C12 Isabelle - What's wrong with me?
Isabelle rolled over and groaned. Her stomach heaved and she scrambled to the bathroom before vomiting. No way could she miss today...her class was doing a field trip to the zoo and all of her students were looking forward to it. Maybe it was the buffet she had last night with her friend and fellow teacher, Julia. Oh was she sick too?
Once Isabelle’s stomach settled, she wanted to crawl back into bed, but kids were depending on her. She brushed her teeth and threw up again. Taking gulping breaths, she then splashed water on her face. She had to hurry or Cooper would write her up again and she'd lose her job. And what about her students? They'd be devastated to lose their teacher now. She'd planned a Halloween treat day next week with them making homemade snacks and cookies to give to their friends and family. The stupid buffet that she should’ve said no to.
Popping a piece of peppermint candy, she tossed on a shirt and a pair of pants. She dashed to the car and swallowed down the nausea that rumbled in her stomach.
Not now. Later, when school is done it'll be okay to spew.
With three minutes until the tardy bell blared, Isabelle rushed down the hallway to her classroom.
“What happened to you?” Julia asked. “Did you tango dance with an electric mixer?”
Isabelle leaned against her door while kids milled down the aisle to their classes.
“No, I got food poisoning.” She waved to one of the students, Sophia who was in her class last year and discovered she had a love of math.
“How?” Julia crossed her arms. “We had the same thing for dinner last night and I'm fine. Maybe it's the flu early this year.”
“Yeah, that must be it.” Her knees felt weak and her head like it weighed a hundred pounds.
“Isabelle, you're turning green. Why are you here? Go home.”
She shook her head and squeezed her eyes shut at the dizziness that washed through her. The tardy bell rang and she opened her eyes. “I'll be fine. Let's get the kids ready for their field trip.”
“How about I take roll for both of us and you go get checked out by the nurse.” Julia pushed her lightly toward the nurse’s station. “If you have a fever, you're taking your contagious ass home. Deal?”
Isabelle grumbled, but at her friend’s stern expression of hard eyes and furrowed brow, she relented. Besides, she didn't want to get any of her kids sick. “Okay.”
Silence reigned in the hallways except for the squeak of Isabelle’s shoes. Because of the field trip, she wore comfortable flats rather than her usual heels.
“Why aren't you in your class?” Cooper barked behind her and she jumped.
Her hand flew to her heart. “Gesh, you scared the crap out of me.”
“Answer me.” He stepped toward her.
She couldn't tell him she was sick because he might not believe her. All he wanted was an excuse to get rid of her. Nausea punched her in the gut and she swallowed hard. “I just need some aspirin from Jan.”
“Likely story.” He crossed his arms. “Are you hungover again?”
The guy made it sound like she got sloshed at school all the time. How dare he insinuate that she was a drunk. “No. I just have a slight headache and thought it would be better to take something now before the field trip.”
He snorted. “Have Nurse Jan give me a full report on your health.”
Despite that being an invasion of privacy, I wasn't going to let him intimate me. “Shall I have her check my blood for intoxication too? That’s much more effective than a breathalyzer.” She smiled up at him.
His face turned reddish purple and his eyes narrowed. “Just hurry up and get back to your students.”
“Something we can both agree on.” She gave a curt nod then weaved around him to take the hallway on the left. Without looking back, she marched to the nurse’s office and knocked before entering.
“Isabelle?” Jan smiled and rose from her chair. “What can I do for you?”
“Hi. Don't mean to take up too much of your time, but I need my temperature checked.”
Jan’s eyebrows lifted. “Oh, are you feeling ill?”
“Just a bit queasy this morning and wanted to make sure it wasn't the flu or anything.”
“Of course. Have a seat.” Jan gestured to an exam table.
Once Isabelle sat down, Jan ran the thermometer over her forehead.
“No fever. Let's check your blood pressure.” Jan tightened a cuff around Isabelle’s arm. After a few squeezes of the dial, she frowned. “It's a little elevated...have you been under stress lately?”
Yes, Principal Cooper was the highlight of her work stress. “A bit.”
“You look pale too.” Jan frowned, taking off the blood pressure cuff. “When was the last time you ate?”
“Dinner yesterday.” She shrugged.
“Here.” Jan opened a small fridge and pulled out a protein shake. “Drink this, then I'll release you for duty.”
“Thanks.” Isabelle drank and wiped her mouth. “I'm feeling better and I really appreciate your help and checking me out. It was probably just a touch of food poisoning.”
Jan nodded and walked her to the door. “If it happens again, get checked out by your doctor. Oh, and you might take a pregnancy test if there is any chance you could be expecting.”
“No way.” But the image of Kohl kissing her and thrusting into her teased her mind. What if she was pregnant from a one-night stand weeks ago? Wait, did she have her period this month? Fucking crap! Don’t panic. Lots of months because of stress she didn’t have a period. And she had asked him if he had protection…except there wasn't any condom or package that she had found the next day. There was a chance he'd taken the trash with him. Maybe she'd get a pregnancy test on the way home just in case and put her crazed thoughts to rest.
* * *
Heat infused Isabelle so much she expected her flesh to steam if it started raining. Her shoes felt like they were melting into the asphalt as she hiked back to the bus. She glanced back and counted her students ensuring no one was left behind.
On the bus, she slid into the front seat behind the driver. Julia was across from her and her two moms, who volunteered, sat in the back. The students laughed and sang while the bus rumbled down the road. Before long, Isabelle fought to keep her eyes open. I'll close them for a minute.
“Isabelle, wake up, we're at school.”
Dazed, Isabelle blinked. “Let me help get the kids off—”
“Everyone's checked out.” Julia placed her hands on her hips. “You've been sound asleep for half an hour. I convinced the bus driver to let the engine run. School's over and all the kids have been picked up.”
“Thank you.” Isabelle wiped a spot of drool from her cheek. “I owe you.”
“Now, tell me what's going on.”
Julia glared at her. “I thought we were friends, but it's obvious you don't trust me.”
“Honestly, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” Isabelle blinked back tears. Her period was just late that’s all.
“Is it a guy?” Julia softened her features and gave her a sly smile. “The one you told you met at a bar last month? Did he come back or is he still being a jerk?”
“No, he’s still MIA. I don’t understand unless I misread that our chemistry was explosive.”
She dropped her hands and leaned forward. “So hire a detective and track him down. At least give you closure.”
“How? I have no phone number or email or address. Hell, I don't even have a last name. We were together for one night. That's it.”
“I don't underst—” she clapped her hand over her mouth for a second, then pulled it away. “Oh my god, are you pregnant?”
No, she couldn’t be. “I-I don't know. Hope not. Jan suggested I take a pregnancy test as a precaution to rule out why I got sick this morning. And lately, I've had no energy.”
“That settles it.” Julia helped Isabelle stand, then looped her arm through hers. “We are going to get you tested today.”
And then what? Isabelle placed a hand over her belly, a combination of anxiety and excitement played tug-of-war in her gut. She didn't know where Kohl was or how to find him. First thing first, she had to know if she was expecting or not.