When I awaken again, everything has been smoothed out, the sheets are over me, the blanket is over me, there is a comforter in a floral cover that is thrown over me. I am warm and enclosed by the soft folds of fabric. I saw on the chair the tall figure of my friend, his arms draped over the side.
My head is in such intense pain, I feel as if there are pinpoint holes that blaze through my skull. Burning like stars of acid light. I shake and think momentarily of stumbling to the bathroom, but realize that that is too hazardous with only towels for clothing.
His lank form stirs, and he looks through the gloom in my direction, it is too dark to make out whether he is smiling or frowning. His eyes seem like dark pits. He swings an arm out, stretches it and almost effortlessly flips a light switch. Just before he throws the switch I stare at the space between his body and the wall, his arm stretched through the gloom, blotches of darkness swirling around it in my vision as my eyes tried to focus on some point, but failed to grasp it.
The light turning on smacked me in the face,and made me realize how much pain my throbbing skull was in. I shut my eyes hard and groaned. My head too heavy to stay up. There was an almost relief as it plumped into the pillow.
I opened one eye in time to see him roll to the floor and land his feet with a graceful quiet. He uncoiled upwards to his full height, towered oer me, covered the distance between chair and bed in a single step, and placed the back of his hand on my forehead.
"You've got a wicked fever."
I rolled one eye upwards to look at him. Is that so? Really. I never would have guessed.
Before I can speak he has loped out of the room, softly pounds his way down the stairs, and I can feel, rather than hear, him crossing the hall. This entire time the light is beating on my eyes, and I want desperately to be able to turn off the light, but I get no farther than stretching my arm out half way.
I am locked in that position, front down to the bed, hips bent slightly up, arm out at a right angle, head resting like the base of an arch on the pillow, when he returns. He has a cup of water in his hands, and two small round tablets. I recognize them as motrin.
"You should take this."
I am too floridly paralyzed with pain to really move, he rolls me over on to my back, and slips an arm behind me, and then almost carelessly raises me to a sitting position, provideds the tablets to my mouth and helps me drink. The taste in my mouth is dust and fire, and I slupr the water a bit.
"I should get back to my dorm."
I realize even as I wheeze that out that no such thing is going to happen.
"Ummm, I'm not sure I can carry you that far."
My eyes are still getting used to the light, when he flicks off the loud bulb and turns on the desk light. I can see a grey light outside, it is clearly still raining, but morning is coming.
"Thank God it is Saturday, at least I will only be monumentally behind come Monday, as opposed to missing classes and sections."
I realize even as I am saying it that my mouth has stopped moving somewhere around "Monday." I am back a sleep and swaying globular figures are playing about my eyes, that pre-dream where the ripples of sight are coming and going.
When I wake up, there are three things I realize. The first is that I am alone. There is none of that emenation that comes from another presence in the room. The second is that it must be late morning or late afternoon, because the light is different, a kind of bright polarized gray. The third is that I am both immensely hungry, and feel like throwing up. I gingerly scan the room, even moving my eyes slightly hurts. My skull is filled with that dullness that comes from painkillers masking what would otherwise be a brutal throb.
I see my clothes neatly folded and pressed on the chair. I slither out of the bed, and quietly put all of them on. I need to repeatedly rest my hand against the chair. There is a shivering wobble that runs up my body, as I stand on one leg to put a sock on. Instead the next thing I know, I have wobbled back and I am on the bed, having thumped on my rear end.
My, I thought, that was certainly graceful.
I pull myself upwards again, and stagger down back to the bathroom. There I take care of various essentials, and start to seek my way back to the bedroom to reacquire my book band and thence head back to my dorm.
I get to the small room again, its angles glowing with half shadows. Instead of having a clean resolve to go home, without willing to I methodically take off my clothes, leaving my underwear on, and curl back up under the covers and sob myself back to sleep. The pain in my skull feels like cold iron rods, the kind you see in those old fences, being rammed through it.
I am asleep again.