He says it must be. She puts a hand on his forehead and tells him he’s hot. Been feeling it coming, he says. She turns her hand over, pressing the backs of her fingers onto clay-warm skin. He makes a sound like a blacksmith’s bucket. Paracetamol, flannel, she says. She takes her hand away, sliding her feet into her work shoes. I’ll ring in for you. I’ll tell them you’ve got the flu and won’t be coming in. There’s honey and lemon in the fridge. I’ll make you a lemon thing. She walks around the bed and toward the bedroom door, stopping only to pick up an empty glass from his side. I knew it was coming, he says. I could feel it. This weekend lowered your immune system, she says. Let it in. It does that. I read it somewhere.
He hears the gate clunk, the new car grumble up the street, fade. Dust moves in the air around him as he pisses, the sun warm hot through the open bathroom window but he doesn’t throw up. He puts his hands under the cold tap, says fuck. He shuffles back into the bedroom and sits down slow onto the bed, pulls off his jeans. And then the hands to the face, watching through a fan of amber-tinged fingers to where the yellow glass sits steaming on the bedside table. And beyond that, the alarm clock: a Dali at seven fifty-five.
Fifty-nine downstairs, and the note stuck on the fridge door: If you made it this far, you will find honey and lemon here. Just squeeze lemon into glass. Add big spoon of honey. Top-up with boiling water. Kettle in kitchen. Near washing machine. Which is that big white box with a round window on it. PS. Sugar optional. Enjoy the honey, honey... Inside the fridge is half a lemon and a near-done jar of honey sat side-by-side on the middle shelf. Billy reaches in, takes a Stella from the top, and closes the door.
40. To do