short stories

the sickness

short story. found this one while cleaning off my computer. it’s scary that although it was written in 2018, it feels a little too timely.

It had been the one thing they’d forgotten. 

Over tea, Sage and Desira had been talking about the three’s uncanny arrival to the place- Juniper, Luca, and Ava had practically been dumped into the field behind Sage’s parents’ estate, and, that being said, had spent the majority of their days locked away in the guest suite where they could nurse their swollen head wounds in peace. 

“The resemblance is quite creepy, Sage, you have to admit.” Desira said, practically slurping her black tea, as if comfortable in her friend’s presence. 

Now, Sage, who’d had enough of hearing about how much Juniper resembled her but maybe just a little more slender and with larger eyes and higher cheekbones and a more supple breast and much straighter teeth- well, simply said, Sage was quite done with her family and friends’ spiteful comments, and, at Desira’s words, tilted her pert nose in the air and said: “I want to hear nothing more of her.” 

Before Desira was about to make another comment about how it was just that Juniper’s hair is so much more thick than Sage’s, up walked Cameron, the neighbor boy who, it should be made known, was blissfully unaware that Sage was quite taken with him. Therefore, upon his entrance, Sage removed any trace of previous disgust from her face and instead put on a happy one, hoping she would instead look like one of the sea nymphs Cameron had spoken of seeing from time to time on his adventures boating. 

Cameron entered the porch and with a quick not-so-prominent bow to the girls, and, as he was notorious for, quickly said as a greeting “Desira. Sage.”

And although he’d said nothing but her name, Sage took on such a fluttering in her stomach she thought she would faint, and with a quick swish of her embroidered, gold fan came a refreshing brush of clean air, wiping away the sweat that thoughts of Juniper had brought.

“Cameron.” Sage said softly, swallowing abruptly as if his appearance had drained every bit of spit from her mouth. 

Desira, hoping to aid her friend, saw this and resumed the conversation: “what brings you here, Cameron?” 

The boy sighed, and, although uninvited, flopped himself down into one of the nearby porch chairs, taking off his wide brimmed hat and throwing it to the ground beside him. “I came to speak to your visitors. Pa told me one of them looks preciscely like Sage. Said her name was Juniper? Told me she had quite the stories to tell.”

With mention of Juniper, Sage’s face paled and her eyes narrowed. It felt like a cruel joke.

“Yes, yes, they’re upstairs.” Desira said, gleefully. 

This coaxed Cameron from his seat and, much to Sage’s dismay, he walked quickly to the door.

Sage, fearful of losing her guests yet again to her impromptu visitors, stood quickly: “Oh, they’re not up to visitors. Still recovering, poor things hit their heads so bad on the way here!” 

At this, Cameron seemed upset, “well, I’m sure if Juniper knew it was me she would talk. Especially if I told her Father sent me. Just a few questions is all.” 

“No, no, we shouldn’t overwhelm them.” Sage tried her best to seem concerned despite being anything but.

“Well, I guess so. Though I’ve no idea why we should. They’ve had plenty of time to get somewhat adjusted and get over their little fall. Besides, they have been immunized for The Sickness, so no matter whether we see them or not. Well, they have, haven’t they?” 

Here is where Sage, regretfully did something terribly terrible in every manner possible. You see, Juniper, Luca, and Ava had not been immunized for The Sickness. In fact, as this was happening, they were wallowing in fever dreams two stories above Cameron, Desira, and Sage. The Sickness had aptly sunk into the bones of our heroes, and all because it had been the one thing that had been forgot. 

Now, what did Sage do? Well, when she heard the news from Cameron’s lips, she was at first shocked. They had in fact not been immunized- which was so very dangerous in those parts, as any traveller knew to never go there without a dose of that illness to protect them from the vicious Sickness that was somewhere near scarlet fever and typhus. Juniper and her friends not being immunized was in fact deadly. 

But behind the concern and the realization that her guests would surely die unless immediately treated, came Sage’s evil realization. What would mean the death of her guests would be the triumph of her own self. Through the torment of those three above her would come an end to her suffering. 

And it was here that she decided to tell Cameron a false truth. She opened her lying lips and said: “oh, yes, of course.” And Cameron sunk back in his seat and they resumed conversation.

Meanwhile, our heroes were wallowing in illness above them. Juniper faded in and out of consciousness, the ringing in her ears a whirling symphony. Luca’s chest was covered in the illness’s sores- circular marks that looked like little wounds left by a sucking leech. Ava wallowed in fever, dreaming wildly. 

Although this account is not fully accurate, as no one except for out heroes can tell you what happened in that room, I imagine it must have gone like this: Luca, forehead glistening with sweat, would have brushed back Juniper’s damp, dark hair and pressed a soft kiss to her forehead-for he knew what was coming next. This would wake Juniper, who would frown at the marks all over Luca’s sweat riddled chest. Somewhere in the mix, Ava would wake up and grab Juniper’s hand-for she knew what was coming next. 

This would go on for hours or however long it took for The Sickness to take over one’s body. The fever got worse and worse until their feeble bodies could take no more. 

But all the while, Sage didn’t care- her problems had been fixed. 

By the time Cameron cajoled Sage into letting him up to see the guests, their bodies were cold. 

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