We Do What We Can

Part 13

By: Girl Bard

For disclaimers, please see part one.

An additional note:I profusely apologize for the extended time between posts. My girlfriend and I were visiting my family in Ohio and things were, well, damn awful to say the least. We've now just returned. I appreciate your patience and again apologize for the delay.

    August 5, 2000

    My chest is itchy. Frowning in my half-asleep state I remove my hand from Grace's soft breast and scratch the living hell out of my chest and neck. Sated, I return my hand to its former resting place and snuggle back down into the bed. I swallow sleepily and fight a yawn, eager to get a few more hours of sleep before showing Grace around Boston today.
    Perfectly content, I begin the gentle journey back into sleep. I'm laying pressed against Grace's back and the cool sheets of the bed settle over me comfortably. It's just wonderful.
    Except for the itching. Moving away from Grace I reluctantly open my eyes and squint at my chest in the dim light. Wow, some mosquito must have been in here last night and bit me to death. My chest and stomach are covered with big red welts.
    Yawning again I climb out of bed, leaving Grace's softly snoring form behind. I walk to the bathroom and wince at the bright fluorescent light, closing the door behind me as to not wake up Grace. Once my eyes can adjust I open them fully and take a look at myself.
    Shit. I really think I have chicken pox. I touch one of the welts, finding it to be hard and irritated. It looks just like what was all over Kasey's body. I should have listened to Grace and stayed far away.
    What do I do now? If I wake up Grace and tell her, she'll make us go home and baby me for a few days. I don't want to ruin our weekend together, that's for sure. I guess I thought I was immune to them or something; I mean, I never got them as a kid so why should I get them now? Grrr. This sucks.
    I can call Diana and ask her what she did for Kasey. It's early for a call on a Saturday morning, but I'm sure that if they aren't already awake that Kasey will be waking them soon. When Kasey was a baby Diana always kidded that she gave birth to a vampire because Kasey would rather stay up all night than sleep. We all thought she would outgrow it but hasn't yet.
    Flipping off the bathroom light I sneak back into the room, smiling at Grace's rather pissed-off expression. She is curled on my side of the bed, my pillow firmly pulled against her stomach. She doesn't like it when I get up before her, but if I stayed in bed as long as she does I'd go insane. I don't know how she can sleep so much.
    I quickly dial Diana's number on my cell phone and head back into the bathroom so Grace won't overhear my conversation. I'll tell her about my chicken pox once we're back home, and hopefully by then they will be gone. They can't last that long, can they? A few days, tops, I'm sure.
    "Hello?" Joe's alert voice answers.
    "Hey, it's Jaden." I greet him. "I'm glad you're up, I didn't want to wake you or Di."
    Joe chuckles. "Yeah right. It's my turn to get up with Kasey. She woke me up at 4:00 am because she wanted to go swimming. I've just now been able to convince her to wait until the sun comes up and then I'll spray her with the hose and turn on the sprinkler."
    "Ouch, sorry pal." I answer, knowing that he loves his daughter and probably wasn't thrilled about getting up a few hours ago, he would do anything for her. "How's she feeling?" I question.
    "Fine. It hasn't slowed her down one bit." He yawns. "Diana isn't awake yet, you want me to tell her you called?"
    "No, actually, I just need some information and hopefully you can help." I respond feeling just a little foolish.
    "Sure, what's up?" Joe asks, and I hear banging in the background. "Hey, hang on Jaden." He adds quickly before I can answer. "Kasey, now is not the time to be playing with the pots and pans. Mommy is still sleeping. Pick out a book and I'll read to you, okay?"
    The clanging stops and I hear her giggle. "Jesus Christ, do you guys feed her nothing but sugar?" I ask jokingly. Joe knows how much I adore his daughter.
    He snorts. "No, I don't know why she's so hyper. Sometimes I feel as if we're raising an entire brood instead of just one child. And can you believe Diana's hinting that she wants to have another baby?"
    "Go for it." I tell him. "While you're both still young enough to have two of them running around at dawn. Kasey's in kindergarten this year anyway, right? That would be great timing."
    "Hell Jaden, I'd love another kid. And I was planning on finding something part time while Kasey was in school anyway. I could work full time so Diana could stay at home with the baby."
    "You should. You're great parents and you know that Grace and I will always baby-sit." I add convincingly.
    "We'll see." Joe finishes, but I know what the outcome will be. What Diana wants, she gets. "Anyway, what do you need?"
    "Let's say, hypothetically of course, that I thought I might have chicken pox. How do I get rid of them?" I ask, feeling like an idiot.
    Joe's laughter comes over my phone so loudly that I have to pull it away from my ear. Sighing, I sit down on the edge of the counter and wait for him to stop, scratching away at my chest mindlessly.


    Holding Jaden's hand is always fun. Her palm is the same size as mine, but her fingers are way longer. Usually when I hold her hand I give it little squeezes, delighting in the feel of her muscles curling around my fingers.
    But today, holding Jaden's hand feels weird. It's usually cool to the touch, but today it's clammy and feverish. I keep asking her if she feels okay and she keeps responding with this weird look while she assures me that she's never felt better and she's having a wonderful time.
    She let me sleep in this morning and I awoke around 9:00 to already find her dressed for the day. She explained that she got up early and went to the drugstore in the hotel to get a few things she forgot and was then too awake to come back to bed.
    I got ready quickly and we were off for the day. We rode the T over to the museum and it was then, walking in, when Jaden took my hand in hers that I immediately felt the difference.
I keep noticing her pulling at her shirt like it's irritating her and can't help but see the flushed color of her normally bronzed skin.
    She won't admit a thing. We've been to the Museum of Fine Arts this morning already and it was amazing. So big and filled with so many different kinds of art. My favorite section was the Impressionist section and seeing all the old furniture in the architecture area. Jaden liked the photography floor.
    I thought that Jaden maybe was just warm from standing in the museum. It was really hot in there, even I was warm and I'm always cold. But then when we came outside into the beautifully cool day and Jaden still looked uncomfortable I began to get suspicious.
    She insisted that we make our way over to the Museum of Science. We immediately made way to the T station and all I could do was shrug and follow her. The Museum was so much fun, they had really cool exhibits and I felt like a child in a candy store. I was fascinated by everything there and I pulled out my camera and snapped a few really cool pictures of Jaden standing next to the big dinosaur skeleton as well as a cute one of her looking through a telescope.
    We stopped for lunch at the overpriced Museum café and decided that we would walk to the Aquarium because it's such a short distance. Again I questioned Jaden about her health and she practically bit my head off when saying she is fine.
    I know something is up, I just know it. She seems to be having fun though, so I guess she'll tell me when she's good and ready.
    "We're here." Jaden's low voice breaks me from my thoughts. I look up, seeing Boston's wharf in front of me and a cool-looking modern building jutting out from the concrete.
    "Are those seals?" I question, pointing at the large gray objects splashing in front of the building.
    "Yep." Jaden responds, smiling. "They have resident harbor seals here. I think they are cute."
    "Wow!" I tell her as I start to speed up. I love marine life and living in Ohio I haven't gotten to see much of it besides Sea World. Jaden walks faster to keep up with me and in no time we have paid our admission and are now cooing at the seals with the rest of the crowd. It's pretty busy here, but for a Saturday afternoon I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
    The seals pop their expressive faces out of the water, their huge liquid brown eyes fixing on mine. "They look like Bean." I say, giggling at their white whiskers and big black noses.
    Jaden studies their faces before laughing. "They really do. That's so weird!" We watch them swim and play for a few minutes more before Jaden urges me inside. "I think you're really going to like it. I came last year with Diana and Kasey and it was fun."
    The inside of the Aquarium is beautiful, the walls curve and ripple like waves and everything is colored in a different shade of blue. We make our way through the lobby and head into the main floor.
    I could stay in here all day. I'm first assaulted with the smell, the overbearing saltiness of the water as well as something else I don't recognize. Jaden sees the expression on my face and laughs. "That's the penguins, come on, I'll show you."
    Penguins? I love penguins; they and the sea otters are my favorite part of Sea World.
    The Penguin exhibit is actually one of the main parts of the Aquarium. From the first floor you look down on the huge area filled with jutting rocks and water and lots of penguins of all shapes and sizes.
    "They are adorable!" I tell her as I try to look at all of them at once. A few wet suited employees are gently feeding them fish by hand and it's really cool to see the different personalities of the penguins, some are shy and others are demanding the fish.
One small penguin, which Jaden identifies as a Blue Penguin, is undaunted in his attempts to get more food. He climbs onto the feeder's lap and sticks his head in the fish bucket, and when the feeder gently moves him back onto the rock the penguin immediately climbs back on his lap. Smiling, the young Asian man again removes the penguin, making a note on his waterproof chart.
    "What are they doing?" I ask Jaden who is smiling at the encounter.
    "They have to keep a record of their appetite. Because the penguins are still wild animals, if their appetite changes it's one of the ways we can detect if they are ill. So they keep really good records here. They also foster and rehabilitate many sick or injured sea life before re-releasing them into the wild." She adds.
    "Wow, this is a really nice place. I'm glad we came here." I tell her, turning my eyes back to the hungry penguin.
    "Me too." Jaden responds, placing her hand on top of mine. It's still flushed and clammy despite the chilly air of the penguin habitat. I start to ask her if she's feeling all right and instead bite my tongue, knowing that Jaden is a big girl who can take care of herself.


    I'm tired. As much as I hate to admit that, I really am. Besides the fact that I've been up since six and we've walked all over today visiting the museums, I really am starting to feel worse.
    Joe assured me that chicken pox was no laughing matter. He said I would be feverish and itchy as all sin for about a week or so. I think he's crazy; maybe Kasey had it that bad because she's a kid, but I'm sure I won't get that horrible of an outbreak. I took his advice and got some nice calamine lotion at the drugstore as well as some anti-inflammatory medicine. It's about as far as I will go when taking medicine, I don't really even like to take aspirin, but I want to make sure that Grace and I have fun this weekend.
    But I'm still tired. I kind of just want to sit down for a while. Grace and I have gone through the entire Aquarium and are waiting for the Sea Lion show to start. That way I can sit down and rest before we leave to get dinner. Then we have to go back to the hotel and I am going to try to get theater tickets for a show. We'll shower and change and head back out again. Grace mentioned she might want to stop back at the bar after the show for a nightcap. I would love to do that too, but the entire thought of doing anything but crashing into bed is making me more tired.
    I'm pathetic. A grown woman, a policewoman nonetheless, is going to be defeated by a measly little germ? No way. If Kasey can find the energy to wake her father up at 4:00 am to go swimming, I think I can deal with going to a show and out drinking after.
    It has been a nice day though, exactly what I wanted for Grace. I knew she'd love the Museums of Fine Arts and Science, but really be excited about the Aquarium. And she was. We must have sat there and watched the penguin feeding for an hour before moving on to the giant tank that goes straight up through the center of the building for several floors. As expected, we watched the interaction of fish including founder and barracuda with the sharks and a few giant turtles. She loved that.
    We went to the tide pool exhibit where you can hold real starfish and touch living sea anemones and watched the sea otters outside forever.
    My watch tells me its 4:30 and time for the Sea Lion show. "Are you ready?" I ask Grace who drags her attention away from the tank of eels.
    "Yeah." She answers, wrinking her nose in her own adorable way. "These things creep me out."
    "Me too." I tell her as we make our way outside. I realize my mistake the second I remember where the Sea Lion show is. "Um, I forgot to mention, the show is on a boat. Is that okay?"
    Grace bites her bottom lip. "Sure, it should be fine. I mean, we're not leaving the dock, right?" Her expressive eyes are the color of a troubled ocean, a dark green with swirls of light blue.
    "No, we just sit below deck in a kind of auditorium for a little bit." I respond, trying to reassure her that everything will be fine.
    "Okay. Let's try it." She responds and I smile at her bravery.
    I can tell she's nervous as we walk up the gangplank and onto the boat. It's an old vessel that has been completely converted below deck to accommodate a hundred people to watch the Sea Lions. We sit on the aisle way close to the front and try to make ourselves comfortable on the steel benches. There aren't a whole lot of people here, this is the last show of the day before the Aquarium closes and most everyone is inside. I wrap my arm around Grace's waist and pull her close to me, hoping she doesn't feel how hot my skin is.
    Hell, who am I trying to kid? Grace isn't stupid and I know she is on to me. She's been peppering me with questions about how I'm feeling all afternoon and I can't lie to her at all.
    "You okay?" I ask her and she nods. "It's pretty stuffy in here." I admit, surprised that I'm finding the inside so claustrophobic. I haven't had many flashbacks of the shipwreck and I didn't think it affected my ability to enjoy being on a boat. But sitting here in the closed-off auditorium with the floor rocking under my heels is making me a little nervous.
    Especially when combined with the fact that I'm already burning up and overheated and it's really heavy and humid in here. I concentrate on breathing deeply and trying not to itch in front of Grace. She'll never let me live it down when she finds out about my pox. I tap my foot impatiently on the floor as we wait for the show to begin.
    "Are you okay?" Grace whispers as to not draw attention to us. "What are you nervous about?" She questions and I don't really know how to answer.
    "It's just hot in here." I tell her and she studies my face.
    "Yeah, it is. Let's get out of here." Gracie responds and I nod eagerly. Feeling foolish I grab her hand and we race off of the boat.
    "Huh." I remark and she looks at me in question. I shrug in response. "That was weird."
    "It's okay. I didn't like sitting in there either." She remarks and I smile at her gratefully.
    I guess this is what it's like to be in love. I never really thought about it, to tell you the truth, because I never expected to let anyone get close enough to me to love me. But from the minute I saw Grace I knew that something had changed. Despite how afraid I was and how terrified it has and continues to make me feel scared that she will leave me, I wouldn't change anything about it. I like that Gracie knows me almost better than I know myself. And I know that she loves me as much as I love her. It's pretty cool.
    "What do you feel like doing?" I ask her, thinking how wonderful a cool shower followed by a nice nap would feel.
    "Well, didn't you want to go to dinner and maybe a show?" She responds and I nod in agreement. "If you don't mind, I think I would rather just go back to the hotel and stay in tonight. It's been a long day and my shoulder is sore." Grace adds.
    "Really? Why didn't you tell me? I would have carried your bag." I answer, feeling guilty that she has carried around her own backpack all day.
    She shrugs. "It's good for me to use it normally now. And I haven't been in pain; I'm just a little tired. Come on, let's go rest. We have all day tomorrow to wander around." Grace finishes, and I smile.
    Not that she would ever lie to me, but I think she's feeling fine. Her entire posture changes when she's hurting from her injury, and despite the fact that we've been on our feet for eight hours, she's still walking tall. She must know I'm not feeling well. Touched by her concern and her ability to put others before herself I pull her back to me and kiss her fondly.
    She laughs after we break apart, looking around on the street self-consciously. No one seems to notice or care but she blushes anyway. "What was that for?"
    I shrug, brushing back a few stray locks of her red-gold hair. "I love you."
    "I love you too." She responds, smiling brightly. "Come on, let's put you to bed." She adds as we make our way to the T station.
    "I like the sound of that." I tell her and we giggle the rest of the way to the hotel.


    The cool air of the hotel room greets us as Jaden wearily kicks off her shoes. I yawn and stretch as I set down my bag, feeling the slight pain in my shoulder fade with the simple stretching exercises.
    "I'm going to the bathroom." Jaden tells me and I nod, taking off my own shoes. She shuts the door just when I realize that my lotion is on the counter. My sky feels dry from our walk along the wharf and I desperately want my lotion.
    "Jaden, let me in for a second." I tell her, opening the bathroom door.
    I find my girlfriend shirtless, covered in red welts and frantically scratching like there's no tomorrow.
    A gasp of surprise leaves my throat and she looks up at me, her eyes wide in surprise to see me and her face takes on an expression that is a mixture of despair and embarrassment.
    "You have chicken pox!" I state unnecessarily.
    Jaden solemnly nods.
    "I told you not to get near Kasey! Why didn't you tell me? How long have you had these?" I ask, my hands on my hips as I badger her with questions.
    She looks trapped, glancing around the room warily. She opens her mouth to answer as she shrugs her shoulders.
    "I'm sorry?" She responds meekly.
    I put my head in my hands and groan.

    Part 14:Coming soon! Please let me know what you think!

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