While You Were Sick

Submitted into Contest #105 in response to: Write your story from the perspective of a side character.... view prompt


Friendship Middle School

Joanna versus Cooper. Cooper versus Joanna. On the most special occasions: Cooper versus Joanna and Vivian. Note that I do not come first even when I am mentioned, because I am simply the sense behind Joanna’s operations. I am on call if needed, watching the unfriendly competition with bursts of prank battles. Prank battles that turn to prank wars. And wars have a knack for getting out of hand.

But that’s where I come in. Joanna is ambitious, with the tendency to think two days after she acts. So when she tells me her ideas to bring Cooper down, I’m there to calm Joanna down. Now, she’s getting out of hand as she tells me her ideas for her next revenge as I book my Covid vaccine. I tell her to let the rage of Cooper’s latest prank die down and try again tomorrow.

The next four days are a blur as I get vaccinated with a deluge of unsavory side effects. I am bed ridden for three days, feeling nothing but heat, seeing nothing but blurs, and dreaming nothing but nonsense. In one dream, I text Joanna Cooper’s locker number for the eighteenth time, in another my dad is angry and concerned with me for eating too much peanut butter. In many, I am on fire, wriggling in front of angry adults as Joanna struggles to extinguish me.

I wake up in the night and I am dry. My head has a reasonable, almost comforting ache, a relief from the perpetual boa constrictor around my head of the last few days. When I stand up, I feel over 90 percent normal, so I take a cold shower and eat cornflakes before going back to bed. 

When I wake up, I see the cot in my room with some of my mother’s beddings. I haven’t been sick enough for a parent to stay with me for years! 

“Good morning Vivian,” my dad greets, “I’m assuming by your late night cornflakes excursion that you are actually well enough to go to school today?”

I chuckle. The emphasis on “actually,” must mean I tried to convince him to let me go to school sometime this week while I was still so ill I couldn’t remember. “Yep. I’ll need to after all that’s happened over this last week.”

“You got that right.”

For some reason, both my mother and dad drive me, instead of having me walk, but I’m not complaining. It’s a little odd to be going to school at 11:39 in the morning, but at least I won’t miss any of my afternoon classes. It’s a short drive, and by the time we get there, the parking lot is nearly empty and my parents start walking with me to the office, their expressions solemn. I must have really missed a lot!

I think that my parents are just going to explain the situation to the people at the office, but there’s no one at the front desk, and we keep going until we reach the conference room. Around the table are Joanna and her dad, some guy with an eyepatch and two adults on either side of him whom I’m guessing are his parents, and the principal. There are rageful ruby scratches around the boy’s eyepatch. Something is not quite right today. I look at my mother, who nods towards a seat. Her and my dad sit next to me.

“As we all know, bullying is not tolerated at this educational institution, and assault is not tolerated by the law. But Mr. and Mrs. Tumbletome have been gracious enough to allow Vivian to share her side of the story, concerning the events of Thursday, May 17, from about 5:24 pm, before deciding to press charges.” The principal says. 

I raise my hand and speak once I have been nodded to. “Could someone please fill me in on what is happening and what has happened? Is today not Thursday? Is it not just around noon? Who are Mr. and Mrs. Tumblet- wait, isn’t that Cooper’s last name? Is that boy in the eyepatch Cooper? Why is the school so empty? Why does Joanna look so distressed? Who has assaulted who here?”

Everyone in the room stares at me. My mother whispers something about her and dad telling me about this yesterday. 

Yesterday, when I was still delirious.

“Yes, I am Cooper.” The boy in the eyepatch announces. 

“W-what happened to you?!”

“Well Vivian,” the principal says, “Today is Saturday, May 19. We’re actually here to hear your side of the story, as I said and we can’t really tell you what has occurred since Joanna and Cooper have different details of the events.”

If I’m at school on a weekend something has gone horribly wrong, “I’ve been sick all week?!”

My dad mutters “hoh boy” under his breath. 

“Maybe check our conversations from… Tuesday,” Joanna says quietly, “On your phone.”

Joanna never says anything quietly, so I scramble to pull out my phone. The first message I see from yesterday is from Joanna, reading I’m so sorry I got you into this.

My response says lololololol

I scroll up to Tuesday and I see that Joanna had asked me for Cooper’s locker combination again, and asked me if I thought one of her pranks was a good idea. Since he takes so long to change after practice i wanna take his drone from his locker and buzz around him maybe chase him down the hall

Right now, I am going through the possible risks in my head, what if the drone is expensive and we break it? What if we hit him and he gets hurt? What if we accidentally destroy some school property? And what if it’s just not that funny? But my response on Tuesday was HEHE lets do itttt

Problem number one.

“So, I assaulted Cooper…” I realize. 

“Both of you,” The victim’s mom sniffs. 

This is a new concept. I’m never the one assaulting Cooper, in a joking sense or in a real situation, like this. I keep checking my phone. There’s nothing exchanged between Joanna and I besides assignment information, until Thursday, where I tell her of my plan to leave the house and join her for this heist. My stomach knots as I begin to remember what unfolded that day. 

“At around 4, that must have been when my parents went out,” I begin, “ So I left shortly after and met Joanna. We saw Cooper at baseball practice-”

“Track and field,” Cooper interrupts.

“I don’t remember any tracks but okay, tra-

“If you don’t know what you remember, then how do we know this story is true?” Cooper’s dad asks.

“That’s what I’m wondering! But I’ll continue to try my best.”

“Maybe in your mind my javelin was a baseball bat,” Cooper suggests.

“Okay, that makes sense,” I continue, “So Cooper’s throwing sticks, Joanna and I are snickering for some reason, then we decide to go down to his locker to see if we know what to do. Then… then we… uhm… hold on for a bit. What happened next Joanna?”

“It has to be your story,” Joanna almost whispers.

There was a terrible smell downstairs, where we were lurking. Or maybe it was just where I was sitting… 

“Right! I had diarrhea, and I used the bathroom for a very, very long time, and then I went to Cooper’s locker to look for something to eat. There were a lot of peanut butter cups so I ate them all and then Joanna told me to hide, because our prey was coming.”

Joanna slumped a bit. I am not helping the case.

“I didn’t see what happened next because I was hiding in the electrical closet. I remember that specific detail because I thought it’d be hilarious to turn off the light in the boy’s change room when Joanna told me that only Cooper was there. Ho-ho, I see now how this happened! What a disaster!

“Then, I snatched the drone controller from Joanna, and I couldn’t see where the drone was going because the lights were off, and I finally crashed it into something.”

It all joins together now, Joanna looking startled, the piercing cry for help from down the hall, and Joanna screaming when she reaches the scene of the crime first. When I saw Cooper and his blood, I started giggling. 

“How did you not think this would go wrong?!” Cooper shrieked at us. My giggles turned to laughs as Joanna called an ambulance. I watched it like a show, my head wasn’t really there so it was like it was nothing but a gory sitcom. Joanna’s fingers were shaking so much that she miss-dialed the three numbers, that put me over the edge as I collapsed in wheezing guffaws. 

“You’re sick,” Joanna groaned, “You’re so so sick! How could I let this-”

“Yes, she is!” Cooper wailed. “She’s as sick as hel-” 

Joanna cut him off. “I mean she’s ill!”

“Is this necessary for our understanding of your intentions?” The principal interjects. I hadn’t fully realized that I had been piecing together out loud.

“I-I guess not.” I say.

“I think it’s fair to say that Vivian was not planning on assaulting Cooper,” joins Joanna’s dad, “She was just… under the influence… of a bad sickness.”

My parents seem to find that amusing.

“Wait!” Joanna’s dad’s use of the term “under the influence,” has reminded me of an important detail. “That’s it! Before I left, I took a bunch of pills that the doctor must’ve prescribed for me because of the side effects of the vaccine, so I took those to feel better to help Joanna. Of course I see now that was a bad idea.”

My dad’s face becomes like a bleached t-shirt, and my mother tells me that I could’ve died.

“Cooper could have died!” Cooper’s mother exclaims. 

“But I didn’t,” her son observes. He doesn’t seem to be joining in on his parents' fair concern.

“So,” the principal begins to conclude the gathering, “The problem here was that when Joanna asked for advice, Vivian was not in the right mindset to give advice, but Joanna was not aware. Vivian then snuck out of the house to help Joanna with her bad idea and then stole Cooper’s property, broke his face using his property, and laughed at him. But Vivian was in an even worse frame of mind because of her medication, which she overdosed on. This is hopefully the true and complete story. Right, Vivian?”

“Well, I hope so. I also vomited all over Cooper’s shirt, which I’m sorry about.”

“What?” Asked Cooper.

“He wasn’t wearing a shirt!” Cooper’s dad said, “ His chest was all scratched up too! How are we supposed to trust-”

“Oh wait, hold on.” My dad says calmly, “ She vomited all over my shirt when I came to pick her up at the school. It was disgusting.”

“Right! And you said that you hate peanut butter now, and told me not to eat too much of it,” I add, remembering my dream. “It all makes sense!”

“A-anyways,” The principal obviously wants to get home. “Now that we’ve heard everything, Mrs. and Mr. Tumbletome, what do you think?”

“I think Joanna’s an idiot.” Mrs. Tumbletome replied.

“Get roasted, Joanna.” Cooper smiled.

“I mean, Vivian has to think for her?”


“And then she went and made up a story about Vivian being in the bathroom the whole time. Like, who’d believe that?”

“We can talk later,” Joanna’s dad growls. 

“I simply exaggerated the time she was in the bathroom for, so that she’d stay out of trouble!” Joanna protests.

“I just meant what do you folks think about the charges against Vivian and Joanna.” The principal tried not to sigh.

“Joanna will pay the ambulance bills, Vivian’s parents will hide her meds.” Mr. Tumbletome says curtly. 

The court is adjourned, and Joanna's dad and Cooper’s mom go out to have a fiery chat, as do their children on the other side of the building. As I observe Cooper and Joanna beating each other up, I am quite glad that Cooper is not actually angry with Joanna (or me), as he has every right to be. Everyone knows that people who hate each other in middle school get married as adults, and I hope to be their maid of honor. I am also glad to leave them to their rivalries, while I am on demand if needed.

August 06, 2021 01:34

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Aeris Walker
09:43 Jul 20, 2023

Clever idea of structuring this like a courtroom setting. It gave the whole thing a sense of seriousness and professionalism, which unravels as learn the ridiculous situation these kids got themselves in. Well done :)


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Angel {Readsy}
19:16 Oct 24, 2021

Please comment my new story thank you


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Angel {Readsy}
19:16 Oct 24, 2021

Upcoming upvoting Upcoming upvoting Upcoming upvoting Upcoming upvoting Upcoming upvoting


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Tolu Odel
01:36 Aug 06, 2021

It's been so long since I've written... be merciful as you read!😭


Angel {Readsy}
19:17 Oct 24, 2021

Perfect story


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