I really didn't feel like getting out of bed this morning. Under the covers, it was warm. Out from under the covers... well, I didn't want to release myself from them to find out. It really didn't help matters that I had awoken with a throbbing headache, a sore throat and one very upset stomach. I coughed as I turned over, pulling the quilt up higher. Oh, and did I mention the fever? They're the worst. Your head feels all warm as though you're going to break out in a sweat any time, but you don't. Then the rest of you is just plain cold. I curled up to accommodate my aching stomach. Maybe a glass of water would do it good; it certainly couldn't make my throat feel any worse. I sat up and just stayed there for a few minutes, pondering whether or not it was worth it.
I pulled back the covers and shivered, though I knew the day was warm. Getting up and walking over to the sink was a lot easier than I would have thought, and I drank a half glass of the soothing water before making the trek back to the warmth of the sheets. I was just settling myself down when he came along.
"Hey, Beanpole... uuh, why aren't you up?" the Lorax looked at me quizzically. I sighed. What did I expect? A day without having my comfortable privacy invaded? My head throbbed at every syllable he spoke.
"Would you mind speaking just a little bit quieter?" I groaned, burying my face in the pillow.
"I'll speak as loud as I want," he said defiantly.
"Go speak as loud as you want somewhere else."
"What, you got a problem with the way I'm talking? All I did was say hello."
"I'm sick," I said simply, removing my face from the pillow. I was surprised at how hoarse my voice sounded, but I really wasn't prepared for the strange look on the Lorax's face.
"Hey, what'd you do to your voice?" he asked.
"I told you, I'm sick," I answered once more, turning over under the covers to face away from him. I felt the mattress depress a bit when he jumped up on the bed behind me.
"What do you mean, sick?" It was my turn to be surprised. I turned over and looked at him incredulously.
"Really?" I asked. He nodded. He was sitting cross-legged on the opposite side of my bed, looking at me expectantly as though I could pull a simple answer out of thin air. Great, how was I going to explain this? I thought about it for a minute.
"It's when... um, well, you just basically don't feel good. Y'know, like when you get a fever and you don't want to get out of bed... and your throat gets sore and stuff like that." Wow, that was a terrible explanation.
"And you just want to go to sleep," I added as an afterthought, hoping that he'd take the hint. Of course, he didn't. He just sat there; he was probably trying to work out what I'd tried and failed to explain. I turned over again to face the wall, and was just nodding off when he asked,
"What's a fever?" I sighed. Really? Legendary guardian of the forest... speaks for the trees and all, and he didn't know what a simple common cold was? I was getting a bit frustrated trying to describe the things I couldn't find a precise definition for, so I snatched up his tiny orange hand and placed it on my forehead.
"That's a fever?" he asked. I nodded and he brought his hand away. I once again turned back over and pulled the quilt up to my ears, hoping to block out any further noise he might make in an attempt to appease my headache. Amazingly, after that, he said nothing at all, and I slowly drifted off into a fitful sleep.
When next I woke, I felt something warm leaning against my back. Looking over my shoulder, I saw the furry meatloaf using my back as a pillow, sound asleep. Next problem of the day: how to get up without disturbing the slightly annoying guardian of the forest. Very slowly, I pulled off the covers and shifted out from under them as quietly as I could. So far, so good. The floor was rather cold to my bare feet, but I ignored it for the moment and rummaged around for my robe. I brushed off a couple of dingy-smelling mothballs before slipping the fuzzy thing on. It was the same colour as my vest, but admittedly much warmer.
Walking over to the stove, I decided that I might as well start up a pot of soup... or at least broth. Now, where did I put the pots? After looking around for a bit, I found them balancing haphazardly on top of the fridge exactly where I hadn't put them. Sighing was going to become my new hobby. I picked one up off of the top and stepped back, bracing myself for the inevitable din of pots clanging to the floor and the Lorax's yell of horror at being woken up so abruptly. Two seconds later...
As my headache returned, I watched the Lorax's left arm shoot into the air, silently thanking my lucky stars that I hadn't been on the receiving end as before. I rolled my eyes and turned to set the pot I was holding on the element, clearing out the remains of a few Truffula Fruits as I did so. Perhaps if the Bar-ba-loots decided to eat them somewhere besides within my kitchenware, and perhaps if they stopped stacking everything in sight – including themselves – I'd have a lot more success in keeping track of the few things I could actually claim that I owned. After a few minutes of preparing the broth, it occurred to me that the Lorax hadn't said a word since he'd been awoken. I glanced back towards my bed to see him staring at me. I let it pass... for now.
"You want some soup?" I asked, acting as though I was oblivious to his gaze.
"Uh, sure," he said hesitantly. He'd said the exact same thing when I had offered pancakes the first time. He didn't know what they were, but refused to back down from the challenge of eating a strange human food. I turned back to the now-boiling liquid in the pot and added whatever somewhat fresh vegetables I could find that hadn't been commandeered by the Bar-ba-loots and Swomee-Swans. I could still feel him looking at me, and I tried very hard to ignore it. But seriously, it was getting a bit annoying. I turned to face him again.
"What?" I asked. "I'm not wearing pink, flowers, or bunnies, and I haven't screamed like a girl for at least two days, so why are you staring at me like that?"
"You're not bouncing off the walls," He said as though it were obvious.
"I'm not usually in the practice of bouncing off of flat vertical surfaces." He looked at me oddly.
"No, I mean you're being really slow," he clarified.
"Like I've said a few times now, I'm sick," I told him. That apparently didn't ease his mind on the matter. I just waved a dismissive hand and walked over to my dresser, pulling out my clothes, hat, and several small rocks. I'm sure Pipsqueak put them there. I decided against dressing for the moment; the comfort of my pajamas (stars, not bunnies) and the robe seemed just a bit more appealing. I brought a hand up to pinch the bridge of my nose and set the other hand on the dresser. I really hated headaches.
"Why are you in here, anyway?" I asked.
"Oh, right, I forgot to tell ya; the Humming-Fish are teaching Pipsqueak to swim and he wants to show ya." He said. I smiled. I could only imagine what that would be like to watch.
"And is he any good at it?" I asked as I walked back towards the stove and found two relatively clean bowls stacked upon a pile of forks, spoons, and books.
"Uhhh, sort of..." the Lorax said with a hand tilted half-way in the air. "It depends on whether the Humming-Fish are holding him up or not." I laughed, then instantly regretted it when I broke into a coughing fit. The Lorax was on his feet and next to me in an instant.
"Hey, Beanpole, y'all right?" I nodded and took a deep breath. I straightened up and went back to pouring the two bowls of soup-like substance, hoping beyond all hope that the other forest creatures wouldn't smell it and come running. I handed one of the bowls to the furry meatloaf. I didn't bother giving him a spoon; partially due to the fact that I feared toppling the carefully balanced pile, and partially due to the fact that the Lorax wouldn't have used it anyway. He took the bowl from me and sniffed it tentatively. Deciding that it didn't smell poisoned, he took the smallest of sips. I could tell he wasn't sure about the taste, but I couldn't say that I was, either.
"You sure this isn't what's making you feel bad, Beanpole?" he asked.
I just rolled my eyes. All I'd been eating for the past week was pancakes because the forest animals liked them so much and somehow convinced me to make them for almost every meal. Not that I didn't like making them, or that I didn't like the taste of them, but I was silently thanking whoever cared to listen that they only ate one meal a day. They snacked on Truffula Fruits all other hours. I finished off my bowl of soup and set the dish aside. I took the half-finished bowl that the Lorax offered me and set it beside the other. He obviously hadn't liked it too much.
"Well," I said, a little more boisterously than I felt as I picked up the clothes I had gotten out, "why don't we go see how Pipsqueak's swimming lessons are going, shall we?" I opened the door for him, and the Lorax nodded and (thankfully) left my tent, but not before giving me yet another odd look. I once again passed it off and sluggishly pulled on my clothes.
I shielded my eyes as I stepped out. It was a beautiful day, but the sun seemed just a little bit brighter than usual, and the air just slightly thinner than I remembered from the day before. Of course, nothing had actually changed; it was just my body being far too over-sensitive. After letting my eyes adjust for a moment, I glanced around in search of something orange with a huge mustache. There he was. I almost tripped on a sunbathing Bar-ba-loot on my way towards the river – the Bar-ba-loot himself didn't even take notice of my fumbling feet as I quickly sidestepped to avoid him. When I had finally managed to get myself to the edge of the river, I sat down in the grass beside where the Lorax stood.
Pipsqueak was apparently having the time of his life splashing around in the river, now that he wasn't being carried away towards a waterfall. The Humming-Fish let go and he bobbed above the surface for a couple of seconds; waving his tiny arms and feet as fast as he could in hopes of staying afloat before he gradually started to sink. The Humming-Fish then snatched the tiny Bar-ba-loot by the arms before he could go under. Pipsqueak looked to me, a very big smile on his face. I gave him a big grin, and he seemed to consider that a very fitting reward for his efforts. He attempted swimming in my direction towards the bank, and the Humming-Fish released his arms to allow him to try it. A couple of seconds later and they were holding his arms again, guiding him towards the grass. I had to admit, it was adorable. I set my hand in the water and his tiny paws clung to my fingers as he wildly kicked his feet. I laughed and lifted him out, setting him down in the grass. He hobbled haphazardly on the spot for a minute, obviously not quite used to solid ground after swimming all morning. Clambering onto my lap, he stared at me with those huge eyes of his, smiling at his success. I offered him a marshmallow as a reward and he happily took it, gobbling it up in one bite. He gazed back at me expectantly when he finished, and I relented and gave him another. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the Lorax watching us with a pleased expression. Well, at least until I fell into another coughing fit. Pipsqueak dashed from my lap and sat beside me, looking up curiously and slightly frightened. The Lorax himself looked quite concerned. When the fit passed, I scratched Pipsqueak behind the ears and apologized, handing him another marshmallow. But the Lorax wasn't so easily appeased.
"Kid, there's something seriously wrong with ya," he said. I sighed.
"Are we going to go through this again?" I asked. "And don't you tell me that you don't know what coughing is, I'm sure you've heard it before."
"Yeah, okay, I'll drop it. For now," he said with a sideways glance. And he did drop the subject for the rest of the day. We went about our usual business, apart from my daily trek to town in a feeble attempt to sell my Thneed. Our 'usual business' consisted of a complete lack of structure in what we did. In other words, we basically goofed off the whole day; but by supper time, I was too tired to even bother eating. I simply changed into my (not bunny) pyjamas and fell fast asleep.
A/N: Please feel free to review, it's very much appreciated.