Flu: Sequel o Fever
Author's note: I wrote this as an assignment for English class.
Chapter 1Chapter 1
It has been exactly one year since the yellow fever swept the country, killing off a big chunk of the Philadelphia population. I, Mattie Cook, am now 15 years old. I live in 1794 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and run Cook’s Coffeehouse, my family’s business, with our cook and close family friend, Eliza. Eliza is like a second mother to me. She’s kind and caring and a fabulous cook. Eliza, her brother, and her twin nephews, Robert and William, live with Mother and me. Mother was one of the unfortunate ones that were affected by the Fever, as were the twins and I. We all survived, thank goodness, but Grandfather and many others did not.
“Mattie! Oh, Mattie!” a voice called.
“Nathaniel,” I hissed. “Quiet down. Do you want to wake the whole household?”
“Why, Mattie! I’m hurt!” he pouted, then grinned. “How about some food to make up for it?” he asked and walked into the kitchen. I rolled my eyes.
“I swear Nathaniel, not a day goes by when you aren’t starving. I’m surprised you haven’t become the food yet,” I joked.
Nathaniel Benson was, actually is, my best friend. We’ve known each other since we were toddlers and we’ve been through a lot together. Mother and Eliza believe he intends to court me in a few years.
“Your mother thinks you two would make a fine couple and I believe you have a slight crush on him. Don’t think I don’t notice you staring,” Eliza always teased.
True, maybe I did like Nathaniel a little bit, but I never believed he liked me. It’s impossible, right? Suddenly, I felt someone pulling on my skirts. I looked down and saw Robert sitting on the hardwood floor with William crawling around beside him. I picked the boys up, balancing them on my hips.
“I take it you two are hungry, too?” I asked ambling into the kitchen.
I was greeted by the sight of Nathaniel stuffing his face with bread rolls.
“Nathaniel! Save some for the rest of us,” I scolded playfully.
“Trff fbenff ef myf flace,” he said.
“Swallow first, Nathaniel,” I laughed. He gulped down the roll before speaking again.
“I said, try being in my place. When you’re stuck in a house for twelve hours on end you eat as much as you can,” he responded, wiping the crumbs of his vest.
“Well you’re the one that wanted to be a painter,” I said, setting Robert and William in their high chairs.
I was about to get them some food when I felt a pair of strong arms wrap around my waist. Nathaniel swiftly picked me up and began spinning me around.
“Nathaniel! Put me down!” I shrieked trying to contain my laughter.
“Not until you apologize for teasing me,” he said.
“Alright! Alright, I’m sorry!” I said, still laughing.
He stopped turning and softly put me down. The room finally stopped spinning and I looked up to find Nathaniel staring at me. I noticed we were extremely close and his arms were still wrapped around my waist. We stared into each other’s eyes and moved closer until we were about an inch away from each other.
We jumped apart as the kitchen door swung open and Eliza walked in. I could feel my face rapidly heating up as Nathaniel and I tried to pretend that nothing had happened and that we hadn’t just almost kissed.
“We almost kissed,” I thought, smiling to myself, but I quickly dropped it when I noticed Eliza staring at me questioningly.
“Was I interrupting something?” she asked, a smile tugging at her lips.
“No,” replied Nathaniel as the blush started to fade from his cheeks. “I was just heading off to work.”
He grabbed an apple, gave me a hug, and strode out the door. Eliza peeked around the corner to make sure he was gone then practically ran over to me. She smiled at me, more like smirked, and said,
“Care to explain Miss Mattie?”
“Explain what?” I asked, feigning innocence.
“Don’t you give me that ‘Explain what?’ nonsense,” Eliza scolded. “Were you two about to kiss?”
“No,” I scoffed and felt myself blushing again. “Eliza, Nathaniel and I are just friends. We’ve known each other since we were kids.”
“Just friends my butt. Almost everyone in town knows that he’s looking to be your suitor,” Eliza responded.
“I don’t like him,” I insisted.
“Don’t like him my-”
“Eliza!” I yelped, my face turning as red as a fire engine.
She grinned at me evidently pleased with herself. Desperate to get past the awkward humiliation, I began grabbing pots and pans to make breakfast while attempting to change the subject.
“So have you heard what the ladies in market are talking about?” I asked.
“Of course not,” she grumbled as she started cooking eggs. “They’re all a bunch of filthy gossipers who should be buying necessities instead of talking a persons’ ear off.”
Ignoring her comment, I replied “They said that there’s a new disease roaming the country called the swine flu.”
“Well I don’t believe that garbage for one minute,” she answered. “Anyhow, if it is true, we’ll make it. We survived the yellow fever and we’ll survive this.”
“It’s supposed to be even more lethal than yellow fever,” I said, but it came out softer than I’d intended as I had suddenly begun to feel light-headed.
“It’s all rubbish. Those women are just looking to start something,” Eliza replied, her eyes still focused on the ingredients she was currently mixing.
I nodded weakly, clutching my head as my stomach lurched. I gripped the countertop and felt my knees buckle underneath me.
“They all talk like- Mattie? Mattie, child, are you alright? Mattie!”
I collapsed on the kitchen floor and heard feet rushing across the wood floor. The last thing I heard before I faded into darkness was Eliza screaming for Mother.