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"Do you feel like eating dinner, Jake?" she asked, opening a can of soda and placing a straw in it for him.

"I'm hungry," he confessed, "but my stomach is still upset. I don't think I could keep anything down right now."

"But, you haven't eaten anything since the hospital," sighed Abby. "Here, maybe some soda will help settle your stomach. When you think you can handle food, let me know and I'll fix you something to eat."

"Do you want me to eat this in another room, Jake?" asked Dennis, already working on a second slice of pizza.

"No, it's all right," sighed the young man. "You can stay."

Disturbed that Jake was still suffering problems with an upset stomach, Abby halfheartedly nibbled at some pizza before setting it aside. Ironically, she was experiencing a little morning sickness, and didn't have much of an appetite, either.

"What painkiller is he on?" inquired Dennis, beginning to feel a little out of place, for he was the only one there who was eating.

"Xantol," answered the young woman, sipping her soda.

"That'd do it," related Dennis. "I once broke my arm, and the doctor put me on Xantol. For about two days, I couldn't keep a thing down. When I stopped taking the Xantol, my appetite returned. Those painkillers can really play a number on your stomach. That's probably Jake's problem."

"Jake, what about it?" she asked. "How badly do you want to eat?"

"I'm not that hungry," he breathed carefully, "at least, not yet. Maybe, I'll be a little braver, later."

"I've got to get something in your stomach," said Abby, "Xantol or not. Maybe chicken broth would do the trick. Let me see... the grocery store is still open. Would you both excuse me for a minute? I'm going to call Uncle Terry."

With that, Abby went to the living room to make a phone call. While she was busy, Dennis saw the mess that their impromptu meal had generated, and helped out by cleaning up the pizza boxes and napkins.

"I think I'd better get running," Dennis announced to Jake, after checking the time. "Thanks for dinner. I'm glad we had that talk."

"Thanks for giving her the job," replied Jake.

With a smile and a nod, Dennis went to the living room where Abby was giving a verbal grocery list to Terry over the telephone. Her guest waved good-bye, and then disappeared out the front door in a burst of frigid evening air.

Back in his room, Jake was trying to settle down into sleep, as he had done so easily the other times that day. Oddly enough, however, sleep wouldn't come. Suddenly, an old concern began to creep over him. The hospital had kept him so sedated, that he had never had much of a possibility of going into a flashback. But now, he could tell that whatever strong medication he had been on, was completely worn off. To Jake's dismay, he was feeling more wide awake now than he had in several days, and it frightened him.

"Well, that was a nice visit," announced Abby, entering the bedroom and closing the window curtains, for it was growing dark outside. "Praise the Lord, I'm going to have a job that lets me work from home this winter!" she smiled happily. "Jake, are you feeling all right? You look a little strange."

"I'm fine," he answered in a low voice. "I just want to get some rest."

"Okay," smiled Abby. "When Uncle Terry arrives with your groceries, I'll set them aside until you feel like trying food again. Before you go to sleep, though, you have some medications you need to take."

Abby went to the cupboard in the kitchen, and soon returned with some brightly colored pills and more soda.

"These are part of your antiviral regimen for HIV," explained Abby, placing the pills one by one on his tongue, as Jake swallowed them down with soda pop. "The doctor said I could give you one sedative a day," she offered. "It's nowhere near as powerful as the one you were on in the hospital, but it's better than nothing. Do you want it now?"
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