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Misery Line part 2


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Misery Line

Part 2

How Alan got through the rest of that day he never knew; somehow he got himself to work and struggled to the end of the day, drinking endless cups of water to ease the dryness in his throat and giving his nose an occasional discreet blow. As soon as it was five thirty, he got himself home and locked his door behind him with exhausted relief.

The first thing he did was to blow his nose properly. All day he had done nothing more than clear his nostrils enough that he didn’t annoy his workmates, but now he sat down, grabbed a handful of Kleenex and holding it before his clogged nose took a deep breath.

Then he hesitated. His usual method of nose-blowing was just to snort mightily through both nostrils, but as he prepared to do that he remembered how gently Ruth had blocked each of his nostrils in turn that morning, encouraging him to blow one at a time. It had worked, too, he really had felt much better for it. And so he did that for himself, blowing each side carefully and thoroughly into the tissues, and once more found that it left his nose much more comfortable.

He rose wearily from his chair and went to make a hot drink, thinking about Ruth as he did so. How tenderly she had touched him; it had been a long time since a woman had touched him like that. She hadn’t turned away from his distress but had seen he needed help and had given it with no hesitation. He could still feel the touch of her soft little hand as she pressed the handkerchief to his stuffy nose; hear her kind voice as she told him to blow. That was something no woman had ever done for him since he was a tiny child and his mother had done it occasionally. And he had always caught the most dreadful colds that left him sneezing violently for days, so blocked up in his head that he became rather hard to understand when he talked.

Alan was surprised and annoyed with himself to suddenly realise that he was almost on the verge of tears because some woman he didn’t know had shown him kindness.

The next morning he was too ill to think about work and he stayed in bed. For most of the day he lay there, sneezing, snuffling and trying to blow his nose but for the most part not having much success. He was too stuffy to clear his head effectively, and it made him feel utterly horrible. Every time he sat up, got a tissue and tried to blow it made his head ache so much that he flopped back onto the pillows and resigned himself to having to sniff. He knew it would take a few days for the cold to run its usual course and then it would slowly leave.

The next day passed in the same way, and then on the morning he felt awake enough to get up for a while, there was a quiet knock on the front door. At first he ignored it; he must look dreadful and felt even worse, and in that state he could well do without visitors. But the knocking became louder and more insistent, and eventually he answered it.

To his enormous surprise, there on his doorstep stood Ruth, wearing the same delightful look of concern he’d seen on her face on the morning she’d helped him. As soon as their eyes met, she smiled at him.

“Hello,” she said. “I’m sorry if I’m bothering you…but I worried when I didn’t see you on the train.”

“How did you dhow where to fide be?” he snuffled, inwardly cursing his voice.

“I went to your office,” she replied. “I see the logo on your briefcase every day, so I know where you work…and I’m afraid I pestered until Mike told me you were too sick to come in, and then he gave me your address.”

Mike. Of course. His sex-mad colleague, who had obviously taken one look at this beautiful girl who was asking for Alan and had not so much leaped as galloped happily to the wrong conclusion.

“I hope you don’t mind me turning up like this,” she said, her eyes holding his anxiously. He shook his head automatically and was nearly overcome by a sudden wave of dizziness; he clutched at the doorframe then found she was at his side, holding him up.

“Goodness, you really are sick!” She helped him back inside, closing the door behind them. He staggered giddily into the sitting room where she led him to the sofa and sat down next to him. When the dizziness passed, he turned his head and found himself seeing her close up. She was indeed beautiful to look at but what was more beautiful to Alan was the tender way she was looking back at him.

“How are you feeling?” she asked him softly.

“Dot good,” he replied hoarsely. “I’ve beed sdeezidg a lot ad by head aches.”

“You sound dreadfully stuffed up, you poor man. I don’t even know your first name…”

“I’b Alad.”

“You sound dreadfully stuffed up, Alan. Are you as uncomfortable as you sound?”

“Yes.” He attempted a smile but it didn’t quite happen. “I thidk I probably ab.”

She looked at him for a moment more then said, “Do you need to blow your nose?”

“I…” He hesitated. “Ruth, I ca’d.” Alan looked away from her for a second, embarrassed at the way he sounded. He couldn’t even blow as he already knew that wouldn’t work. To his frustration he felt his eyes filling with tears which he hurriedly tried to blink away before she saw; she would probably be horrified if he cried in front of her.

“You’re too blocked up, aren’t you. We can do something about that, though… hey, what is it?”

“I…” Gulp, sniff. “Dothidg, I…”

“Oh, hey. Come here, sweetie.”

Before Alan could object, Ruth had her arms around him and very gently drew his head down against her shoulder.

“It’s alright, sweetie, you have a good cry. I’ve got you, just let it out.”

The tenderness in her voice ripped through the last of his defences and Alan began to sob helplessly against Ruth’s shoulder. Her kindness, the rotten way he felt and the length of time since he’d had a girlfriend all hit him at once. His last relationship was with a girl who’d had no patience with any form of illness and so he’d tried to hide from her how bad a cold always made him feel. He remembered with shame the way she’d told him, when he was suffering yet again from one of his awful colds, that he was disgusting and more like a snotty five-year-old than a man.

That comment had triggered the row that ended their relationship, and he had not been sorry. But there had been no-one in his life for longer than he liked to think now, and he was wary of showing anyone else any form of neediness…and then Ruth had come to him so unexpectedly a few days ago and had helped him...and here she was now, untroubled by his stuffiness and even by his tears. It broke him down completely, and he just cried and cried. Through it all he was dimly aware that Ruth was holding him close to her and stroking his back.

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Excellent! It's lovely to get it from the male victim's viewpoint. Sniffling AND crying. I hope he's good at it [he seems to be] and has enough cheekbone space to catch the tears.

What next, I wonder.....

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  • 4 months later...

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