Playing Sick

My sister's bakery in New York city had only been open one month before a call came in from someone claiming to be Madonna's assistant. It was about twenty minutes before closing, and I was working by myself.

"Madonna has heard about your little bakery," the breathy rushed man said in a rush as if I were the one who had called him on his way out the door. "And she wants to try out your desserts for an upcoming event. I'm going to need you to send over one thousand bite-size treats for her to try tomorrow. And do you do gold leaf designs? We're going to need those, too."

The "assistant" then went on for another fifteen minutes telling me about how big, talented, and particular Madonna was. I barely spoke. I watched the clock tick ever closer to closing. I knew the other person on the line wasn't Madonna's assistant; I was 99.9% certain it was my brother in California prank calling at 8:00 pm his time, unconcerned that it was 11:00 pm for me. The one time during the call that I alluded to the fact that I was speaking to Bill, the caller became irate. I doubted my instinct by default. I stayed on the line, taking the elaborate, time-consuming order on the .1% chance that I was speaking to Madonna's assistant. How would my sister every forgive me if I told someone so essential to fuck off before I hung up on them because I needed to mop the floor?

As I knew it would, the call ended hastily as soon as I asked for a credit card to secure the order. My brother had taken the prank to the furthest possible conclusion, and I was 30 minutes behind on all my closing duties because I didn't go with my gut.

Darla pulled her version of "Madonna's assistant" this morning. When I woke up, she was curled up on the couch and looked in pain.

"My stomach hurts," she said, giving me puppy dog eyes. "I think I'm going to throw up."

"Do you think you just don't want to do your class presentation today," I replied.

"No, no, I'm really sick," she croaked out. To emphasize her point, she gagged a little.

"You're going to school because you're not sick," I said as I left the room. I was confident I was right. I knew that if Darla were sick, she'd be screaming "help me" at the top of her lungs, which is what she has done every time she's thrown up.

As it got closer to the time we were supposed to leave, Darla continued to lay on the couch curled up in a ball. I decided to throw her a curveball.

"If you could eat any donut right now, what would it be?" I asked.

"No donut," she said with a gag. "Donuts sound terrible.

Despite feeling 99.9% sure that Darla wasn't sick, I fed the .1% doubt. The thought of Darla throwing up while giving her presentation clouded my vision. I caved and let her stay home from school. As with the prank call with my brother and the credit card number, I had one final trick to call her bluff.

"If you want to stay home, there will be no screentime, " I said as I helped her back into her pajamas. "You'll need to stay in bed all day. And since you feel like you're going to throw up, you can only have one piece of dry toast all day."

And stay in bed she did, but it only lasted for an hour before she got bored and wandered out of her room. After I spent fifteen minutes convincing her, she admitted that she only didn't want to go to school because she didn't want to give her presentation. (I believe she had also calculated that the time for the presentations had already passed).

I congratulated her on her honesty and told her she had to go to school. She got dressed, and I walked her to school. I didn't bother mentioning that I was 99.9% certain her teacher would make her do her presentation as soon as she got to school.