Just another day of babysitting.
After suppressing my own urge to empty the contents of my stomach all over the place and a quick wardrobe change, I helped Pete back upstairs to his bed. He fell to the mattress with a thud. Without a word, I gathered up his blanket and wrapped it around him.
"I'm sorry." He murmured almost inaudibly. I shrugged.
"It's OK. You didn't throw up that much." He shook his head.
"No, not about that. I'm sorry about what I did. I'm sorry about Jeanae. I'm sorry about everything." That simple apology seemed to rob my lungs of oxygen. It was all I ever wanted. But being he was not in the right state of mind, it was a tainted request for forgiveness.
"I know you are." I gently pushed a lock of black hair away from his slick forehead. He tenderly grabbed my wrist.
"Stay with me." He pleaded. It was that moment when I noticed his eyes possessed a honeyed hue. "Please just make it stop." Walk away. Just walk away. I sighed and crawled under the covers with him. Almost immediately, his head found the crook of my neck and settled there. Heat seemed to radiate off this man. I absent-mindedly rubbed his back with a free hand, hoping to console him in some way.
"Make what stop?" I asked in a hushed, soothing voice.
"The ringing. The spinning. The pain. It hurts so bad." It seemed I was losing the battle to keep my head above the water. I couldn't do it alone. It was too much. Yes, I was angry with him. Yes, I felt betrayed by him. He single-handedly ruined the best thing either of us had going on and somehow found a way to make it my fault. Despite all that, it killed me to see him like this and I couldn't do a damn thing to stop it. I couldn't help him with this. It was bigger than both of us. So, I simply lay with him until his breathing slowed and became rhythmic. His eyelids gradually closed, giving way to a state of unconsciousness.
"He vomed on you? Sick." Max sneered, stating the obvious.
"Yeah, I'm aware. But he was like...so scary. He kept saying something about a ringing."
"A ringing? Maybe he has an inner ear infection." I smiled and shook my head.
"Nice try, but I doubt it. I mean, he was shaking and sweating like nobody's business." My friend hummed into the phone and I could hear him typing in the background.
"What did you say he was on?" My eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
"He was taking Ativan, but he went off the deep end, so once he left the hospital, the doctors took him off of it. Why?" I was met with the sound of more rapid typing. "What are you doing?" He remained silent for a few moments.
"I'm Google-ing Ativan. Listen to this. 'Ativan withdrawal symptoms include, but are not limited to: insomnia, abdominal and muscle cramps, sweating, tremors, nausea, vomiting, and...ringing in the ears.' Honey, he's fiending for that shit." It all made sense; the ringing, the pain, the puke in my lap.
"Does it say how long it will last?"
"About a week or so. It should slowly get better. Until then, don't wear your favorite pair of jeans." I rolled my eyes. You shouldn't have told him about Pete's stomach pyrotechnics.
"Lola! Dinner!" Peter Sr. called from down stairs.
"Oooh, what are you having?" I shrugged at Max's question. It smelled like some sort of fish.
"I don't know. Call you later."
"Kay. Bye Lo-Lo."
"See ya Maxie." I pressed end and tossed my cell phone onto my mattress before heading downstairs. It was in fact salmon with green beans and rice.
"Smells great, Dale." I commented as I sat down in front of an already filled plate. Oddly, the table was only set for three.
"Pete's not coming?" I asked while reaching for a napkin that I would inevitably need. His mother shook her head and frowned.
"He said he wasn't hungry." That too was strange. I had attempted to feed him breakfast and lunch, but was met with resistance and a claim of not being hungry.
"I'm giving him one more day of this, and then it ends. The boy has to eat. He can't just sit up in his room all day, everyday." The elder Peter insisted as he took his frustration out on his dinner via a knife and fork.
"Peter, he needs some time. This isn't easy for him." His wife interjected firmly.
"He's 25 years old for Christ's sake. You can't keep babying him and making excuses. That's how this all began." She dropped her fork, letting it clang against her plate.
"So this is my fault?" He frowned and shook his head.
"I didn't say that."
"You didn't have to." Without warning, she stood and left the table abruptly. The slamming of a door proceeded her exit. Mr. Wentz sighed and cleared his plate, making me the last one standing. Awkward.
I was never one to let anything come between me and my dinner, so I sat and finished my food shamelessly. With the empty plate in hand, I headed for the kitchen to put my dish in the washer.
The grotesque bat shaped globs of refined sucrose disappeared under the sea of milk, but quickly surfaced. I frowned at the box adorning a cartoon vampire with a chocolate fixation. Perhaps serving him 20 grams of pure sugar isn't the smartest idea you've ever had.
Sure, it wasn't my proudest moment, but Pete could never turn down a bowl of Count Chocula. Never.
With all the coordination I could muster, I transported the overloaded bowl of sweet, sugary death to the attic.
"Breakfast time." I called out. The mass of blankets groaned and shifted, but made no attempt to get out of bed. "C'mon, it's Count Chocula. Your favorite."
"Go away." This frown was becoming a permanent fixture on my face.
"We can do this the easy way or the hard way. Whichever you decide, I'm not leaving until you've eaten every last disgusting excuse for a marshmallow."
"Then I suggest you make yourself comfortable." Came his groggy response. OK, you want to play this game, I'll play.
I swept my hand across his cluttered nightstand, clearing it of all trinkets and memorabilia, and placed the chilled bowl on its surface. With that out of the way, I stormed his bed and ripped his comforter off his curled up body. To say he was surprised would be an understatement.
"What the hell are you doing?" He growled, staring up at my towering figure. I sat, straddling his chest and pinning his arms to the bed with my knees. With him sustained, I reached for the bowl.
"You're going to eat this fucking cereal and you're going to like it. Understood?" His dark eyes flickered with rage.
"Get off me, NOW!" He yelled. I ignored his outburst and scooped some cereal onto the spoon.
"Open up for the air plane." I shoved the utensil in his mouth. Almost immediately, he sucked in air and spat the soggy fragments in my face. My mouth dropped in shock. I could have handled his insolence, but that shit-eating grin of his was another story entirely. Fuck this.
I tipped the bowl, spilling the contents of it all over that grin. He flailed and sputtered, sending milk and bits of marshmallows in every direction.
"You fucking bitch!" He shrieked before bucking me off him and on to the floor. By then, I was in hysterics. Pieces of mushy cereal stuck to his dark, matted hair and skin. "Stop laughing!" His demands made it that much more hilarious.
"Look...look at you!" I howled between fits of belly laughs. He grunted before rolling out of bed and storming downstairs. I could faintly hear a door slam and a shower turn on.
At least I got him to bathe. Gold star for me.