Glancing at the clock, the girl groaned inwardly and rolled onto her side. It was 3 am and the dull pain in her stomach was keeping her awake another night. It was a feeling she remembered too well: the introduction of a violent illness that had plagued her three months earlier and ruined her last days in Prague. She didn’t mind the aching nausea so much as the symptoms that had already visited her once today. She rolled over and glanced at the clock again. This time it read 03:04, causing another groan to escape into the room. This time it was as much one of inconvenience: in the morning she was supposed to catch a train to Frankfurt to make the flight home. Under ordinary circumstances, she would have felt exhilarated, and probably even enjoyed the nine hour trip north, but her rapidly approaching symptoms rendered this somewhat doubtable this time round.
Feeling her stomach knot, she slipped out of bed taking extra care not to rouse her sleeping friend. ‘She could handle it this time’ she told herself. ‘She didn’t need to worry Cleo like last time.’ It wasn’t that she didn’t want the fuss. In fact at the moment it was that maternal care she most craved. It was that she’d stress Cleo, who in turn would pick up the phone and stress her parents. She reached the bathroom with no problems, and leaning over, emptied the minimal contents of her stomach into the toilet bowl. She hadn’t dined that night, feeling too nauseous to keep anything down and for a short moment was unconsciously glad of that fact: this time it was only bile and essential minerals she was loosing, not the calzone and coffee she’d enjoyed at lunch. Standing up, she staggered to the sink to rinse out her mouth and freshen up. Looking in the mirror she watched motionless as the gaunt reflection before her slowly blurred and wavered before disappearing out the bottom of the mirror.
The crash of her limp frame against the door was enough that when she regained consciousness, Cleo knelt beside her, with the phone in one hand.