Wednesday, 8 April 2009 - 3:10 pm

Like flies

Whatever this is, it’s affecting more of us every day. I think it hit us some time ago, but we’ve all been ignoring it in favour of pushing on. The little shaky moments, blemishes on the skin, a random nosebleed; all easily discarded and worked through until it becomes too much.

There are six of us laid up now. Six. A part of me feels guilty, as if by being the first I somehow brought this on all of us. I don’t know if that’s true. I hope it’s not true. But what if it is? What if I’m the one who picked this up and brought it home to this strange little family of mine?

What if I’ve done something irreparable to us all?


Ben is lying on one side of me, Dillon on the other. The former came to sleep next to me last night, looking stressed and close-lipped. I asked him if he was all right and he shook his head, but he wouldn’t talk about it. He spat out blood this morning – his gums mouth was bleeding. I told him that he mustn’t get up. He was so pale and didn’t seem to want to move anyway.

A little while later, Dillon snuck up to my side and touched my arm. Tears had been roughly rubbed off his cheeks and he said he didn’t feel good. He had blotches on his legs and stomach, and he said his nose had been bleeding too. So I moved over and he climbed onto the bed with us. When I felt him trembling, I put an arm around him and he snuggled into my side like a little kid. He’s trying so hard not to be scared, as we all are. I don’t have any answers for him, any hope to offer, but at least the cuddle made us both feel a bit better.

Sometime since I fainted, Sally and Thorpe also fell sick. Sax was already immovable on the couch he had claimed for a bed. All of us are blotchy and weak, all of us leak blood from time to time, though Sax is the only one coughing.

I keep trying not to think about Ben’s bleeding mouth but my gums feel strange to me now. One of my nightmares is trying to step out of my head and into my mouth; my dream-self always loses teeth when I’m stressed about something.


I don’t think this is an allergy. Masterson agrees with me, though he’s keeping his thoughts to himself. He looked at all of us, with fewer and fewer comments as he went around. I think he lingered the longest over Sally, even though she was the last one to go down. He hasn’t said anything encouraging, not even to the kids, but at least he stopped sniping.

He disappeared for a while earlier and returned with an armful of thick books. He doesn’t know what this is, but he’s looking for us. He’s trying.

Ben and I managed to snag Alice and ask her about her group’s sickness, but she says that that was nothing like this; it was more like ‘flu. She seems coiled, like she’s freaking out within the confines of her own skull. Fear skittered over her face when I asked her if this was what she had seen, as if we were going to accuse her of bringing it here. Which is reasonable, I suppose, but luckily unnecessary.

Poor Matt has been run off his feet. He’s taken it on himself to look after everyone, distributing food and water and to hell with the rationing. He’s frazzled and I think he’d like the chance to talk, but I’m braced by a boy on either side right now. He came and sat with us a little while ago; we talked about nothing over Dillon dozing on my shoulder. I tried to tell him that we’d be okay, but it’s hard to be convincing when I feel like something is drawing the strength out of me, rubbing me thinner and thinner.

The atmosphere in here is heavy and silent. Everyone is speaking in undertones, afraid to ruffle the air in case it turns on us, too. I wish Sax was able to sing; his warm voice would be good for all of us, but it has been torn to shreds by his cough. I feel so useless just lying here.

Sometimes, it feels like I can hear our hope dying, and I remember what my dad told me when I had the ‘flu once: “There are two kinds of people, Faithy. Those who accept that they’re sick, and those who fight it until they’re well again. It’s not just about medicine; letting it win on the inside lets it take the rest of you, too.”

Our insides are losing. I don’t know what to do. Focussing on the others usually helps distract me from my own feelings, but the bleakness is inescapable.

Maybe I can get us singing. I wonder if we’re still strong enough for that.