Titles by Kij Johnson are available for purchase online

Dear everyone else at the library, I am SO SORRY.

My colds have a sort of classical elegance to them. Not the part where my face feels chronically sticky with loathsome effluents, nor the part where I can’t stop scraping at the space under my nose with my sleeve, nor the sounds I can hear inside my head as I sniffle and snort and snork and snuffle my way through the day. No. I mean structurally. They stick to their pattern as rigorously as a 19th-century sonata.

Day One: A slightly febrile energy that gives me the wherewithal to buy lemons, honey, ginger, and bourbon; make the bed one last time; finish the laundry. There’s a nagging something in my throat, but surely it won’t be so bad! So, denial.

Day Two: And there it comes. Sleep if I can; otherwise, lie in a trance on any flat surface long enough to stretch out on. I am still wearing actual pants and clean socks. Maybe it won’t be so bad; maybe this will be the legendary 24-hour cold I have heard whispered about. Halfway through the day comes the crash: pants, clean socks, sleep, all gone. Sweats and an sweater so old it has voting rights, check.

Day Three: Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh. At least I’m not coughing. Lie around some more. What is this horrible headache? Oh, maybe caffeine withdrawal? Actually, have I eaten anything since yesterday? When did my nose start itching? Where are the Kleenex?

Day Four: I feel so much better! Yay! Well, face is still sort of gummy feeling, but maybe I can — <hack> <hack> <hack-hack-hack-hack> <hack> <hack> <hack-hack oh, for fuck’s sake hack>

Day Five: It’s like a metronome, this cough. As though I can only take in so much oxygen before it has to — <hack-hack-hack-hack-hack>

The good news is that, Days Six and Seven? I look vile and I sound vile, but I am not in fact feeling vile. See you tomorrow, everyone.

1 thought on “This cold has hit the Endless Coughing stage.

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