Lulu was not feeling well at all. Her cheeks were not rosy- in fact they were pale. Her lips had formed a strange twisted look that was certainly not a smile. She decided to go see Dr. McLeen immediately.
"What is it, Dr?" she asked. "Is it swine flu?"
"No, it is not" replied the doctor. "It is an advance case of malaise and angst. It may be contagious. You had better get a substitute." The doctor wrote out a note and handed it to Lulu.
"For how long?" asked Lulu. The doctor advised a day or two.
Lulu sat on her quilt at home, sipped her bloody mary (another recommendation at the clinic) and glanced at her cell phone. Perhaps the physician was right: a substitute was needed. She arranged for one the following day, and left her white plastic notebook marked substitute assignments on the coffee table.
In the morning the substitute arrived. As per the instructions in the notebook, she ate a small healthy breakfast and put on a cotton dress. After cleaning the kitchen and starting the laundry, she left for lunch with Lulu's best friend, Matilda.
Matilda looked surprised. "I'm the substitute" said the substitute. "Lulu isn't feeling well. The doctor says her misery may be catching." Matilda nodded in agreement and the two chatted about their weeks, their love lives, and their families. They argued over the check for a minute or two before settling up. "See you next week?" asked the substitute.
"Eerr, I guess?" said Matilda. She kissed her cheek and tottered off to her car.
The substitute consulted the notebook. Oh, dear. She picked up Lulu's cell phone and carefully scrolled through the address book.
Ring, ring... The substitute turned on the car and drove towards the coffee shop.
"Hello?" said the phone. "Lulu? Are you there?"
"Hello," said the substitute. "I am the substitute. Lulu is suffering from turmoil."
"Umm, is she ok?" asked the voice.
"She will be ok." said the substitute. "Listen, this is going to be hard, but I can't do this anymore."
"What do you mean?" said the voice. "I'm confused."
"I can't be with you anymore. Its just too hard." said the substitute.
"Umm, do you mean 'you' as in the substitute, or 'you' as in Lulu?" he asked.
"Me as in Lulu" said the substitute. "I am the substitute. The substitute for Lulu. I can't do this anymore. I'm sorry. You are a really nice guy but I need some space. I will return your things within the week to you..." the substitute glanced down at the notebook, "to your brother."
The substitute hung up the phone. It had gone easier than she had predicted. She did a little grocery shopping, sent out some resumes, and wrote up some detailed summaries of Lulu's favorite television programs.
At the end of the day, the substitute laid the notebook down on the coffee table and went to her home. Lulu sat up in bed and sighed- she felt rested and invigorated. Her consternation was noticeably diminished. She sipped her bloody mary and sat back with her television summaries.
Lulu breathed deeply and relaxed her face muscles. If only the substitutes weren't so expensive, she thought.