Forty, I’d reckon, or maybe forty-one. Celsius, that is. We’re using the metric system.
This fever came on slowly, and then all at once. Sore limbs, aching neck… I blamed it on the Swami. But even the hardest yoga workout isn’t the harbinger of evening chills to come. I started shivering when I got to the room, and then I put on my fuzziest coat. Over that I threw a shawl, and on my legs, two pairs of pants. Wool socks and a homemade hat completed the uniform, but even that wasn’t enough. I was shivering violently, my teeth chattering. Dive under the blankets, curl into a ball, breathe hot air down the front of your shirt again, and again, and again.
Everyone I didn’t have floated into my mind.
My mom, her gentle hands caressing the side of my face, maternal wisdom making sure the blankets are fluffed, and a warm drink is beside the bed. My sister, sitting by my bedside and telling jokes to make me laugh. My best friend, putting warm washcloths on my forehead, holding my hand in her own. My baby…
Virility. That’s what I need now.
A warm chest to snuggle my back against, his limbs pressing heavy heat into my body. The heater cranked up in every room, and a hot bath up to my neck. Soft carpets, warm sweat pants, an electric blanket, and tea. Two cups of tea, three. Hot, hot, hot. My India-bound mind shoots to the hot springs, considers dipping my whole body in a steaming pool, but… Then I would have to stand up in the cold mountain air, and the sudden transition of temperature would be too much for this fever-stricken body to take. My skin would leap up in painful, straining goosebumps, and my nipples would explode into a million crystalline shards. Oh my god, I’m talking about my nipples exploding, I must be feverish. Okay…
Eat something? No. Drink something? Yes.
One steaming cup of ginger lemon honey tea, and another of simple mint. I hold the foggy glass in my hand, willing the burn to move from my palms into my limbs. I am the only crazy person dressed in layers like this, only my eyes peeking out. I finish the tea quickly, pay with a shaking hand, and return to the room, wiped out.
Roll into a loose ball, then a tighter one, and soon I’m contracted into a rigid fetal position.
Heat, heat, heat, I need more heat. I tuck my legs under the jacket, pull my arms in the sleeves. I can’t see when I open my eyes, the hat is sliding over my face. I can’t move, because every movement brings a violent cascade of shudders. And then… the tea seems to work its magic, or maybe it’s the Paracetamol I took. The heat of my breath is too hot on my face, and I pull the shawl away for cool air. Next the blanket comes off, and then the jacket is unzipped. And here I am, fuzzy and flushed, and suddenly… knock on wood… I’m feeling fine!