I could tell I was coming down with the flu. I had a thick, cotton-wool head, my nose was sniffly, and a general feeling of malaise had settled over my body.
Dammit! I thought to myself. This weekend of all weekends!
My husband and I had been planning this trip for ages – a romantic getaway for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. In fact, he was on his way to pick me up right now. We were leaving straight from work in an attempt to make the most of time we had.
I sluggishly paced the front entrance of my school and prayed it was just a little head cold. Maybe if I ignored it and just carried on with our plans, it would go away, I hoped. I popped two Panadol into my mouth and took a swig of water from my drink bottle to wash them down. As I placed the cap back on the bottle, our little red car rounded the corner.
My husband pulled up and I opened the door. I jumped in, and he said, “Gee, you look terrible. Are you feeling okay?”
Feeling bolder now that I had taken the paracetamol, I replied, “Sure, just a little tired. It’s been a big week.”
“Well, sit back and relax. I can drive the whole way to Halls Gap if you like?” he offered.
“That would be great. Thanks,” I answered, gratefully.
He pulled out from the kerb, and put on a podcast to listen to, while I closed my eyes. The motion of the car, and the monotone voice droning from the radio, soon soothed me to sleep.
When I woke, I felt a little better! Thank goodness! I thought.
I sat up and looked around, trying to get my bearings. I noticed we had pulled into a service station, and across the road a sign read ‘Ararat Bakehouse’. My husband returned to the car with some basic supplies and a couple of meat pies for dinner.
“Here you go sleepyhead,” he smiled, handing me the food. “We’re only about 45 minutes away!”
I could hear the excitement in his voice. We had been looking forward to this weekend and had lots of hiking and outdoor activities planned. He had also found us a rustic log cabin to stay in. That was our version of camping.
As we started off again, the fog began to roll in. We watched the temperature gauge on the car, drop 8 degrees. Soon, we could barely see a metre in front of us. My husband reduced his speed from the 100 km limit to 80 km. White knuckled, he gripped the steering wheel, straining to see.
Suddenly, a kangaroo flew out in front of us, merrily hopping across our path. My husband swore and braked – narrowly missing it.
“Damn ‘roos!” he cursed.
“That was close,” I agreed, shaken. “Remember last time we came here, we also had emus and deer running across the road too?”
“That’s right. There were too,” he recalled. Being even more cautious, he slowed his pace further and the 45 minute journey, soon grew into 1 hour and 20 minutes. Finally, we arrived.
Reception had waited for us, realising we had most likely been caught up in the thick fog. “It’s a real pea souper out there tonight,” our host said, stating the obvious.
We opened the door to our cabin which was as quaint and cosy as the pictures on the booking site had promised. The fire had also been started for us. Quite some time ago, given the warmth emitting from the flue – it was permeating throughout the whole place; living room, kitchen and bedroom.
We unloaded our belongings from the car and quickly settled on the couch with a glass of red wine, enjoying the warmth of the fire. As we sipped our drinks and chatted, the feeling of being unwell descended upon me once more.
Disappointed, I headed to bed for an early night, hoping a ‘good night’s sleep’, would see me right for the two big walks we had planned the next day…
When I roused, the digital clock on the bedside table informed me it was 5:33am. The next thing I noticed, was the unbearable heat. I was sweating profusely and sticky; entangled in the sheets. The air felt thick and heavy. My head pounded and the roof of my mouth felt itchy and dry. My lips were crusty and razor blades scratched up and down my throat. My nose was so blocked, no air could pass through either nostril. My joints and muscles ached from my teeth to my toes. I groaned and threw myself out of the restrictive covers, desperate for air.
I padded into the kitchen and poured myself a huge glass of water. I gulped it down and then headed to the front door, walking out of the claustrophobic heat of the log cabin and into the frosty early hours of the new day. The air was a welcome chill against my burning skin and as I mouth-breathed in and out, steam accompanied every time. I sighed with relief but then, feeling a bit dizzy and wobbly on my feet, I sat myself down in one of the bistro chairs on the porch. I closed my eyes and waited for my fever to subside.
As the sun began to peek over the horizon, illuminating the sentinel boulders that adorned the towering peaks of the mountains that surrounded the gap, I remembered the beauty of this place and ached to be able to experience it.
I hoped with every fibre of my being that, Halls Gap had a pharmacy. Because flu or no flu, in an ultimate test of mind over matter, I was determined to climb those mountains, and hike those trails. Just as we’d planned…
P.S. Halls Gap DID indeed have a pharmacy and, using frequent and maximum dosages of lozenges, cold and flu tablets and nose spray, I did manage to hold off from succumbing, for the remainder of the weekend. I WAS able to do those hikes. (Never mind that I then fell in a heap and had the next week and a half off work! I maintain it was worth it.)
By Sarah ©2017
Prompt: Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, Saturday Mix, Double Take – 25 November 2017. Homophones to use: bolder – more courageous, boulder – large rock, flew – past tense of fly, flu – short for influenza, flue – chimney pipe; and also, Daily Post Daily Prompt, degree