We are all sharing a bed while we’re in the forest, because one of us is not well. His body is stripped of all but a nappy, his fever is furious and hard to keep on top of. The drugs aren’t working like they usually do. He looks so much smaller, as if the illness has diminished his physical presence. In a foetal ball, perched atop a pillow, he occasionally jerks and shudders before resettling.
I wonder what goes through his head to make his body do that. Fearful, feverish dreams? He seems scared, and it hurts me to know that I can do nothing about it.
His sleep is snatched, sporadic, restless, and so is ours. It’s quiet here, the birds and animals are asleep, there are no roads nearby. A baby’s cry is far more piercing when it’s the only sound.
|A poorly boy taking a nap. Aww.|
We get up early and look outside at the trees, the water, the rocks and the morning light. I wonder aloud why people have chosen to live anywhere but here. I feel more at ease and at home here than I ever do in the tarmac coated sprawl of a city or town. I suppose there just aren’t many jobs in the forest.
|I'm not feeling well, can you tell?|
The arrival of morning signals the departure of the fever. The rash remains, to remind us we’re not done with the whining just yet, and woe betide should you run out of Calpol. Suitably dosed, we head out on the bikes, weaving between the other assorte
d short term forest dwellers, most of whom look like they haven’t seen a bike before, let alone ridden one. Crashes are narrowly avoided and the swimming pool is reached.
Cool water laps at our skin and rinses away memories of the unpleasant night time, replaced by chlorine’s gift: desiccated skin. But he loves it. He thinks he can swim, we do not. He wants no aid to buoyancy apart from one of us, so we scoot around the pool, pushing him ahead of us. He remains utterly calm while we change him back into dry land clothing and, though a part of me feels foolish, we believe that the worst of the illness, a reaction to the MMR vaccination, is over.
Bedtime proves my foolish part correct. The fever is back. At 3:30am I meander through the haze of sleep to give him Calpol. He sleeps next to us again.
In the morning I discover I’ve left the lid off the Calpol. An ant crawls near to the bottle. An urgent trip to the shop to buy more occurs. We swim again. He loves it again. I continue to love the forest, continue to love the time I am having with my family, continue to hope it will somehow not come to an end on Friday, when they let the cars back in and we have to leave.
|Forest at dusk. Pretty.|
Our first holiday as three hasn’t been the easiest four days, but I will always remember it and cherish it.