The 2013 flu season has officially been labeled an epidemic. It began earlier than usual, has infected more people than usual, and at a faster rate. Some American cities have even declared the situation an emergency. See how a couple discusses the disease and the ways they can avoid getting infected.
“The Flu Cure”
“Don’t bite your nails,” she said. It’s something she was training him not to do, and there had been improvement. For Christmas she had bought him a portable nail kit which he kept in his car. During lunch every two weeks or so, he would cut his nails, but in between trims he’d continue the biting habit.
“Let me see them,” she said. The left index’s nail rose and fell in small peaks like a daily stock market graph. She shook her head in disappointment.
He was generally a clean man, she thought. She knew that biting them wasn’t something he was proud of and this motivated her to help him. ”Don’t you know there’s a flu outbreak?” she asked.
“About that. I don’t think I’m gonna go along with the shot this Saturday.”
“What do you mean? It doesn’t make sense for me to get one if you’re not going to.”
“I’ve never gotten one. I’m already doing everything I can to not get it. I wash my hands so much that I’ve dried them up. I broke blood on them.” She looked at the dry skin over his knuckles and saw specs of dry red over a couple of cracks. The skin over the finger joints was rough and dark. ”I touch so many doors and papers all day, I have to wash them all the time. It’s everywhere right now. I hear it in people’s breathing and I see it in everything I touch,” he continued. ”I wiped down the steering wheel, hand brake and window buttons too.”
“You can’t stop using your hands. If it’s not a door handle, it’s going to be your phone case, a pen, or whatever. You need lotion.”
She left the couch and walked to the bedroom. He looked at the TV control but didn’t touch it.
“I was reading today that out of 145 million flu vaccines made, they’ve distributed 129,” she came back saying, holding the bottle of lotion. “They said it’s a good one this year, that it’s protecting people good enough.”
“What’s good enough?”
“I’m achieving about the same with washing.”
“Did you hear that Boston and some other cities have declared an emergency?”
“Yes. Sean’s mom got sick, he told me, and he quarantined her away from the kids after he heard about kids dying. He wears nitrile gloves to bring her food.” She was massaging lotion onto his knuckles and then gave him the bottle to have him continue.
“Sounds like a good idea,” she said. “Exactly my plan with you once I get the shot. I’m going this Saturday. 129 million people can’t be wrong.”
* * *
On Saturday he drove her to the in-store clinic to get the shot. While she got it, he walked the store aisles with his hands in his pockets. She called him when it was over and they met at the front by the cashiers. He had a box of condoms in his hands. “The flu doesn’t have to come between us,” he said.
Published Jan. 17, 2013. Image courtesy of USACE Europe District.
For your reference, links to the real-life news stories that inspired “The Flu Cure”: Flu Outbreak Already Ranks as Epidemic