was feeling sick. Isaac kept waking up to hear her coughing in the
middle of the night. By morning, he felt like he hadn’t slept much
at all. His throat was sore and he felt sort of floaty.
was pretty sure he was sick too.
tucking the covers back around Marianne, Isaac put on his slippers
and trudged down the hall. He could hear Charlie coughing. Isaac
sighed. It was going to be a long day.
called in sick and then called the attendance line for the school.
Then he started cooking some oatmeal. He finished cooking breakfast
as Marianne stumbled into the kitchen, looking half awake.
“Sick day today,” he said. “I called in to excuse Charlie and me. You probably should call in sick too.”
afternoon meeting is just a phone call,” Marianne mumbled. “I
can do that.”
Isaac turned off the stove and dished up some oatmeal. “Orange
made a face. “Sounds terrible. My throat hurts. It would be like
lemon juice in a paper cut. Throwing up orange juice would be awful,
point.” Isaac put the pitcher back in the fridge. “Would cocoa
shrugged. “I think so.”
woke up late and Isaac reheated everything while Charlie sat at the
kitchen table with his head buried in his arms. “I don’t feel
good.” Charlie’s voice was muffled. “I don’t want to go to
a sick day today,” Marianne answered. “We’re all staying home.”
what if I still feel sick tomorrow?” Charlie asked.
tomorrow is Saturday. You wouldn’t go to school anyway.”
decided to stay in pajamas and watch movies. Marianne and Charlie
went to set up nests of blankets and pillows in the living room.
Isaac promised he’d join them shortly.
leaving the dishes to soak, Isaac pulled out his family recipe book.
It was the one his grandmother had put together for him when he was
finally old enough to hold a knife steady and chop vegetables. It
was a huge book, and all of the recipes were handwritten.
had everything from the family cocoa recipe to great-great-aunt
Betty’s wood polish. Today, he flipped through the pages and stopped
at the elderberry cough syrup recipe. It didn’t cure colds
instantly, but it did seem to keep them from lasting longer.
dug through the cupboards and fridge to pull out the dried
elderberries and honey and cinnamon bark and cloves and ginger. As
he chopped and boiled, he started to relax. Just the fumes were
helping him to feel better.
added a good spoonful of the syrup to mugs of peppermint tea. While
they cooled a little, he popped some popcorn. It took a couple of
trips, but soon he was snuggled into his own little nest watching
night, Isaac woke himself up coughing, but Marianne seemed to be
sleeping better. When he got up in the morning, he could smell
pancakes. He stumbled into the kitchen, yawning. Charlie was
already there waiting. “I think I feel better than yesterday,”
Charlie said. And then he coughed a few times. They all laughed.
sick day became a sick weekend. They stayed in pajamas and watched
movies and drank peppermint tea with elderberry syrup. By Sunday
evening, Marianne and Charlie were feeling better. Isaac was pretty
sure he was well enough to go to work in the morning.
this cough syrup is a secret family recipe.” Marianne held up the
nearly empty jar of syrup.
don’t know that the family recipes are secret. We just never seem to
be able to share them. Something always happens, and we get
distracted. I think it’s a charm on the book.”
put the jar down. She looked puzzled. “What book?”
family recipe book my grandmother made. The one with all the
handwritten recipes.” It was right there on the counter.
don’t think I’ve seen that one. You’ll have to show me later.”
Marianne looked out the window.
nearly pointed out that the book was right there. But, as he opened
his mouth, Marianne was already marching to the back door.
“Charlie,” she yelled over her shoulder. “Get the spray
bottle. There are cats digging in the garden again!”
She ran out the door, and Isaac picked up the recipe book and took it back to his desk. He shut the drawer with a sigh. He knew that Marianne wouldn’t ask about it later. He wasn’t even sure she could see it.
Charlie could? Maybe they could try a recipe from the book sometime.
Charlie was certainly old enough to chop vegetables.
came running through the kitchen with the spray bottle of water and
hurried out the back door to join Marianne. Isaac watched them
through the window as they chased the cats away from the rhubarb bed.
They certainly seemed to feel all better. The sick days were at an