The Tight Fist of Awesome has spoken. This week's word is fever.
The doctor said the fever was one hundred and four, but it was just numbers to the boy, who was convinced his bed was a sea and the blankets waves upon that sea. And heads would float by on the quilted water, little tiny heads, his Mom’s head, and his sister’s too, the head of the President, Danny from the Partridge Family, his English teacher Miss Summers, Aquaman, Mickey Dolenz, Mr. Potato Head, Santa. A part of his mind insisted they were only delusions from the fever, but he didn’t much care. He had wonderful conversations with the tiny heads, spirited and witty, utterly forgotten the instant they ended.
That evening the sea drained away and the heads disappeared and he was all alone, shivering and scared and very, very cold. He realized in a moment of simple lucid clarity that he might die. The looks on his parents’ faces, the hushed tones of the doctor, they way his Grandma just kept crying. Something was wrong.
He didn’t want to die. He tried to tell them all but was trapped in his cocoon of sickness, too weak to speak, or even gesture. He focused on a chair across the room. He closed his eyes. He opened them and saw a girl sitting in the chair. Her skin was as pale as parchment, her hair like dried grass.
She had coins upon her eyes.
She smiled at the boy. Her hands moved to her face and she gently plucked the coins from her eyes and placed them on the bedtable. They were pennies. Unhidden, her eyes glowed, but softly, flickering like candle flames. She placed her hand on the boy’s hand. Her skin was cold. She smiled again, shook her head. No. She closed her eyes, and as the candle-flames disappeared so did she.
The fever broke the next morning. The boy spent the day in bed, resting, convinced the girl has saved him. He promised himself to keep the coins forever, move them from pocket to pocket with each change of jeans, never let them leave his possession. But life moves on, and they got mixed in with other coins in his pocket, with army men and string and small interesting rocks. Ultimately they were spent for candy, into the cash register and out again as change, entering the flow of the world of commerce, jingling happily in the pockets of the living.