On Saturday, he woke up sick. Not sick in a way worth blogging about: no visits to the E.R., no uncontrollable vomiting, no diarrhea, he didn’t even have a fever. He was stuffed up, congested. He moved from bed to the corner of the couch, the spot where I always sit, next to the ceiling to floor windows that overlook my back yard, into the wooded parkland with it’s dead-fall and snow patches and wintering ivy smothering old rotting trees. A sepia toned landscape of brown and white.
For five days, I watched him. A halo of germs, like a dense fog on a chilly morning, settled over the couch, the TV remote, the PS4 controller. There were times the couch was vacant, during naps and showers and bathroom breaks, times I could reclaim my spot, but I kept my distance. Dishes stacked up, cereal bowls, water glasses, those five-inch plates with toast crumbs and muffin wrappers. Periodically, I’d collect them, deposit them in the dishwasher and carefully wash my hands with soap and scalding water, a slippery, frothy mess, for as long as I could tolerate.
The garbage can from my bathroom, sacrificed for the cause, stood beside the couch, overfilling with tissues until they dropped and scattered around the floor. On the bathroom vanity, with no where else to go, my daily detritus of Q-tips, dental floss and plastic toothpicks that remove the food scraps that outlast flossing and brushing accumulated in a small white tangle attaching itself mysteriously to my razor and nail clippers.
As days passed, the couch was open more and more. My hygiene waste silently disappeared, my wife clearly disgusted with my tolerance for this unsanitary debris. The garbage can and its surrounding blizzard of Kleenex were, one evening, gone. Slowly, carefully, I resettled into my corner of the couch to write.