The Cough

Day 9 and the cough has become a terrorist. Rasping, lung aching cough, violently rocking the rib cage, reconstructing thought and memory, randomly re-ordering the day’s events. Robber of time, stealer of sleep. Ask me a question I’ll give you a Saint Vitus Dance answer, a voiceless croak or maybe a sign. I don’t know, please don’t talk to me now. A toilet roll trail of debris, the tissues and hankies now long gone, catches the phlegm of one lucky cough, but not of that dry one, not the Dostoevsky special, that searches and scratches and delves deep within then leaves for a minute, hands out a headache, and returns for another gut wrenching go. Stationary diversions blur together as writing, reading and foreign films join into one continuous heated dream as cruel cough moves in for the night, making sleep a permanent nightmare, vitality spilling from every pore and orifice, as dreams become more lurid, aberrant, repetitive. Each cough causes a Candy Crush spill, with long rows of colourful gems flashing in my sleeping mind’s eye, idiotic patterns, reminders of imminent madness, but now Riccardo Scamarcio arrives with his Botticelli stare and I am momentarily transfixed; it’s 1968 and the students are revolting, but then I see that other man’s ugly penis lying inert on a bed, a scene from a repulsive French movie where all the men are bastards. I skip to my book, and the tripe cauldron rises, the overflowing pot steaming with stomach lining and calves’ feet, and I’m trapped in medieval Florence, when suddenly Chris Uhlmann’s interloping fat head appears on the TV screen, intruder in a boring election debate, put him in the tripe vat, will someone say something real now? The cough returns, and the Candy Crush gems explode purple, shattering my dream, and it replays over and over again.

dreaming in patterns
dreaming in patterns

I write posts to keep the terrorist at bay, stories of domesticity, of cakes and travel. They are as fanciful as my dreams.

23 thoughts on “The Cough”

  1. Brilliant writing and interpretation of ‘that cough’. Perfectly describes the middle two weeks of my four weeks with that diabolical spleen rattling affliction. Don and I slept in separate rooms for two weeks so we didn’t keep each other awake on top of keeping ourselves awake. I really feel for you, and admire your ability to think, let alone write. I was nearly useless except for making soup!!💕

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    1. Mr T has the same cough, in fact he had it first and is now well into his third week. ‘ Spleen rattling affliction’ is a rather good description Ardys. It’s driving me demented at times, and the enforced leisure just builds up into these mad dreams. No one writes much about coughing I’m afraid but sometimes things just write themselves. I can see that you relate to it.

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      1. I felt, even spoke of thoughts, I was losing my mind over the coughing and lack of sleep. Sickest I have been since having pneumonia about 20 yrs ago. Sending healing thoughts or at least peaceful dreams 😉

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  2. Oh man, being the mother of a ‘night time asthmatic’ child, this description is spot on and dementedly beautiful. (Even though the cough is not mine, it sometimes feels like it is.) Hope it goes away for you both soon.

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    1. I feel tremendous respect for the that limitless love, care as well as anxiety, fear, and pure exhaustion that mothers ( and fathers) experience on night vigil with young asthmatic children. My granddaughter is also badly prone.
      As an adult, I get to write about the madness- little ones can’t, they just suffer.

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  3. Dear Lord, Francesca, that bad! Did our Dear Leaders pass before your fevered eyes, holding out their “trust me” hands and promising a pork barrel full of cough remedies – and not the same old tripe? I do hope you get much better soon .. But I did enjoy your writing and the imagery of the alternative to “off with his head” (which I think was also Caligula’s cough remedy) – “put him in the tripe vat”!!

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    1. Jan, I think you have entered my dream rather well, especially with Caligula’s cough remedy, adding a demented and decadent Italian note to my mad cough story,a s well as all your political referencing. Wonderful. Comments like this give me hope. I’m now on the mend.

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    1. Thanks Glenda, it was an odd subject to write about I know but this cough is such a beauty, picked up in an airport or plane mind you, that it needed a little rave.

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    1. LOL Mimi you crack me up. Nice to have a laugh in the morning.Some penises are ugly, others are quite beautiful, shafts of pure silk – depends I suppose, not that I have much chance to inspect many, but the one on that film, Mon Dieu it was ugly.
      I’m on the mend today, much better thankyou.

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  4. I love the imagery… never will Candy Crush or an annoying cough be experienced as they once were. I hope as the days -hopefully with some sunshine- pass you both continue improve and that you’ve done your bit with the lurgy for the winter. I’m hoping our relative isolation will give a leave pass at least until we hit the lesser likelihood of warmer climes

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    1. Warmer climes and keeping away from airports and flights are all helpful ways of avoiding bugs. I am sure this one came from our recent flight. The more you chat around, the more you find out what lurks in these environments.
      It’s sunny today, so still on the books, writing, movie watching mission. I am not good at slowing down.

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