It's flu season and I will sue you if you come near me

On the one hand, we get to wear sweaters, proper shoes, and look generally better than when we’re sweaty and disgusting over the summer. And on the other, we are all vessels for the plague.
(Illustration by Luba Magnus)

Autumn is here, which means that for the next couple of weeks I get to begin almost every sentence with that affirmation. On the one hand, we get to wear sweaters, proper shoes, and look generally better than when we're sweaty and disgusting over the summer. And on the other, we are all vessels for the plague.

I say this as someone who is currently battling it. The cough I will have until February has descended upon me, and every sentence out of my mouth is peppered with sounds normally reserved for someone succumbing to tuberculosis. Sometimes I have a voice, sometimes I don't, and if I don't get exactly the amount of sleep I need, I will want to walk slowly into the ocean and die.

So begins flu season. But while I am welcome to do what I want and go where I want and hang out with whomever I want, you — if you are sick, coughing, or sick and coughing — are not.

Get away from me, you ill person. Go home and get better, or revel in the inevitably of your death. Either or. Just do not touch me.

Because here's the thing: you are not a hero by coming into work with the flu. You are spreading your germs, you are touching my things, you are infecting me with that "stomach bug" you somehow don't mind dealing with (you freak), even though it will debilitate me for at least three days. You are ruining the bathroom with your sick-person hands, and you are ruining any common area by breathing in my general vicinity. Take a pack of Imodium and get out of my face. We, my former friend, are enemies now. I hate you.

I hate you even though when I exhibit the same behaviours, I believe myself to be a hero and a martyr. My signature scent can be Halls, my voice can sound like I've been scream-singing One Direction in my car for 35 consecutive hours, my laboured breathing can sound like I'm seconds from breaking out into I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables. You, on the other hand, may do none of the above, you germ-ridden monster. You are a reminder of our impending mortality, of our certain death, of the fact that when I inevitably get infected with whatever fever you give me, it will hurt to lie completely still in front of BBC documentaries about castles because that's what fevers do.

Get away from me. Do not touch anything. Do not say hello, do not shake my hand, do not touch doorknobs or handles, do not type anything to me on the internet. Do not go to coffee shops, do not go to the mall, do not go to any drug or grocery stores I might be at, and should our paths cross, do not look at me, lest your germs choose to jump onto my general person.

Do not cough into your hand, do not cough into the air. Do not sneeze, in any way, in any capacity, unless it is a sneeze that resembles that of a cute and/or tiny mouse. If your nose is running, bring tissues, and then use those tissues to build a fort that you will reside in until you are better. Should your stomach be "acting up", go back home, apologize for even considering leaving the house, and then bury yourself in sand, for I fear you in every conceivable way. You are gross and the reason Norwalk outbreaks exist. And even if that's not what you have, I will assume that it is, and tell every person you know that you sought to infect the populace of planet earth.

You are diseased. You are ill. You are the reason I have this cough.

Now: I am going to pretend I don't have a cough because I make the rules and choose not to follow them. When I get sick, I am the only person on earth who has ever been sick and therefore am the bravest, strongest, greatest, most selfless human alive. So yes, I am still going to go out, thanks.

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About the Author

Anne T. Donahue

Anne T. Donahue is a writer and person from Cambridge, Ontario who likes to type in all caps.