You pretty much know the drill…
Plaigiarism is wrong… do it, I will give you “such a pinch” (see Bugs Bunny cartoon)…
All Doctor Who characters and references are inspired by the actual series as created for BBC Cymru Wales and BBC America, in which they are all used fictitiously. All rights reserved to them. Respect.
Last week after surviving my sniffles was a nightmare that even a redhead couldn’t wish away into a box.
But the sinus battle was long from over.
I hadn’t seen Midnight in about five or six days; I probably had lost count by the second week of April. The sore throat was finally gone, but the coughs and my sinuses refused to back down.
The nurse at the free clinic told me, “I’m going to give you nasal spray and allergy medicine for you to take, but keep on taking the Mucinex for the cough. Don’t take any nasal decongestants because they will cause the irregular heartbeat you had last Thursday. Other than that, fluids, fluids, fluids… Drink six to eight water bottles a day to clear out the nasal passageway, and if your coughs don’t improve next week, give us a call.”
I left the office hoping for better news. I still couldn’t be sure about sinusitis being a virus or something else. The Maryland weather since March has been very strange: snow on the First Day of Spring, warmer within the week of Palm Sunday, and then nearly freezing cold again before Easter.
Before that, I had fever-less flu-like symptoms on Christmas Eve. Now I was sick again in time for Easter. Santa Claus, the Bunny, and Jesus would not have been happy about this.
The following Thursday, I had been on the heavy cough medicine for a week, and the tickle had grown much more resilient to everything. I avoided milk at all costs and lived on tea, juice, water and anything close to water as possible. No sign of recovery yet.
After the grueling second clinic trip enough to scare me even more, I’ve realized I hate nebulizers and I’m glad I don’t have my dad’s athsma. The nurses gave me antibiotics to rule out bronchitis and something to help with the coughing. Great, something I’m actually familiar with, I say in my mind.
Then I get to the pharmacy the next day and open the package. Antibiotics for five days, all right, but… an inhaler???
Ventolin, 95 mcgs of albuterol sulfate powder. Dad takes at least twice the potency of each dose for his sudden chest spasms. It’s not enough for my dad to use for his condition, but I’m already scared to use it. Were the doctors absolutely honest when they told me it wasn’t chronic?
All night and most of the morning, the gray-blue cannister haunted me. One of the side effects was nervousness and insomnia, both of which I already have. I didn’t know whether to thank MedStar or register a furious complaint with the receptionist for cutting into me deeper.
I cheated on the box’s instructions for use, taking a sandwich bag and taking the inhaler that way. Dad kept telling me, “No, that’s not how you use it,” and insisted that I take the inhaler to demonstrate proper use. My embarrassment of awkward moments had kicked in, so I ignored the inhaler and relied on the nasal spray and antibiotics.
Saturday morning, the first spasm hit me. Stumbling downstairs, I grabbed the spray, almost ignoring the menacing puffer. No one was home, parents out on an errand. Funny, the plural of the word errand rhymes with my last name- Ahrens on errands. Clever idea for an anxiety blog! Maybe another time…
Figuring I might need the albuterol anyway, I followed the first few instructions by shaking the inhaler, but grabbed the sandwich bag to use it. Just as I was about to squeeze another dose in, the same Scottish voice came back.
“Wrong!” Mr. Midnight shouted behind me. “Wrong!”
I glanced over my shoulder and there he was, dressed a little more casually in jeans, belt and a black shirt, but still wearing the navy blue and red lined suit jacket. His bushmen eyebrows never furrowed in anger, but they jumped so high over his head that they nearly emigrated to Iceland or an iceberg off the coast of the North Pole. Or actually, they probably jumped to the other end of Britain so they could become their own country but tragically failed in the end. Curse Robert the Bruce.
I dropped the things on the kitchen table and glared, hand on hips. “What the hell are you doing here?” I growled. “I thought you were never coming back.”
“I’m only here in dire situations,” he said in a surly manner.
“Ok, and this is a dire situation?” Head in my hands for a pause, I returned, “What’s the matter now? More specifically, what are you calling ‘wrong’?”
“Nothing,” he said. “Unless whatever whiny thing you’re saying on your blog is absolutely pathetic, not to mention you could quite possibly get into a huge lawsuit for copyrighted material. Couldn’t you use some other fictional character to tell your stories, rather than using an old Scottish madman magician like me?”
“Oh, please, I’ve seen magicians and I don’t see you as one of them,” I said, picking up the inhaler again to try taking another dose before being so rudely interrupted. Mr. Midnight didn’t even move. For this, I sorely needed the privacy. “Not to be a buzzkill or anything, but can you leave me alone for a minute?”
“Why the privacy?” Mr. Midnight said, pronouncing the last word as ‘preh-vi-see’ instead of the American ‘PREYE-vah-see’, something of both British and Scottish dialects that always confused me. “There’s nothing to be embarrassed about; there’s no one here but me, and of course your wee tiny hound dog.”
By this, he referred to my parents’ longhair miniature dachshund Cinderella, whom after the passing of her baby brother D’Artagnon has felt the need to re-conquer the household as the doggie version of the Queen of Sheba. As for my parents, they were already on their daily morning run, my mom in need of her morning cream-and-sugar French vanilla coffee fix. Cinder was resting in her little cubby in the downstairs bathroom, so it was just the two of us moron chuckleheads. Well, since I was imagining and fantasizing all this, it was really just me debating with my conscience consciousness.
“You know how embarrassing you looked when you challenged Robin Hood to a duel not once, but twice?” I jeered at him, hoping to cause a stir. “After your cheating excuse for winning the archery tournament and getting yourselves nabbed by the Sheriff and his robots, you looked much more out of breath than I was. No wonder Clara went to discuss things with the Sheriff, you could barely carry the stupid chains with the Prince of Thieves laughing all the time!”
He scored one more point when he said, “Then you must be poor, lonely Maid Marion, being stuck in a town like… Nottingham.”
“Once again, coincidences happen,” I almost barked at him, gently tossing the inhaler onto the kitchen table, unlike my dad who tends to slam and throw things when ticked off. “Whoever wrote the tales of Robin Hood and the Merry Men never knew anything about the thirteen colonies that would become the first of 50 states. So, no, my living in a tiny gas station town in Baltimore County has nothing to do with a lame, over-rated piece of ‘courtly love’ literature. Even if they do share the same name, yeah, I’m surprised I have no idea who the sheriff of Nottingham, Maryland is. But also? No one cares!”
I placed my head in my free hand, resting the sandwich bag on the table. Already, I heard the refrigerator door open and shut, and I looked up at Mr. Midnight pouring me a glass of water over the empty cup I had just dumped an open pouch of Emergen-C into it. The orange-y vitamin C fizzed with the cold water like the dissolving antacids chanting, “Oh what a relief it is!” on the commercials, and Midnight started swirling the drink around in his hand as I’m thinking he’s just going to help himself to the pleasure and joy of torturing a sick woman months away from 27.
Before taking a drink, I stopped him. “What are you doing?”
Holding the vitamin C infused water away from his lips, he said, “Am I allowed to get just one drink?” He kind of replied to me in a manner similar to that of Slappy Squirrel, shouting, “Whadya want? I’m old!”
“Ahem, I was making that, thank you,” I said.
“Well then, thank you, dear,” he said and took a smirking sip, smacking his lips at the extra tangy kick. “Is this tangerine flavored? I hate tangerines; nobody likes tangerines.”
I got up and snatched it from his hands, putting it back on the table next to all the junk mail and stamped envelopes, either containing “Please respond: urgent” scams/ credit card offers or actual bills. Mr. Midnight proceeded to take the opportunity to hand me the plastic gray-blue nightmare.
“This time, do it right,” he said. “Push down, breathe in, hold your breath, and rinse. It’s that simple.”
“Easy for you to say,” I said, sitting down in my mother’s seat with the lounge chair cushion, next to the stand with the microwave. “Medicine doesn’t fix anything, not permanently anyway. Everything the doctors and nurses do, everyone in the medical field… all they ever do is stall. They all try their best to stall and prolong life as much as possible until they’ve done enough, ending up with another corpse in the morgue again. A medical practitioner’s main goal for his career is to stall death… until he dies too.”
Mr. Midnight threw his head back a little, peering down on me in thought, and humphed. “And that’s what you think? That’s really what you think?”
“That’s what all people think, don’t you?” I replied. “It’s true, isn’t it?”
After a slight moment of quiet, Midnight said, “Not to me, anyway. I just make sure the timeline courses of history and space-time are never altered, or only changed a bit.”
“So, in Lehman’s terms, you stall history and time itself,” I said, reiterating my point yet again.
He crouched again, cold stare in my eyes. Hands rested on both arms of my grandmother’s wooden chair. “I do stall, but not for the reasons you think.”
“You know why I have two hearts?”
I almost add some snarky remark as a, “duh, of course I know, you’re an alien from space,” but Mr. Midnight shuts me up with his hand up in front of my face.
“Then you understood… When they made me, even I knew I was no hero, but I couldn’t be an enemy either. The screwdriver is to fix, the blue box is to call for help, and…”
I pushed his arm aside and finished his sentence for him. “You pretty much broke the mold as an idiot on-call mechanic for a hero?”
He looked at me with his furrowed eyebrows, a little offended by my sarcasstic tone. “You know as well as I do that you’re tired and you need to turn on your Circadian body clock back on. Now, hurry up and take the bloody medicine. And you’d better do it properly this time.”
The headache rolling around in its brain-cloud form had fully developed by that point. “Fine,” I said, defeated. Picking up the inhaler and walking back towards the kitchen sink, I turned back to him and said, “Could you do me a favor and not look when I do this? Just your staring at me is a lot more embarrassing.”
Midnight stared at me with a blank glance that could punch me. “Do it, right now.”
I scoffed. This wasn’t going to be big on dignity. “Don’t laugh,” I told him.
And drawing a deep breath in, I pressed down on the pressurized container. The effect was instantaneous. The solids filled my chest but hit the back of my tongue and throat with a retched, foul taste in the process. I grimaced as it started to smolder my tongue almost like a bad wound or scalp itch, but on the mouth.
“WATER!” I bolted for the kitchen sink, grabbed a glass, and rinsed with the remaining tap. It took several swishes to get rid of most of it, but by the time I started rinsing my mouth out, Midnight couldn’t but help himself to a case of the doubling-over guffaws.
“Shut up!” I shouted. “I thought I told you not to laugh!”
After a few brief moments of the chuckles, Mr. Midnight stood and heaved from too much laughing. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself! It’s actually sort of adorable the way your face looks after you…”
“I said shut up!” I repeated between mouthfuls. Once again, he wouldn’t stop laughing and making his face even pinker. “You’ll give yourself a hernia!”
“Nice work, Osgood,” he said before snickering some more.
After rinsing for the last time, he caught up with his breath and told me, “You deserve an adventure, Rachel, at least one last time. I don’t think you laugh nearly as often as I have in a long time. But I promise you; if you go get some rest and write about this later, I might take you up on this adventure through time and space… maybe. Just get better soon and I’ll let you know.”
Before leaving in another blink, he added, “Maybe when you realize this planet and the universe are much kinder than you imagine, I’ll take you along for the ride. Until then… You are braver than you seem.”
Taking the first drink of my Emergen-C orange fizz concoction before writing of this fantastical experience, I thought to myself, I still don’t think I deserve an adventure right now. I really don’t need more of the drama.
Up next: “Fat Lady Sings The Long Song”
-I just hope I finish said story very shortly, unlike this one, for I previously mentioned I’d publish this back in May, and it’s now the end of June. Stuff happens.
I need to get into the habit of writing at a normal pace. Will write another addition to the “Conversations” again… once I figure out this crap-worthy Wal Mart tablet, if I can.
And now my favorite rendition of The Kinks as recorded by The Black Keys: