She drops the car keys in her handbag and walks up the driveway in a hurried pace. It's not that she's panicking, - there could be a lot of reasons why Michael wasn't picking up his phone, or the landline, really. She just wants to find them asap, make sure everything's fine and give them each a kiss. She decides to check the backyard first because it's the place from where one can't hear the phone ringing inside the house, and instantly hears Mike's voice, before even rounding the corner. She silently thanks herself for not giving in to her anxiety and not running around looking for them like some neurotic. Although who could blame her if she did? She slows her pace a little more and reaches the backyard finally spotting them both sitting in the middle of it, surrounded by some wooden planks and tools, papers, and what not. She can't help the relieved and happy smile spreading across her face.
- Mom! – Mike is the first to notice her and he crosses the distance separating them in long jumps and flings himself at her. She hugs him tight and kisses his head:
- Hi, baby.
Michael is smiling at her from his position in the grass between a heap of wooden planks and tools scattered around.
- What are you, guys, doing? – she asks them curiously and bends to give Michael a kiss on his smiling lips and lets him know: - I was trying to reach you since lunchtime.
His smile falters a bit, and she can see a shade of guilt on his face:
- I'm sorry, we got engaged with this stuff here.. And I forgot about the phone. Sorry, - he repeats the heartfelt apology for making her worry and runs a hand along her hip.
- Yeah, we're building a doghouse, mom! – Mike drops back onto the grass beside his father and grabs a paper with their project sketched on it to show her excitedly.
- A doghouse? – Sara is a little confused. They didn't have a dog. And they haven't discussed a possibility of adopting/buying one. She looks at Michael questioningly but Mike is the first to answer:
- I know, we don't have a dog, but a doghouse is a cool thing to build. It's not too big and not too small, and it's useful, so we're not just wasting building material.
Something tells her these were Michaels' words, their son just reciting them to her. She looks at Michael and there he is, smiling sweetly at her:
- Right, sweetheart, it's an interesting project to work on, Mike wanted us to build something using wooden planks and a doghouse is a perfect thing to practice.
- Mhm, - Sara nods comprehendingly, - I can understand that, and how is a doghouse useful in the household that doesn't actually have a dog, remind me?
- Well, uh, - Michael exchanges a look with his son. – It's not really useful at the moment, but it will become handy when, I mean if we decide to get a dog. Some day. After we talk about it. And discuss it with you, of course.
- Uh-huh, - Sara can't help but laugh a little, turning her head away from them. They were adorable, teaming up together like that. She feels like giving in right away and saying "Alright, let's get a dog, tomorrow! Or right now." Anything they want, really. But right in the moment when she opens her mouth to speak, Michael sneezes loudly, twice, and she looks at him, asking instead:
- Are you okay?
- Yeah, sorry. I'm fine. Maybe we should take a break and have a drink or a snack on the patio, together? – he starts gathering the scattered tools.
- You sure you don't want to go inside? – she asks.
He insists on staying outside and she goes into the house, dropping the handbag on the small table by the door, changes quickly and arranges a snack of small sandwiches and lemonade with Mike's help.
By the time evening rolls on, Michael is sneezing every 5 minutes and upon putting her small hand on his forehead and looking into his tired watery eyes she pronounces him sick and commands:
- You go lie down right now, and I will make you something hot to drink.
She half expects him to put up resistance and insist on finishing Mike's homework check up, but he complies with an obedient "Okay" and disappears in the bedroom. She watches him with a surprised but satisfied look.
When the hot ginger root tea is ready, she brings it into the dusky room where he lies awake but with his eyes closed heavily. When she enters and deposits the cup onto his bedside cabinet he opens one eye tiredly and thanks her.
She sits down beside him on the bed and massages his chest lightly.
- I was kind of surprised when you actually got up and went to bed right away, - she smiles timidly.
He opens his eyes at that and catches her hand in his slowly.
- Sara, - he pauses for a bit. – For seven years, when I wasn't.. when I was sick or hurt, or feeling lost.. I dreamt of you being there, taking me away, curing me, taking care of me. It has been my most sacred wish. So.. Right now I am not gonna put up a fight, I am going to let you take care of me, because it's what I want the most, right now. Or any other time, to be honest.
She squeezed his hand and gets up to kiss the side of his face, once, twice, multiple times.
- I will take care of you. Don't you worry, - she tries to subside a sob, but to no avail. - Because it's what I want the most.
After finishing up the dishes and walking Mike through his evening routine, having tucked him in bed and changing into her Pjs, she finally slides into bed next to Michael's feverishly warm body. The medicine she gave him about an hour ago has started to kick in, but his sleep is still not deep enough to keep him oblivious to her presence beside him. He drapes a hand around her shoulder without opening his eyes.
The 'How are you feeling" question will have to wait till the morning because she knows how he is feeling – sick and hot and tired. She nestles into his arm and closes her eyes, laying a hand on his heaving chest. Sleep almost claims her a few minutes later, when Michael's raspy voice whispers into her ear:
She opens her eyes and slides her hand along his chest letting him know she's awake. The darkness is cozy and sticky and warm.
- We should have a getaway weekend. The three of us. Camping somewhere nice. You know, rent a trailer. Or a camping tent. Just us and the nature. Get away from here.
His voice was trailing away but she caught every word. Get away from here. The phrase alarmed her and she put it away in her head to bring up later. It was something to talk about, but not now, not in this feverish daze.
- Yeah, we should, - she strokes his chest reassuringly. – Mike's going to love it. But first you need to get well.
She places a kiss on his skin under her cheek and he sighs, giving in to the slumber.