Because my mother doesn’t understand any two-letter word that begins with N, I found myself sitting in her living room over the holiday weekend despite my better judgment. To the left of me, Bella sneezed. A moment later, to my right, Sean coughed. My eyes widened in trepidation. “Something must have tickled her nose,” Jane said to explain her daughter’s sneeze, while Sean assured me his cough was due to the dry air.
“It’s swine flu,” said Mom, a mischievous gleam in her eye. I pretended not to hear her and surreptitiously put my hand over my nose and mouth and tried not to breathe.