It was 8 pm. I stood at her door, rang the bell and waited.
As expected, she looked under the weather.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, her smile reaching her eyes.
“You sounded flu-ey on the phone earlier. As expected, you have flu,” I said, touching her forehead with my palm, checking her temperature. “It’s not that bad,” she said as she shrugged and moved to the side to let me in.
“If I could hear it over the phone, it must be bad. And that is why I came, bearing gifts”, as I lifted the bags I was carrying. She closed the door and followed me into her kitchen. I put the bags on the counter and set some water to boil on the gas stove. She walked towards the bags, and opened to see the contents. “Oooooh, fried chicken!” she squealed, and her excitement was quickly replaced by shock. “And medicine,” I said. “I wasn’t sure which flu medicine works for you, so I bought a few.”
“A few? Kev, this is the whole flu isle!!” I couldn’t help but laugh a little. Her expressive face was doing a number on me. “Don’t roll your eyes at me. I usually throw everything at a flu and wait for it to subside,” grinning at her. She smiled as she came around the counter and hugged me, moldered herself into my arms. “You’re a good friend. I don’t tell you enough.” I nodded in agreement, smiling and wrapping my arms tight around her.
The kettle whistled, ending our moment.
“You’re staying right?” she asked, with pleading eyes. “I could do with some nice company.”
She got the cups and I got the plate. Tea and fried chicken. We were sorted. We talked and ate as the news played in the background. She had had a long week. She was exhausted, the flu didn’t help either. She snuggled into my side, pulling the blanket up to her neck and mine.
“You’re warm,” she said. “Yep, usually humans come with their own heating system.” We both laughed and then fell into a comfortable silence. Moments later, her breathing deepened. She’d fallen asleep.
Right that moment, I had everything I needed. A full belly, shelter, clothes on my back and her. Annie. My Annie. Six years, that’s how long I had known her. That’s how long I’d been in love with her.
Reaching into my pocket, I felt it. I’d had other plans when I called earlier to check if she would be home tonight. Helping her relax and nursing her flu was a higher priority than asking her to spend the rest of her life with me. I could walk around with this velvet box in my pocket one more day.