Bethany clutched her stomach with her left hand while leaning heavily on the stair's handrail with her right. She took one more step up, breathing out in a rush through her mouth.
The pain wasn't that bad, she insisted to herself. She was just over tired. If she could get upstairs and just lay down for a few minutes she would feel much better.
She took another step, this time sucking a quick breath in through her teeth. Looking up the long staircase in front of her, she took one long steadying breath and forced herself upright to start up the steps in as normal a stair-climbing posture as she could manage.
"Merow!" A black furry blur darted down the steps right at her and into a circle that twined itself around her legs forcing Bethany to grab the handrail again or risk falling to the landing below.
"Shadow," Bethany said, pausing again to breathe and calm herself. "Not now sweetie. Come upstairs. I'll snuggle with you there." She took the last three steps slower, placing her feet more carefully as Shadow continued to dart around underfoot.
Shadow would need dinner soon. Add that to all the other things she needed to take care of: picking up the grand-kids from school, checking in with Ms. Brown next door to make sure she was taking her medicine like she was supposed to, running by the marker to get the last few things she needed to make dinner before Henry came home. Bethany just didn't have time to feel unwell. A half hour nap, or at least a lie down was all she could manage. It would just have to be enough.
Chills went through her causing spasms of shivers as she made her way from the top of the stairs to the bedroom, Shadow trotting on ahead. Sitting down on the edge of the bed sent such a sharp stab of pain through her lower right abdomen that even Bethany could no longer pretend this was something that she could overcome with a nap.
She reached for the phone, dialed her doctor's office, speaking with a nurse there who, after a few questions, said she would send an ambulance. Bethany thanked her, and as she imagined the effort to go back downstairs to open the door, she tried to hang up the phone. She missed the cradle, knocking the bedside lamp which tipped and fell to the floor, shattering in tiny pieces.
Shadow leaped onto the bed in alarm, then curled herself around Bethany's head, partially on the pillow, purring and kneading her.