“Can you sit up a minute and drink some broth?” Natalie asked in a soft voice. Light shone from somewhere around him and Ethan wasn’t sure if she had turned on the lamp or if he’d slept through the night.
Ethan propped himself on one elbow and sipped the cup she offered. Warm savory goodness flowed down his throat in several gulps before he pushed her away and laid his head back on the pillow, replacing the intruding light with the oblivion of sleep.
The next time he woke the motorhome was moving. Ethan was aware enough to realize Natalie must be driving somewhere. The swaying of the vehicle made him dizzy and nauseous, but he used focused meditation techniques to force his body to relax and was soon back to sleep.
All movement had stopped, and his surroundings were dark and quiet. Ethan still felt terrible but recognized the need to use the restroom. He raised his heavy arm to lift the comforter and slowly swung his legs over the side of the bed. His limbs were weak, and his head was foggy, but he managed to stumble to the tiny commode, thankful it was only a few feet away.
When he made his way back to bed the thought occurred to him that Natalie was missing. Before laying down, he peered through the darkness and saw her bed empty. He had no idea where she’d gone or why she’d left so he fell back onto his pillow. He was too fatigued to pull both his legs all the way up, so he left one leg hanging off the side of the bed. He tried to pull the comforter back over himself.
The door to the motorhome opened and Ethan heard Natalie tromp up the steps and into the living room area. She set something on the table and then she was in his doorway.
“Hey, sleepyhead, how are you feeling?” Natalie leaned down and lifted his leg up onto the bed and pulled the comforter back over his body.
“Good enough to make it to the bathroom and back.” He tried to smile. “Didn’t want to wet the bed.”
“That would be bad.” Natalie chuckled. “Do you think you could walk a little further than that? I got us a hotel room and the door is right over there.” She pointed toward the front of the motorhome.
He didn’t lift his head off the pillow but could envision the distance between the parking lot and a room that likely had a decent sized shower. Motivating, but still a long walk. “I can try.” He didn’t move.
“I’ll take some things inside while you rest a minute and then I’ll help you walk, okay?”
“Okay,” Ethan said, letting his eyes close again.
He awoke to the sound of a man’s voice. “Are you sure you don’t need a hospital?”
“No, his fever has broke. He’s just very weak,” Natalie said. “If he collapsed while we were walking, I wouldn’t be able to hold him up and we’d both fall.”
Ethan sensed a man towering over him and felt Natalie crawl onto his bed from the other side, sliding her arm under his shoulders.
“Hey buddy,” the man’s gentle voice said. “I’m Tom. I’m the hotel manager. I’ve got a wheelchair for you right out here. Do you think you can walk that far if I help you?”
“Sure,” Ethan mumbled, recognizing Natalie lifting his shoulders from behind and Tom lifting his arms until he was in a seated position. The man helped Ethan to his feet, and he told himself that the distance wasn’t far. A few more steps and he could sit back down. With Tom in front of him, guiding him and offering support, Ethan made it down the stairs and gratefully collapsed into the wheelchair. “Thanks man.”
“No problem,” Tom said. “Let’s get you inside your room.” He took the handles of the wheelchair and rolled toward the door, which wouldn’t have been more than a few feet to a healthy person. It would have felt like a mile to Ethan.
Tom and Natalie repeated the process of lifting Ethan from the wheelchair and into a queen-sized bed. As he allowed the pillow to swallow his head, Ethan heard Natalie ask Tom to have room service send over some soup and crackers and whatever else they thought a man recovering from a fever would want to eat. Ethan wasn’t hungry. He drifted away from the conversation.