! Sozont #21: Visiting the Sick

21.  Visiting the Sick

Sozont could hear Marth's voice coming through the door.
     —M: "Who is it?"
     —R: "Sozont has come to see you."
     —M: "What???"  Sounds of apartment-tidying.
     —S: "I've brought a present."
     —R: "Well, come in then."
     Marth was wearing a bathrobe.
     —M: "Why didn't you call first?"
     —S: "I didn't want to spoil the surprise."
     —M: "The place is a mess."
     Sozont looked around.  The apartment was cleaner that most bachelor pads.  "What mess?" he asked innocently.
     —R: "Heh.  At least this year's specimen is a gentleman."
     —M: "So what did you bring me?"
     —S: "I'll show you.  Um, it needs to be cooked."
     —M: "Let's go to the kitchen, then."
     Sozont unwrapped the gift on the kitchen counter.  Some of the decorations had gone askew, so he tidied them up.
     Marth looked at Sozont's handiwork for a minute.
     —M: "It's a tray of voles!"
     Sozont beamed.  "Yeah."  But then suddenly he was crestfallen.  "Damn!  I forgot all about the small and cut fruits!"
     —R: "It's a WHAT???"
     —S: "It's just chicken."
     Marth was smiling.  "See?  The scallions are tails.  The red circles are the eyes.  Noodles for whiskers.  What are those noses made of?"
     —S: "Pimentos.  And there's four pieces of Kiev.  One for each of us, plus a spare."
     —R: "No thanks.  I don't eat mice."  Red Bunny went into a bedroom and closed the door behind her.

     Marth put the tray in the oven and sat at the table, so Sozont sat across from her.
     —"So, to what do I owe this visit?"
     —"Your, um, last broadcast message to friends sounded like you wanted company."
     —"It did, didn't it?  I can't imagine what I must have been thinking.  Oh, yes, now I remember.  I was thinking that people would CALL FIRST!"
     —"I *thought* you'd be resting in bed, so if I called then you'd feel obligated to go racing around tidying the place up and give yourself a relapse."  Wait, this couldn't be the right time for an argument.  It never happened like that in the movies.
     —"So how did you figure out where I live?"
     —"You dropped hints.  I listened."
     —"I don't remember hinting about my address."
     —"You've talked about what's nearby, how long it takes to get to certain places, a few tidbits about your building.  Enough to triangulate your location."
     Marth stared at Sozont for a moment, then spoke in a small voice: "It sounds like you put a lot of effort into it."  She got up to take the tray out of the oven.
     —"Nah, just paying attention."
     Marth transferred two pieces of chicken to plates.  She set the table with forks and knives and napkins and glasses of water.  Sozont realized there was much more involved in serving dinner than just decorating the meat.  He was sorry he was making work for her during her illness.  He wanted to help out, but didn't know what to do, so he just did nothing.
     Marth sat down, cut off a piece of the chicken Kiev, and ate it.  "The rosemary really adds to the flavor."
     —"I just sprinkled that on to look like 'fur'.  If it actually tastes like anything, that's just a bonus."
     —"You're quite the culinary artist."
     —"I just threw this together.  I don't do much with arts and crafts."
     —"Oh, I do.  I've been playing around with some clay recently."
     As they talked and ate, Sozont noticed that the chicken actually did taste pretty good.  And Marth had recognized the "tray of voles"!  Sozont had to keep telling himself that, because it seemed so hard to believe.
     —"So when are you hoping to return to work?"
     —"Oh, another day or two.  I' still not back to 100%."
     —"Well, I hope you feel better soon."
     —"Yeah.  So I'm, er, not really up to, um, hopping in the sack with you today."  Wait, she's talking about having sex!  Was there a whole subtext to this conversation that Sozont hadn't been paying attention to?
     —"The thought hadn't crossed my mind," he said gallantly.  But the reply he got was a negative facial expression—one might even call it a "scowl".  Perhaps some backpedalling was in order.  "I suppose it should have."
     —"Yeah.  Or were you planning to wait for rutting season to get into high gear and then suddenly start trying?"
     Sozont was getting nervous.  He had no idea how to navigate this topic.  He really ought to just tell her about his RL virginity, but she was being so forceful that he didn't want to show any weakness.  "I don't think this meeting really counts as a 'date'.  I've been trying to think of something we could do, but I just can't settle on an appropriate excursion."
     —"How about a visit to East Cupcake Hot Tubs?"
     —"Sure.  When?"
     —"Wednesday.  8 PM."
     —"I'll be there!"
     Marth wrapped the other two chicken breasts in foil and put them in the fridge.  She washed up Sozont's tray and gave it to him.  "I'm really very tired.  I should go back to bed."
     —"It was nice meeting you again, Marth.  I can hardly wait until Wednesday!"
     —"Yeah.  See you then, Sozont!"
     As he headed out the door, Sozont tried to shake hands with Marth, as if this had been a business meeting.  But she caressed his hand instead of shaking it, so he touched her hand too.  Sozont was surprised at how the tender moment felt—why should touching hands matter so much?  But it did.  Then Marth moved her hand to the door, waiting to close it.  Sozont took the hint and left.

     On his way home, Sozont thought about his visit with Marth.  The hot-tub thingy was scary.  He was quite certain that he would be expected to get naked for that.  But Sozont would do what was required for the situation.  And if he was stiff and formal about it he probably wouldn't embarrass himself too badly.

Next episode:    In the Hot Tub    [Frankness; nudity; poor self-image]
Prev. episode: Trying New Things [Intrusive RL politics]
Episode list: Contents

-- Pyesetz the Dog