Martha looked up from her laptop at the sound of Aaron opening the door – a rather unexpected sound, since it was the middle of the afternoon on a weekday.
"Hi," he said huskily.
"You're home early. Everything all right?"
"I left early," he admitted reluctantly. "I thought I had a cold coming on this morning, and it's been getting worse all day." He coughed as if to punctuate his statement.
Concerned, Martha hurried over and put her hand to his forehead. "You do feel a little warm." The fact that he'd left work was enough to convince her he was ill – normally it was totally unlike her husband to do such a thing. "Do you want to go to the doctor?" she added, concerned.
"No, I'm fine. I just need a little rest, that's all. You keep on with your work and I'll go change." He headed off to the bedroom, reappearing shortly afterward in pajamas and a robe. After brewing himself a cup of tea he slumped down on the couch with the paper and a box of tissues nearby. Knowing he didn't like to be fussed over, Martha continued typing but glanced over frequently. She didn't like the deep sound of his cough or his frequent shifting of position, as though he couldn't get comfortable. After about half an hour, she headed to the bathroom to check the medicine cabinet.
Returning with a bottle in her hand she announced, "I'm going out to get you some cough medicine. The only thing we have right now is aspirin." She shook out a couple of tablets and added, "Here, take these," as she handed him a blanket.
"It's raining. I'm sure I can manage till tomorrow—"
"Don't be silly. You're getting worse by the minute. I'll be back soon." She kissed his forehead and picked up her purse. "Try watching some TV, or just relax for a bit."
When she returned Aaron had fallen into a light doze. Martha put her heavily laden grocery bag down on the counter and looked at him fondly. Unlike Charles, who had always been the type to complain loudly when he got sick, Aaron was reluctant to admit he had anything wrong with him. She turned back to the bag and began to unload its contents, taking inventory as she did so to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything.
"What's this? I thought you were going for cough syrup." Martha turned to find her husband behind her, staring at the array of food and medications spread across the counter.
"Well, I decided to get you some other stuff while I was at it. Feed a cold, starve a fever. Remember?"
Aaron rolled his eyes. "You sound like my mom," he answered with a grin. "What did you get?"
Martha began to list each item. "Orange juice, and I also got one of those juice blend things that has Echinacea in it. I figured we might as well try it. Zinc tablets, Vitamin C, cough drops, cough syrup, decongestant, Seven-Up, chicken broth, lemons, honey…" she smiled at his stunned look. "Everything you could ever need for a cold."
"Wow. The last time I was sick, it was just me, and I toughed it out with tea and cold medicine. You're spoiling me." He gave her a hug.
"You deserve to be spoiled. I love to take care of you, you know that. Try some of the cough syrup and I'll make you some soup." She waved the can of broth to emphasize her point. "My mother used to make this for me when I got sick."
Twenty minutes later Martha presented Aaron with a tray. "Here's some crackers to go with it."
Aaron spooned up the soup. "This is pretty good. You put rice in it?"
"Rice and lemon juice. My mother's cure-all." She sat down next to him as he continued to eat. After he finished, he looked at her for a moment and said softly, "Thank you. I haven't had someone take care of me like this since I was a kid."
"You're welcome, honey." As Aaron put his arm around her, she leaned into his shoulder. "Feeling better?"
"I do feel better. This is almost worth being sick." He grinned and added, "I wish I could spin this out for a few days just to be here with you."
"You should, but I know you won't. But," she added firmly, "you are most definitely not going in to work tomorrow. I'm going to keep you here no matter what."
Aaron looked dubious. "Well, I suppose I could get Mitchell to bring me my files.
And I've got my laptop."
"Tomorrow, my love, you are telecommuting. Tell Mitchell it's on the orders of your nurse." She kissed his forehead. "Now I think it's time for you to go to bed."
"Okay, nurse, I will. Anything to keep you happy." He stood up wearily. "You know something?" he added as they walked into the bedroom. "It's great to be married."
She squeezed his hand. "It is, isn't it?"