The Flu Diaries

By: Amy Vansant


Brother-in-law invites us over to watch football. Upon arriving, he admits the kids have been swapping the flu, but kept it a secret for fear my hypochondriac husband wouldn’t visit. What a scamp! My laughter drowns ominous foreshadowing music playing in the background.

I spend hours singing with niece, a.k.a. “Patient Zero.” Forty-thousand viruses swarming video game microphone sing backup in screechy virus voices, but go unheard thanks to my stirring rendition of “Life is a Highway.”


We drive home. Viruses begin digging trenches, preparing for the upcoming battle. My white blood cells play poker with platelets, nary a care in the world.


The viruses share battle plans through their hive-mind. “We are the Borg,” they say. “Existence as you know it is over.” My white blood cells shrug. They never watched Star Trek: The Next Generation. They assume someone is mumbling about 1978 professional men’s tennis and, inspired, trot off for a quick match.


Wake up with sore throat, which I blame on window left open all night. White blood cells think “open window” theory seems reasonable and return to throwing clay in pottery class. One of the white blood cells puts on “Unchained Melody” from the Ghost soundtrack and they all have a good laugh.


Head is threatening to explode with congestion. White blood cells scramble for their uniforms and weapons, only to find viruses have stolen and hidden them while white blood cells were skinny-dipping.

Viruses burst into uncontrollable giggles.


Spend day on sofa. Start watching old Bones episodes on Netflix. Realize after two episodes that every show is exactly the same. Proceed to watch seasons 2005-2009.

Viruses and white blood cells now engaged in full-scale war. White blood cells scream for antibiotic backup, only to be answered by theme from Bones.


Spend day on sofa. Barely have enough energy to cross nieces’ names off Christmas list.

Somewhere near lungs a white blood cell shows a picture of his family to a fellow soldier and is immediately mowed down by viruses.


Spend day on sofa. Dog has not been walked for a week and helpfully presses body against door in case I’ve forgotten how to find my way out of the house.

In classic evil despot style, viruses have engaged on too many fronts. White blood cells begin to turn the tables. Tiny bits of Italian and French DNA stop rooting for viruses and begin cheering on white blood cells.


Cough all night. Awake to find tired husband hovering over me with hands wrapped around my throat. Insists he was trying to apply Vick’s VapoRub.

White blood cells start looting virus strongholds for collectibles to impress their girlfriends.


Husband and dog have gone missing. Find rambling note that implies they’re fulfilling life-long dream of completing Australian “walkabout.” Find them sleeping in garage.

White blood cells return from battle to find unappreciative red blood cells have been high whole time they were gone and have stolen their girlfriends.


Coughing subsides. Nieces call about upcoming birthday party. Pretend they’ve accidentally called Chinese takeout and hang up.


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