A Little Cough

Kelly coughed, then looked up.

Around her, heads turned. Everyone looked over at this disturbing of the peace, the quiet that surrounded them. Not only the disturbed peace, but the mortal risk, the infection she could be spreading. The days off that she would necessitate, the lost revenue. The runny noses, vomit, fever, perhaps rashes and poxes and eventual cancers that Kelly was bringing them.

“Excuse me,” Kelly said.

Some glared, but most returned to their work. Kelly looked down at her desk an took a deep breath. She sipped from her water bottle, only to swallow wrongly and choke. A bout of coughing followed, her face reddening, tears coming to her eyes.

Kelly’s coworkers logged off their computers, stood, and moved to desks farther away while she coughed and coughed, eventually clearing her throat. She looked up, hoping to clear the problem. It helped, though her throat continued to tickle, and she kept making small coughs.

Everyone around her was annoyed. She received six reports to management about her risking the overall health of the office, and three reports of harassing her coworkers.

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