on reading ‘The Hunger Games’ whilst suffering from the stomach flu

Photo on 2-23-13 at 3.21 PM #3

You awaken suddenly to a familiar rumbling.  A discomfort which only progresses the more you attempt to ignore it or will it away.  After five minutes or so, you can no longer fool yourself.  “I have to throw up,” you think and force yourself to push the covers off and get to the bathroom so your boyfriend can be spared the wondrous sights, sounds, and smells which are about to accompany your existence.

“Katniss is waiting for me in there,” you encourage yourself, grabbing your copy of ‘Mockingjay’ and lurching through the darkened corridors.

Once there, you re-discover what misery is.  You beg and plead to a God you may or may not believe in to make it stop.  But the hours go by, relentlessly.  Soon, you find yourself curled up on a towel midway between the toilet and the furnace vent.  You curse the furnace every time you hear its final click and feel its sweet breath fade away, because there is no way you are leaving this bathroom floor.  So you lie there, miserably shivering, clutching your painful stomach that will not give way between bouts of illness to let you sleep.  And you read.

You always try to remind yourself how lucky you are when you get sick.  “Look at you, you spoiled person!  Sitting on your plush little towel with your heating vent and your running water.  What about the people in blazing hot Costa Rica?  Think of how the stomach flu feels in a tin shack two miles from the nearest stream?  Or what if you got the stomach flu in the Tower of London, what then, hmm?  Literally nothing to comfort you; nothing to draw out even a minuscule amount of the suffering and the smell and the wanting to die.  Quit your whining, you ungrateful first-worlder.”

So you rinse your mouth for the hundredth time and read about people who are perpetually in the state you are in now.  They are either fighting or killing or dying in terrible ways.  Burned and twisted and sick and in pain.

Somehow this comforts you.  Somehow it eases your mind.  “I am not alone,” you think.

Peeta and Johanna are tortured in the Capitol while Katniss recovers from the arena where she watched countless friends die.  Finnick is torn apart by a reptilian, whispering mutt.  “What is it that you are complaining about again?” you ask yourself almost smugly, as if dystopian fiction should somehow make your miseries lessen.

But, then again, somehow it does.

Photo on 2-23-13 at 3.21 PM #2

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