I hadn’t had a fever like this since I was a child.
I tossed and turned in bed, my throat searing with pain every time I tried to swallow. The back of my neck was soaked with sweat, and I felt as if my whole body was on fire. Every once and a while, I dramatically threw off my blankets and opened my eyes, staring up at the pitch black void above me. Within seconds, the hair on my arms would raise in protest and a shiver would run down my spine, and I would desperately grab for my blankets to encase myself in their warm safety once again, only to begin burning within moments.
I shimmied out of my pajama pants, weakly kicking them off the bed. I sat up, the pain in my head squeezing my consciousness as I reached over to my night stand, blindly grabbing for a bottle of Gatorade that I had sitting nearby. It was nearly empty. Okay, here we go. I unscrewed it and gulped down the sweet electrolytes, tossing the empty bottle down on to the floor. I can pick that up later. I fell back into bed, rolling around for a while before curling up, grasping my stuffed cat, willing myself to try to get some sleep.
Sleep was not easy to find, and I was finding myself between the realm of two worlds, one in which I was sweating through my clothing and suffocating from the heat in my own body, and the other in which I was living out my fantasies.
I was tracking down my old best friend under a false persona, using a dummy account months old old, or was it years old, just to befriend him and make him see that it wasn’t me who was toxic, it was never me, I never hurt him the way he thought I had hurt him, but it was him who manipulated me, pushed me away, ignored my messages, and then saying that I was the one to hit the chink in his suit of armor. It had hurt him worse than he had ever been hurt because I left him alone after he told me that he needed to be alone for a while. I gave him a piece of my mind, saying how shitty it is that he would do that to someone, and leave him to hang to dry just like he did to me, and go on with my life, free of guilt.
I quit my job after having a woman look down at me over the tops of her glasses while raising her too-perfect brows and pursing her lips with bleeding lipstick as she crossed her arms and expected me to magically solve all her problems. I said, “No, I’m not going to help a demanding shrew, fuck this.” and took off my apron, tossing it aside and grabbing my phone to walk home.
I wrote a review of where I used to work, writing paragraphs and paragraphs of hurtful words directed to HR, to corporate, to my own coworkers, to the customers, and to the ceiling tiles in the break room with the dick shaped stain on them. I smiled against my pillows, my fingers twitching as I dreamed of typing out the scathing online review on Glassdoor.
I got her to leave my ex boyfriend, telling her that he isn’t who he says he is, that he dreams of forcing her to bed him since she cannot sleep with him, and that he find it to be manipulative that she won’t even though she physically can’t, just like he did with me, only I could bed him, and I didn’t want to, because I’d rather curl up and sleep than spend an hour writhing under his touch. He found it to be abusive, to be mistreatment, to be manipulative and using sex as a weapon just because I whispered “No, please, I worked for so long today, I need to rest.” But why does she, his new love, get to be happy and why does she get to be treated with more respect than I did when I could do more and go farther?
I dreamed of a woman whose mouth would one day envelope mine, I didn’t know her name or her face or the color of her skin but I dreamed of her loving me as deeply as I needed her to, and imagined that for once, just for a moment, I could be happy with another person. I didn’t feel any doubts, no regrets, had no questions of myself or of her or our relationship, and for once, I was sure.
Four hours pass, and I’m still not sure. I wake up, the sweat dripping down my back, my head pounding with a pain I had never felt and my mouth so dry it may as well begin cracking. I forced myself downstairs, my limbs made of cement and my skin burning to the touch to find iced water, gulping it down so quickly that the excess spilled down my chest, further soaking my shirt and causing a puddle on the cool tiles beneath my feet.
I haven’t had a fever this bad since I was a child, and I haven’t had dreams these satisfying since before I can remember.