By Kiana Barrington
“Are you okay?” she asked. I coughed again. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved that she cared, but she didn’t have to ask every single time. She knew I was sick. I already felt bad about coughing so much, more then than the whole night. You know when you’re taking that really hard math test that’s crunching you for time and you don’t want to sneeze or cough because the room is so silent you can hear a pen drop and you really don’t want to distract anyone more than you already have? It was like that – but ten times worse.
Even though we were outside walking, together, under the midnight sky as the street lights shone above us and cars and bikes zoomed by and people, walking their dogs and conversing with friends, strolling along, I just knew that my cough, my mucus-filled cough would just ruin it. It’d be the only thing she heard; it was the only thing I heard. But I couldn’t hold it in. She said she didn’t mind and that my sick voice was “so cute,” but I just wasn’t convinced.
All day I’d been miserable with each cough and sneeze hurting my throat, but that night, each cough and sneeze, while hurting my pride, warmed my heart. As she and I sat there, somewhere in Flushing, in the cold 2 a.m. autumn weather, we talked and laughed, getting to know each other more than we already had. And while this might be a figment of my imagination, I coughed less, and less, and less.
“Kiana, you’re sick. Take my jacket.”