Charlie’s Room: Homework

Isaac woke up feeling cold.   It was the kind of cold that made him curl up and shiver. “What’s wrong?” Marianne asked.

“It’s cold,” Isaac said. His throat was sore and it hurt to talk. He coughed. Ouch.

Marianne checked his forehead. “I think you have a fever. Let me get the thermometer.”

“Could you bring me another blanket?” Isaac asked.   He buried his head under the blankets.   That made it hard to breathe, but it was warmer.

Marianne brought several blankets and the thermometer.   “Yep, a fever. You’ll need to call in sick. I’ll go get some medicine.”

“My throat hurts too,” Isaac said.

“Oh dear,” Marianne said. “I have a lot of errands to run today. I’ll buy the ingredients for chicken soup while I’m out.”
“I’ll call work,” Isaac said. He called in sick and curled up under a heavy pile of blankets.

“Dad!” Charlie yelled. Isaac woke up out of a strange dream where telephones were taking over the world.

“Charlie?” Isaac struggled to wiggle back out of the pile of blankets and sit up. Wow, now he was feeling much too hot. Why did he have so many blankets?

“Dad, my homework is gone. I left it on my desk last night and now it’s gone,” Charlie said.

“You didn’t put it in your backpack?”

Charlie sighed. “I wasn’t sure on some of the answers.   I was going to ask you to check it, but I forgot. Now it’s gone.”

“I’ll write you a note,” Isaac said. He scribbled out a note that he hoped made sense.

“Can you look for it and bring it to me if you find it?” Charlie asked.

“We’ll see,” Isaac said. He handed Charlie the note and kicked off the blankets. He drank the cup of water that somehow appeared on the nightstand, and curled up again and fell asleep.

He woke up mostly feeling better. He felt all sweaty and icky and his throat hurt, but his head no longer felt like it was packed full of cotton balls. He got up and shuffled into the kitchen for another drink of water.

On the way back to his room, he passed Charlie’s room.   Hmmmm. Maybe the homework had just fallen behind the desk or something. He went in to check.

He paused. Charlie had a photo of his Grandfather Charlie on his desk.   Marianne must have given it to him.   Isaac picked up the picture of his father, looking much younger. He would have been sixty-seven today.

Isaac picked up the picture, feeling sad. His father had been a schoolteacher, and in the picture he was at his desk correcting papers. He was looking up and smiling at the camera. Isaac imagined his dad was smiling at him.

His dad winked. Isaac blinked and looked at the picture. His dad seemed to smile a little wider and lifted the paper he was holding, just a bit. Isaac squinted. Was that Charlie’s homework?

Isaac laughed. Ouch. His throat still hurt. “Thanks for looking out for Charlie,” he whispered. “I love you, dad. Just leave his homework on his desk when you’re done.”

He hugged the photo to his chest tightly and then put it back on Charlie’s desk. He waved and maybe his dad nodded back. He went back to bed and fell asleep.

He woke up to Charlie jumping onto to the end of the bed with a thump. “Thanks for finding and checking my homework, dad,” he said. “The teacher says I can turn it in tomorrow.”

“It wasn’t me. It was your Grandpa Charlie,” Isaac said.

“Oh, are you still feeling sick?” Charlie said.   “I’ll go get mom.”
“Tell her I want a photo of Grandpa Charlie for my desk too,” Isaac said.   Then he snuggled back under the blankets and tried to decide if he was ready to get up.