The Worst Day
Her arms were covered in bandages as she rested in her hospital bed. Her stomach had been aching since the morning and she couldn’t stand the pain. There were even injuries on her face and neck.
No one could have imagined what she was going through. How did their family vacation turn into this? Her youngest son sat next to her, tears streaming down his cheeks. She couldn’t stop crying either, not after the doctor told them what the problem was.
Matilda Stockholm and her son, Brett, lived in Seattle. Her son made her very proud, and he had recently passed his SAT exams.
Matilda was so ecstatic about her son’s accomplishment that she wanted to treat him to a trip to the Caribbean. Matilda was a single mother, and it warmed her heart to watch her young boy grow into a successful man.
In Need Of A Break
Matilda’s personal life has been placed in the backseat for years now, as she was focused on her work. She barely took any time off and worked herself to the point of burnout.
It was pure luck that celebrating Bret’s accomplishment coincided with the ideal time to take a vacation. She had no idea how drastically the trip would alter her life.
Having A Blast
Matilda made sure to book the holiday right after her son’s last school day. And within a blink of an eye, the pair were in Aruba with their big sun hats and coconut drinks.
Matilda and Brett were having the time of their lives. The island was beautiful, and the people were pleasant. However, in their second week, things started to go downhill.
Matilda was lying on the beach, the warm gaze of the setting sun bathing her. However, pain erupted across her body, causing her to let out a piercing scream. She got up while clutching her aching stomach.
Matilda resisted the temptation to scream as the anguish intensified. She couldn’t explain what was going on, but she knew she wanted to return to her room right away.
Rushing To Her Room
Matilda barely had the strength to gather her belongings, but she picked everything up, remembering not to forget her beautiful emerald beach blanket that she purchased in Aruba.
She dashed to her room, dumped her belongings on the bed, and raced into the bathroom. She examined herself and noticed that she had slight discoloration all over her body. Her brows were furrowed. Something didn’t feel quite right.
An Unexplainable Reaction
Matilda stood in her bathroom for a while, wondering why her body was having such a wild reaction to something she couldn’t pinpoint.
She could feel nausea knock at the back of her mouth. Her stomach swirled with sickness, sending bitter liquid up to her throat at random intervals. What was happening to her?
Keeping It A Secret
Knowing how important this trip was for Bret, Matilda didn’t want to ruin the mood with her sickness. She slept through the evening, only waking up to take another shower and join him for dinner.
She wore a yellow sundress when she met Bret that evening. And although she still felt sick, she was a little better than she had been in the evening. At dinner, Bret asked where she was as the day neared nightfall.
She Can’t Tell Him
Matilda’s stomach clenched as she prepared to lie to her son. She knew how happy he was to be here. This trip was her way of showing him how proud she was of him. How could she sully that with sad news?
But Matilda had never lied to her son before, and although she knew it was necessary for this situation, she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She set her cutlery aside and locked eyes with him.
Bending The Truth
“I was a little under the weather,” Matilda said. “A mild headache,” she added, slightly bending the truth. When Bret’s brows furrowed, she reached out for his hand and said, “I’m fine. Now eat your food before it gets cold.”
The topic changed afterward, with the mom and son talking about their struggles in life and how they’d beat all the odds to reach where they were now. Could the night be any more perfect?
Taking Matters Into Her Hands
Matilda bid Bret goodnight and retired to her room. She still had no idea why she’d been sick earlier, and she knew she needed to get to the root of it before it caused bigger problems.
What if it was some infection that was running around the hotel? Matilda wouldn’t forgive herself if Bret got sick as well. She finished her laptop and the green beach blanket. She’d get to the bottom of this.
Matilda sat on her balcony in the breezy Aruba night. She’d draped her blanket over her legs with her laptop over it. She researched for almost an hour but still came up empty. Then her sight began swimming.
Matilda rubbed her eyes, noting that she wasn’t sleepy. But why were her eyes tired? She was about to get up when searing pain flared through her body.
Pain Like No Other
Matilda gritted her teeth. The pain shot through her again, from her feet toward her stomach and chest. She placed her laptop aside, noticing rashes covered her body like earlier in the evening.
She couldn’t believe it. It was all happening again. Nausea fired through her, and she let out an inaudible cry. Something was happening to her, and she didn’t know what.
Calming The Pain
Matilda hurried into her room, leaving her blanket and laptop on the balcony. She powered through the pain that wended all over her body and jumped into the shower.
Her skin was burning, and she could barely stand. She let cold water sluice over her, enjoying how it calmed the pain flaring all over her skin. But then it got worse.
Informing Her Son
Blemishes darkened Matilda’s skin, doubling the pain even though she was in the cold shower. She gritted her teeth, using everything she had not to rush out and call Bret.
She wouldn’t ruin their vacation, but she at least needed to let him know that something was wrong. She struggled out of the shower and texted him, letting him know her head was acting up again. She told him she’d likely miss breakfast in the morning.
He Comes To See Her
Matilda expected to go to bed that night, but Bret came knocking when she put her phone down. The two spent the night talking, and although Matilda didn’t admit it, Bret’s presence alone made her feel a lot better.
As the night inched toward early morning, Bret rolled up with one of Matilda’s blankets on her room’s couch. Matilda hoped he wouldn’t catch whatever threatened to cut her vacation short.
A Bad Morning
Matilda woke up to her son vomiting in her bathroom that morning. She rushed to him, surprised to find herself feeling a lot better. “I think I ate something bad,” Bret complained.
Matilda remembered how nauseated she’d felt throughout the day and night. She ran her sight across Bret’s arms and neck for the tale-tell blemishes that’d marked her body but found none. What was going on?
“I think we need to see a doctor,” Matilda said with alarm. “No,” Bret shook his head. “I went out with some friends, mom,” he confessed.
“What do you mean went out?” asked Matilda. “Some of the kids from the beach had this party down the drive from the hotel. I went,” Bret said. What Bret revealed next made Matilda’s eyes widen.
A Plate Of Fish
“They were serving some sort of fish,” said Bret. “I took a plate, and I’ve felt weird since.” He looked back at her with a smile. “I feel a lot better now that it’s out of my system. But you—”
“What about me?” Matilda cut him off. “You look way better than I do,” Bret’s smile broadened. “How do you feel, mom?” Matilda crossed her arms before her chest. Her answer would shock even her.
A Surprising Realization
“I feel great,” she shared, surprising herself with her words. “But I’m going to stay in bed for a minute and relax. I want you to go out there and have fun, Bret,” she held out her arms for him.
When Bret came in to embrace Matilda, she said, “And no eating any more funny fish, alright?” “Yeah, mom,” Bret chuckled. Matilda hoped he didn’t have what she had.
Sleeping It Off
Matilda took some painkillers and a shower. She lay back down with a book as the day went by. After a few hours, she was feeling like her old self.
She got ready for dinner, wearing a vintage dress she’d bought alongside the beach blanket. It was green as well, and it made her feel like she could take on the world all by herself. But the night wouldn’t be as peaceful as she thought it would be.
Dinner With Her Son
Matilda was enjoying scallops with her son when a familiar pain shot up the length of her spine. She almost hurled out her food, closing her eyes as the pain wended around her arms and legs.
Was it the food causing her this much discomfort? She couldn’t think of anything else that would make her body feel like it was splitting itself in two. If only she’d looked down at the color that she was wearing.
It Get’s Worse
The tale-tell burning rash fell on Matilda’s skin with a vengeance. The pain in her stomach grew, and she couldn’t taste the food she was trying to force down her throat.
“Mom?” Bret looked at her with raised brows. “You alright?” he ran a hand against her forehead and said, “You’re burning up, mom.” “I’m fine,” Matilda said. The pain was getting worse, and blemishes had turned her skin red. “I need to lie down.”
Going To Bed
Matilda returned to her room with Bret’s help. He got her a glass of milk and tucked her into bed. Matilda couldn’t even change out of her vintage green dress.
The blemishes on her skin turned into painful sores. She felt like someone was holding her under a tap of burning acid. As she tossed and turned, a realization hit her.
The Right Thing To Do
“I need a doctor,” Matilda mumbled as she weakly reached out of bed for her phone. She called Bret, barely able to explain everything. She also called downstairs for a cab and the location of the nearest hospital.
Bret burst into her room. Worry and anxiety covered his face. “Mom,” he screamed, lunging for Matilda. Did she look that bad, or was he being dramatic?
Meeting The Doctor
Lucky for Matilda, the hospital was a short drive from their hotel. The receptionist booked her in immediately, and a doctor came to see her.
Bret was drenched in tears beside her, awake even though it was hours past midnight. The doctor walked in with Matilda’s results, aiming to speak. Then his gaze landed on her dress.
“Where did you get this dress?” the doctor asked and called for a nurse. “We’ve got to get you out of that dress!” he added. The nurse rushed in, hurrying Bret and the doctor out of the room. She helped Matilda into a hospital gown and invited the two back in.
“What is wrong with the dress?” Matilda asked. What could be so bad about a dress to cause such panic?
Green Is For Danger
“How long have you had that dress?” the doctor asked instead of answering her question. “Last week, I bought it from a shop as we landed. Why?”
“The dress was made in 1950, kept safely through the years, I think,” said the doctor. “What’s interesting about it is its green color.” “What about it?” Matilda asked.
Invincible And Dangerous
“It is quite poisonous,” the doctor answered. “Scheele’s green, we call it. Has enough arsenic to put down a dozen people.”
“I am glad you came in as early as you did,” he continued. He also informed Matilda that the hospital would be retaining her for a few days until she got better. As he continued talking, Matilda realized something.
The Dress And Beach Blanket
The beach blanket was green as well. Matilda had it at the beach and out on the balcony. It was the reason why she’d been in such pain.
The dress and beach blanket were both poisonous. Matilda didn’t know how she’d not seen it earlier. She looked at Bret, seeing someone who’d sacrificed his vacation to be by her side. Matilda couldn’t have asked for a more caring son.