I woke up to the phone ringing. I didn't remember when, but somewhere during the night, I'd fallen asleep on the couch. I reached for it without getting up, and thickly mumbled hello.

"Nick?"

"Uh..?"

"Nick, where are you?"

"At home."

"I know that, but, why aren't you at work?"

"Oh," I mumbled, then realized who it was. "Oh! Hello, Rachel. What time is it?"

I started to sit up, and saw that I was still wearing the same clothes I had on yesterday. My shirt was still partly unbuttoned and untucked from when I'd started to take it off, my belt was missing, and my tie was thrown over the back of the chair closest to the front door, where I'd left it.

"It's almost eleven-thirty," she replied. "Are you all right? You sound terrible."

"I'm fine, just. Not feeling very well."

"Are you sick?"

"Yes, I was sick."

She paused, then asked quietly, "Have you been drinking?"

"No."

"Maybe you should go see a doctor?"

"Death in the family," I muttered.

"What? I can't hear you."

"Death in the family."

"Oh, Christ, Nick... I'm so sorry." Rachel fished for something to say. I'd worked with her for a long time, but we had never discussed anything personal, we were long-time acquaintances, at best. "Will you be all right? I mean, do you want to talk about it after work, or something?"

"Thank you, but I really would like to be alone for now."

"Okay, well, if you need anything, just call. I'll give you my home number." She gave it to me, and I wrote it down. "I'll tell the boss that you'll be taking the rest of the week off. Is that okay?"

"Monday, too."

"Sure."

"And Tuesday," I added.

"Okay."

"And Wed - no, never mind. I'll just. I'll just call on Monday and decide what I'm going to do from there."

"All right, Nick," Rachel paused. "You take care of yourself, okay?"

"I will."

"And give me a call if you need anything, don't forget."

"I will."

"I mean it, any time, don't worry about waking me up if you need to."

"Thank you." I said sincerely, and hung up.


continue...