Mandated Recovery

Apr 8th, 2019
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  1. When you share a space with someone, a curious thing begins to happen. You start to see;- or rather, you start to feel the normal rhythms and routines of that person. It surprised you at first, but you’ve come to accept it as just one more feature of the life you and Alita have together. This subconscious sense clicks in to action one wintry afternoon, when suddenly Alita scrunches her face up; a quick sneeze echoing through the room before she blinks twice and shakes her head in confusion. Though you’ve seen her stretch and yawn before, you can’t ever remember having seen her sneeze. Still, you shake off the feeling of discontent, and the two of you share in the evening routine which has become so cosy for you both.
  3. Thanks to the recent repairs on your radiator, mornings in your apartment are no longer freezing, despite the shimmering snowflakes falling past your window. It’s a day off for you, and you take a moment to simply lie in the warmth of your bed, feeling Alita curled up next to you. Through the lazy appreciation of the morning your subconscious pricks you, and you realise after a time that she’s snoring slightly. Your brow furrows and you go to examine her closer. As if sensing your investigation, her eyes slowly open. No matter where you are, their deep brown colour is enchanting. When she sees you the beginnings of a smile play at the corners of her mouth. Suddenly though her face scrunches up again and she sneezes twice in quick succession. A couple of sniffles and a cough later and the pieces start to come together in your mind. Before you fully realise the thought though she speaks, confusion clear on her face.
  5. “I- feel funny. What’s wrong with me?” She sniffles again and you can’t help but smile as your conclusion solidifies. You gently touch her forehead and feel the unusual heat coming off it.
  7. “I think you have a cold, Ali.”
  9. She frowns and sits up in the bed, swaying slightly from the effort as she steadies herself with her arms. Her voice is muddled.
  11. “I’m dizzy- Why am I so weak?” You see concern flash across her face. “Am I dying?”
  13. The worry in her eyes is real, and you’re torn between laughing at the adorableness of it and assuaging her fears. You decide on both, chuckling a little as you lean in to give her a kiss on the forehead. You gently guide her back down in to the bed before speaking.
  15. “No Ali, you’re just sick. It happens to everyone.” Her relief is palpable, though her frown quickly reappears.
  17. “How do I stop being sick?” Her earnestness catches you off-guard, and you blink before letting out a short laugh.
  19. “You just need to rest. It will get better on its own.” She begins to protest but you put a finger on her lips and continue. “You stay in bed now. I’ll get some things so you’re comfortable.”
  21. Before she can argue you clamber out of bed, throwing on an outfit and heading to the kitchen. You quickly assemble breakfast: orange wedges, a tall glass of water, and some ginger tea. Not many memories are left of your parents, but one which stands out is of being taken care of as a child, through the many colds which Iron City’s winter produces. You head back to the bedroom and find Alita wrapped up like a burrito, head poking out of the thick blankets. Her discontent is clear, though her face brightens slightly as she sees what you’ve brought. You carefully place the breakfast tray next to her and brush one of the strands of hair back from her face. Through the grumpy frown she smiles a little, and you sit on the edge of a bed for a moment. She pokes an arm out from the blankets and grabs an orange wedge. Still chewing on it, she mumbles a complaint at you.
  23. “This sucks. I was going to scrim today.” Her pout is unbearably cute, but your response is resolute.
  25. “You’re staying right here. No scrims. Make sure you drink plenty of water.” You pause for a moment, and your voice softens. “Hey, I was going to go drop a shirt off for my niece. I’ll bring you back something special when I do!”
  27. The grin you love is back now, though she’s doing her best to maintain her frown despite it. You feel your heart melt as you give her a final kiss on the forehead.
  29. “Send me a message if you get bored.” She nods in response, and you head out to grab your things. After finding your jacket and the 99-monnogrammed jersey you head off to face the cold of Iron City’s winter.
  31. Your niece is delighted upon receiving the jersey, excitedly outlining exactly how much cooler you are than her parents. She wears it proudly as the two of you share a quick snowball fight. You make sure to let her win, though you resoundingly deny any such thing when she accuses you of it. Eventually though she has to return to her family, and after a firm hug you trek towards the market district to pick up Alita’s present. The snow has stopped falling now, and the chill air bites at your nose while the sun’s rays poke through the fading clouds. As you walk you check your messages. You find more than twenty notifications there, and you can’t help but laugh as you scroll through some of them.
  33. … I’m bored!...
  34. … What are you up to?...
  35. … Come back and keep me company…
  36. … How do people stay inside so long?...
  37. … I’m calling Ido and telling him to fix me!...
  38. … He just laughed at me and told me to go to bed…
  39. … This is the worst…
  40. … Why are you ignoring me?...
  42. You send her a quick message in response, telling her that you’ll be back soon. Before long, you arrive at a tiny market stall where the rich smell of chicken broth washes over you. This was the missing part of your family’s traditional care for the sick, and after passing the vendor a handful of credits you begin the trip home, soup carefully wrapped in your jacket.
  44. The inside of the apartment is warm and cosy. You shrug off your jacket and as you go to transfer the piping hot soup to a bowl you’re greeted by a hoarse “Hey” from the bedroom. With the soup ready you head back to where you left Alita. She’s managed to make an impressive pile of tissues around her, though as you see her gloomy face your heart falls. She offers a weak smile when she sees you enter and then sighs.
  46. “I hate being sick.” You place the soup on the bedside table and sit back down on the edge of the bed.
  48. “Yeah it’s no fun at all.” Pointing to the soup, you continue. “I hope this helps. This is a- tradition. It’s meant to help you get better faster. It’s chicken soup.”
  50. Alita looks to the bowl and her face lights up. Sitting up a little, she carefully picks it up, and after smelling it through her sniffles takes a small gulp. Her eyes widen, then she sighs in content and takes another swallow.
  52. “This is amazing. It’s so warm! Thank you!” Her voice is a little clearer now, and you shift closer, gently running your hands through her hair as she enjoys the soup. It’s not often you find her needing your help; though you’d never admit it, you’re glad that there’s still things which you can do specially for her. Eventually she finishes the bowl and after scraping the very bottom for the last scraps, leans in to your shoulder. You pass your arm behind her back and give her a soft squeeze. When she speaks again her voice is calm, with a drowsy edge hanging on every word.
  54. “Thanks for taking care of me. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
  56. You feel the warmth and affection coursing through your veins as you reply.
  58. “Always, Alita. We’re a team, together.”
  60. She snuggles deeper in to you and you hold her as her breathing slows, watching her face relax as she drifts off to sleep. In the back of your mind you know there’s lots of things you should be doing, but right now, there’s nowhere you need to be but here.
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