This is a work of fiction.
“Would you like me to call an ambulance?”
Mercy shakes her head.
“Would you like to sleep in my guest room?”
“Please,” she whispers.
Thank goodness there’s one on the main floor.
I’ve been setting it up for when Mom, Dad, and Mona come to visit. So far, there’s just a bed and a nightstand.
I pull back the covers, and Mercy climbs into bed with her clothes on.
She closes her eyes, and I say, “The bathroom’s down the hall and I’ll leave a glass of water on the nightstand and another one on the vanity in the bathroom. If you need anything else, call out to me. I’ll be in the living room.”
She doesn’t answer, and I hope she’s heard what I’ve said.
“Good night, Mercy.”
I leave the glasses of water as promised, and then go into the living room and sit at my desk.
I spend the next hour on the Internet, browsing and then ordering art supplies.
I check my e-mail and write a bunch of replies.
Soon, it’s morning, and I haven’t heard a sound from the guest room.
Maybe I should go check on Mercy.
I tiptoe into the room. With only the bed and nightstand, it seems quite empty.
She’s asleep, and the glass of water is still full.
I go back to the living room and work on a painting until I hear Mercy getting up.
I meet her in the hall outside the guest room.
“Hi,” I say. “Do you need more water?”
She looks exhausted, but gives me a small smile.
“No thanks. You’re Billy, right?”
“Did I do anything dumb last night?”
“No. You rang the doorbell, I gave you a glass of water, and then you went to bed.”
“Thanks,” she says. The word is spoken with an emphasis I can’t put my finger on.
“I’m sorry,” she says.
“Don’t sweat it.”
She smiles faintly, and then looks serious.
“I have it.”
“Do you want to call anyone?”
She shakes her head.
“Okay. Do you want to talk? Or go back to bed?”
“Do you mind if I have a bath and then go to bed?”
“I don’t mind at all. If you want, I can lend you some clothes I bought for when Mom visits. I think she’s about your size.”
“If she wouldn’t mind, please.”
“She doesn’t know about them yet. I just bought a couple things so she wouldn’t have to do laundry or run home if Mona made a mess.”
“My baby sister. Who’s Eva?”
She looks like she might cry, and I feel crappy.
“Sorry, um . . . can I help you with anything for your bath?”
She shakes her head.
“Okay, I’ll go get the clothes. Do you prefer a nightie or pyjamas?”
She smiles at me.
“Oh, definitely pyjamas.”
Once I hear the tub filling, I go into the kitchen and look for something to eat.
Good thing I’ve bought a lot of food. With us here together, I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up with a case of coronavirus too.
I make myself some bacon and eggs and wonder if I should cook for Mercy, but decide to wait until I can ask her what she’d like.
I’ve just finished eating when I hear the bathroom door open, and Mercy’s footsteps in the hall.
“Would you like breakfast?” I call.
“Ugh, no thank you.”
Mercy sleeps most of the day, and when she does wake up, it’s just to use the bathroom and get more water.
I spend the day painting, checking on Mercy, and trying not to think about coronavirus.