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Katie’s Cold


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Zack sat at his computer re-typing his notes for the calculus final. He couldn’t wait for this semester to end. The last week and half had been brutal. Finals week always was, but this one had seemed especially intense. He looked down at the clock. 8:30, he was surprised Katie hadn’t arrived by now. She was usually the more studious of the two of them and she had seemed really eager to do a study night together.

Katie and Zack had been best friends since junior high. Zack had originally hoped they would be more than friends, but those hopes had faded the last few years into a comfortable friendship. Zack didn’t even know if he even saw Katie that way anymore. Maybe after they both finished college he could revisit the idea, but for now he just wanted to graduate without a mental breakdown. Romance would just have to wait. Just then, he heard a knock on the door. He got up and opened the door, and standing there was Katie.

“Hey,” she said smiling. Her slender frame leaning against the door frame. Her long hair was planted in braid down her back and she was carrying a huge pile of stuff in her arms. Zack noticed immediately she looked tired and though she smiled warmly the smile didn’t quite reach her eyes. But he decided not to comment, after all everyone was tired and stressed this week, right?

“Shit, what’s all this stuff?” He asked looking at the pile in her arms as he moved aside for her to enter the dorm.

”Some of its for Calc but most is for my final English Lit project. I haven’t quite finished it yet.” She said guiltily. 

She set down her pile on the coffee table and slumped onto the ground. Zack watched her from the corner of his eye as he closed the door behind her. 
She sniffed lightly and rubbed at her nose. 

“You look tired.” He said, unable to ignore it now that she was inside.
“I’m alright… just ready for this to be over.” She answered.
”That makes two of us,” he said and he joined her on the floor.

”Ready to go through these notes? I just finished typing mine up so you can actually read them.” 

Katie laughed, “Thanks, I appreciate it.”

They sat side by side on the floor reading over each others notes. A comfortable silence between them. That years of close friendship creates.

As Zack read through Katie’s notes he could hear her sniffling softly next to him. He hoped she wasn’t coming down with something. That was the last thing anyone wanted to deal with during finals. Then he heard her sniffling change. It grew more intense and desperate. He looked over in time to see her breathe in deeply a vacant expression on her face and then… hgnxt-CHEW she sneezed. Her head bobbing down from the force. 

”Bless you,” Zack said feeling even more concerned now.

”Thanks…” Katie answered sniffling hard. She got up and walked over to the bathroom, grabbed some tissue and blew her nose softly. Then returned to her spot on the floor and her notes.

Zack tried to focus on his studying, but it was hard. He was on hyper alert now. In the quiet of the dorm, he could hear every little sniffle, every throat clear, every controlled breath. The minutes ticked by and he became more and more certain Katie wasn’t 100 percent. 

He was startled from his reading when Katie leaned over pointing to an equation on his notes.
“Are you sure this is right?” She asked clearing her throat. “I think you might be missing a piece of this equation.” Her voice sounded raspy and she coughed slightly at the end of her sentence.

”I think it’s right…” he said. I’ll double check it though.

”Ok, thanks.” She said sitting back. She sighed and rubbed her temples and closed her eyes for second. Then her breathing changed again. H-h-hu-CHEW! She sneezed again. “Ugh” she groaned and dug the tissue from her pocket to wipe her nose.

Zack looked over from the text book he was referencing.

“You ok? You don’t sound so great…”

Katie shrugged. “Honestly, I’ve felt kind off all day to day. I really hope I’m not getting sick…”

”Me too, that would really suck.” Zack answered. “Do you want me to drive you home?”

Katie shook her head. “I’m ok, I want to at least finish going over this last chapter.”

”Ok, if you’re sure” Zack answered. Although he wished she would call it a night and go get some rest. The girl looked exhausted at this point. “That equation is correct, by the way”

”Oh, ok…” Katie said sounding a bit defeated. “Guess I need to review that section too then.” She turned back to the notes.

Zack pulled out his laptop and decided to do one last edit of his marketing paper. He hoped it would distract him from worrying about Katie. 

It did.

An hour later when he looked over at Katie she was slumped over her textbook fast asleep.


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That's a very cute start ! I love the idea that they're friends even if Zack had (or still have) a love interest towards Katie. Can't wait to see where this is going ☺️

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Zack got up from the sofa and walked over to where Katie was. He nudged her gently. “Katie, wake up, come on I’m gonna drive you home.”

Katie sat up groggily. “Ugh shit… I just meant to rest my eyes for a second… I must have fallen asleep…” 

“Yeah, no shit Sherlock.” Zack said laughing.

Katie stretched her arms in front of her then coughed raspily. She stood up slowing, wincing as her sore body felt the effects of illness and sleeping on a textbook for the last hour. She began gathering up her belongings, but had to stop as her nose began to tickle intensely. H-Ha-CHEW! Ah-h HACHEW! ASCHEW! She sneezed three times. The intensity made her head swim.

”Jesus!” Zack said and he reached out and grabbed her arm to steady her. “Are you ok?” He asked, as he guided her to the couch and sat her down.

Katie sniffed hard but didn’t answer, her nose was full and was dangerously close to running down her lip. Zack handed her a box of tissue from the end table and she blew her nose hard.

Zack was watching her, concern etched across his face.

Katie signed exhaustedly. “I think I might be getting sick…” she admitted sheepishly.

”I think we might be past the “getting” part.” Zack answered a bit of his normal humor coming through.

”You might be right…” Katie said defeatedly. “Can you take me home now? I think I just want to go to sleep, maybe that will help me kick this before it gets worse…” She said hopefully.

”Of course, Let me just grab my coat.” Zack answered. He really hoped a good nights rest would help Katie, but he kind of doubted it.

Coat in hand Zack walked Katie out to the parking lot where his car sat. Katie lived on campus also, but she was on the opposite side and didn’t have a car. Zack definitely didn’t want her walking all the way home when she was feeling so crappy.

He opened the car door for her and she slide inside and immediately sneezed again. Heh-SHEW! 

“Bless you…” said Zack quietly. 

“Thangks…” mumbled Katie congestedly. She curled up into the passenger seat like she wanted to just melt into the interior.

Zack felt like his heart was gonna break in half. She looked so fragile and pathetic. He got into the drivers seat and started the car. The a/c turned on blowing cold air and Katie shivered. Zack quickly turned the dial over to the heater. It wasn’t a particularly cold night but he certainly didn’t want her feeling chilled on top of everything else. Katie sniffed miserably in the seat next to him before catching a double set of sneezes in her elbow. Heh-CHeW! h-h-ha CHEW! Zack placed his hand on her shoulder almost unconsciously, his heart fluttered. Would she pull away from his touch? But she didn’t, she seemed to lean into him savoring the warmth of his skin on hers. Her eyes closed as they drove through the abandoned campus streets.  

Soon they arrived at her dorm. Zack put the car in park and looked over at her watching her closely. She unbuckled her seat belt and then paused as an another sneeze began building in her nose. Heh- h-h- h-SHEW! She sneezed hard. Zack fumbled in the console pulling out a pack of tissues and handed them to her. 

“Thangs,” she said gratefully. She took two and cleared her nose and handed them back to him.

”You keep them, I’m afraid your going to need them…” he said kindly.

”I’mb afraid you’re righdt,” she said her voice congested and miserable sounding.  

Zack thought about walking her to her room but didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable, so instead he helped her out and gave her a hug. “I really hope you feel better tomorrow. Let me know if you need anything, ok?”

”I wbill, goodnighdt, Zack.” Katie answered and disappeared inside. 

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The next morning Zack arrived in class. He was nervous for the final but felt decently well prepared. Mostly he was just excited to be finished with the semester. When he entered the room, he scanned the seats for Katie but she wasn’t there. No big deal, he thought. It’s still early. He picked a seat near the back and began unpacking his things. When he finished he looked at the clock. 7:56 still no Katie. 

7:58 and Katie rushed in. 2 minutes to spare. She threw herself into the desk next to Zack. He could hear her breathing hard. Her eyes were rimmed with dark circles, and her nose shown pink against the pale hue her skin had taken on. She looked like she hadn’t slept a wink last night. 

“Made it by the skin of your teeth, huh?” He whispered. Hoping to lighten the mood and hoping against hope that maybe she looked worse than she felt…

Katie glanced at him but didn’t answer.

The tests were passed out, and an intense silence fell heavy over the classroom.

Zack was focused intensely on his test. He was working on a particularly lon equation, when he heard Katie’s breathing growing erratic next to him. He could tell even t without looking up that she was fighting a sneeze. Her breath came in short sniffles punctuated by sharp intakes as she fought against the urge to sneeze. H-… -heh… sniffle… h-h….heh- *sniff*. Zack sneaked a peek over at Katie she had her finger pressed against her nose but it was clearly a loosing battle. Her eyes went glassy and her chest rose dramatically as she breathed in deeply then… heh- HEH- ha- SHEW! She sneezed loudly. But the deep intense tickle still tormented her. She rummaged in her bag with a sense of urgency and pulled out the packet of tissue from last night. She caught three more sneezes into her handful of tissues. Which helped contain a bit of the sound but not enough that everyone couldn’t clearly hear her misery. Hh-shew! hgnx-SHeW! Ah-CHEW! 
“Bless you…” mumbled several members of the class. Katie sniffled her face hot with embarrassment and frustration. She coughed roughly into her fist and returned to her test dejectedly.

Zack watched her from the corner of his eye, she was obviously worse off than she had been last night. He longed to scoop her up and tuck her into bed with piles of blankets and soup. But they both needed to get through this final first. He tried to focus on his test, but kept glancing over at Katie every 2 minutes or so. She was dabbing her nose constantly with the sodden tissues but it wasn’t enough to stop her from sniffling desperately. He could hear how congested she must be, and the fact that she was only breathing through her mouth confirmed it. He saw her rub at her eyes and temples, she must have an awful sinus headache too… he thought sympathetically. 

Somehow, in spite of watching Katie like a hawk, Zack managed to finish his test before Katie. He turned it in at the front of the class and looked over at Katie one last time as he gathered his belongings. She was still working away, but had to stop mid problem to catch another set of barely stifled sneezes into her tissues. She looked close to tears… He wished he could stay and keep an eye on her, but instead he resigned himself to sitting outside the classroom and waiting for her to exit. After another 30 minutes, she did. 

Zack stood up when he saw her walking out. She looked absolutely wrecked… Zack walked over to her. He wrapped his arm around her and gave her a reassuring side hug. “Hey there… You ok?” Katie rested her head on his shoulder before answering. When she did her voice was threadbare and strained  “I dond’t feel good…” she whispered miserably. Zack rubbed her shoulder. “I know you don’t… Can I do anything? Can I take you home?” Katie shook her head and sighed. Then started to say,
“I still n- need t-to H-Heh- HaSCHeW! Ha-SHEW!” 

“Still need to sneeze?” Zack asked grinning. 

“DNo.” Katie said not amused. “I needh to turn inb my Lit project.” She sniffled and pulled another tissue from her pocket. 
“Alright,” Zack said his voice softening. She obviously wasn’t in the mood for jokes. “I’ll meet you at the car then?”

Katie nodded. “Yes, please.”

Zack smiled at her encouragingly. “Ok, sounds good, hang in there!”


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Zack sat in the front seat of the car waiting for Katie. After what seemed like an eternity she opened the car door and collapsed into the passenger seat. Zack looked over at her.

“You look like shit,” he said sympathetically.

“Gee thangks…” she grumbled back. Then curled her legs up onto the seat and laid her head on her knees. Zack rested a hand on the back of her neck.

“Sorry, that’s not what I meant… I meant you look like you feel like shit…”

Katie just nodded then her breath began to hitch in response. 

“Ugh n-no, I g-go-gonna sn—- H-hhhh- HASHEW! H- hhhh- hCHEW! H -Ishoo! She groaned in the aftermath of the attack and sniffed heavily. Zack rubbed her back gently handing her some fresh tissues from the console.

“Here…” he said gently. She accepted the pile gratefully and blew her nose 3 times in a row. Even after that, Zack could still hear the congestion in her voice when she spoke.

“Thangks Zack…” Then she coughed roughly into her fist. Hard enough that it brought tears to her eyes. The sound tore at his heart. He hated it. He started the car and pointed it toward her dorm not really knowing what else to do. All he could think about was getting her into bed as quickly as possible. 

Outside her dorm Zack parked the car. He looked over at Katie she was staring out the window not moving. Her eyes looked tired and unfocused. Zack got out walked around and helped her gently out of the car. She climbed out slowly and a bit unsteadily. Zack kept his arm wrapped around her waist afraid she might tip over if he let go. He started walking her toward the door, but suddenly she stopped. Zack felt her body tense and her breath change h-h-hASHOOoo! She sneezed hard doubling over at the waist and Zack tightened his hold on her. Her head slumped against his shoulder. 
“Zack…” she whimpered “I feelb awful…”

“I know… honey…” he said, the term of endearment sneaking past his internal filter. He squeezed her tightly into him, his neck pressed against her head that was resting on his shoulder. He could feel the heat radiating off of her. She’s probably running a fever… he thought worriedly. 
“Come on, let’s get you inside and into bed…” Katie nodded before sneezing again.

Slowly they made their way up to her dorm. Zack unlocked the door for her and guided her into her room. She flopped onto the bed exhaustion evident in her every movement. She curled into a fetal position and Zack could see she was shivering. Worried he reached down and laid a hand across her forehead. It was hot to the touch.
“You’re burning up…” he said, concern lacing his voice. “Do you have a thermometer or any medicine here?” Katie nodded “bathroom cabinet..” she whispered before a volley of sneezes overtook her.

Zack walked quickly to the bathroom. He found the thermometer and a bottle of cold medicine. He returned to the bedroom poured her a dose of medicine and placed the thermometer in her mouth. As they sat waiting for the thermometer to beep Katie huddled into him. He wrapped his arm around her and grabbed the blanket from the foot of her bed and wrapped it around her legs. The thermometer beeped and Zack took it from her mouth.  

“101.7,” he announced. “Congratulations, you’re officially sick.” Katie rolled her eyes and coughed in reply… Zack winced, that had to be hurting her throat.

“Alrighty, I want you to lay down in this bed and get some sleep.” Zack said matter of factly. Katie looked up at him her eyes glassy and red rimmed. H-h- hICHeW! she sneezed into the blanket on her lap…  “Willb you stayb with me?” She asked her voice hopeful and pleading. Zack didn’t hesitate, that was all he wanted to do. He laid down next to her and wrapped her in his arms. She snuggled into him contentedly. Her head resting on his chest eyes closed. A look of discomfort crossed her face and she sniffled then sneezed into his chest H-hh-Achew! “Ugh I’mb sorry…” she mumbled embarrassed … Zack leaned down and kissed her softly on the top of the head. 

“It’s ok love, just sleep now,” he whispered softly.

Katie smiled and was asleep in minutes.

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