I didn’t recognize the handwriting but the message was clear.
CALL IN SICK TODAY
I stared at the post-it on the mirror as the toothbrush hung limply out of the corner of my mouth. I was fairly certain my dog hadn’t written it, but I looked in his eyes anyway. “This you?” I gestured towards the note.
Beck cocked his head to the side as if to show how confused he was by it too. “Yeah, I know, right?”
I tore it down and crumpled it up in one hand as I finished brushing my teeth. It was obviously a joke, but I wasn’t exactly sure what the punchline was. I finished up and rinsed my mouth out with a handful of water. When I stood up, I saw it. A new note. It was right where the last one had been, and scrawled in the same all-caps thick lettering.
REALLY. DON’T GO TO WORK
Now, this freaked me out a bit. I made some kind of strange yelping noise as I jumped backwards. Beck similarly yelped and quickly scurried out of the way. I looked around the bathroom, suddenly, but justifiably, paranoid that I wasn’t alone. No one was here, and nothing was out of place. I peered around the doorframe into the hallway. Just as empty. I looked back at the note, then down at the first one still crumpled in my palm. Well, this is it, I thought. *I’m finally totally losing my mind. *
I confronted the new note, staring it down as though I might intimidate it into nonexistence. It stared back brazenly. I pulled it off the mirror, only to find another under it.
I tore that one down just as forcefully, but yet another waited beneath. Then another. And another.
PLEASE, I’M BEGGING YOU
STAY HOME TODAY
JUST THIS ONCE
I collapsed on the floor. Crumpled post-its were strewn around me. The room was spinning and I felt an elephant sitting on my chest. No matter how much I inhaled, I couldn’t find my breath. Beck trotted over and nuzzled up against me, helping me try to keep my grip on reality. It didn’t work particularly well once he looked me in the eye and said, “are you even awake?”
I shot straight up, quickly. It took more than a few seconds to realize that I was sitting in my bed and I was sweating and panting like I’d just finished a sprint. Beck stared at me from the foot of the bed where he was laying. He seemed more confused than I was.
“Don’t go to work, please! Just stay home!” I turned to my left to see my daughter kneeling on the bed next to me. “Please! Stay here with me today, just this once!”
“You know what, I think that’s a pretty good idea.”