Irene squeezed her eyes shut blocking out the sunrays and pulled the blanket over her head.
“Wake up sleeping beauty. It is a beautiful day!”
M opened the windows letting in the sound of birds chirping and thousands of invisible pollen. Although she could not see them, she felt their presence immediately. She rubbed her tongue against the roof of her mouth. With closed eyes she groped for the packet of Kleenex she always kept on the nightstand. The itch spread to her nostril and she felt the pressure to sneeze growing within her. She was ready to give in to it.
M said loudly, “Achoo!”
“Why did you do that for? It is bad enough that you rip me out of a wonderful dream. Am I not even allowed the satisfaction of a sneeze?”
“Stop complaining and eat. We are going to make the best use of the first sunny day after winter.”
Without another word, Irene ate her toast with jam and drank her semi-hot cup of chocolate quickly. M was probably trying to make her agreeable by serving breakfast in bed. She dragged herself from the bed and into the bathroom.
“I assume you already have it all planned out. What are we doing?”
The hot shower caused the sore skin around her upper lips to burn; another reason why she hated spring. The following weeks she would be wearing a moustache of crusted skin, caused by the attrition of super soft paper handkerchiefs against her even softer facial skin.
“We are going to the mobile home fair. It is outdoors. What better way than to spend a day like this outside?”
“Afterwards I’d like to go to that newly opened frozen yoghurt place. I forgot the name. Michel was raving about how great it is the whole day yesterday at the office.”
“Fine with me! Now get changed quickly. The later we get there, the more difficult it would be to find a parking lot.”
“15 more minutes, if you let me get ready in peace.”
Irene washed down her allergy tablet with a big gulp of water. She packed her anti-allergic eye drops and nasal spray in her handbag. She was ready for the wild outdoors!
Irene stopped in midstride and pressed her upper thighs together. Another watery glob of pollens came charging out of her nostrils. But she was ready to capture it with a new paper handkerchief. She folded the tissue in half and held it before her nose like a hygiene mask, ready for the next sneeze. The tingly feeling in her nose was a dead giveaway that she wouldn’t have to wait long for the next one.
She scanned the crowd around her. Where was he? She had only paused for a few seconds. He couldn’t have gone far. That is the problem with visiting an outdoor mobile home fair. On the one hand, the constant pollen attack was weakening her physical state of being. On the other hand, she kept losing track of M in the blink of an eye it took her to sneeze. She remained standing in the middle of the path. He had to come out of one of these mobile homes sooner or later.
She felt drained of all energy. Too bad she was too old to lug a schnuffeltuch around. She would love to curl up on her sofa with a comforter and give in to the feeling of sickness that overwhelmed her. But she couldn’t hide indoors all spring or could she? She contemplated the repercussions of such a decision when someone tapped her on the shoulder.
“Would you like some apple juice?”
“No thank you. My panty wouldn’t remain dry for long when I have to walk around with a full bladder and sneeze unrelentingly. Let us get on with this show. A frozen yoghurt is waiting for me.”
They walked down the aisle hand in hand.