Reader-submitted stories of the COVID-19 pandemic, in no more than 100 words. Read past stories here. Submit your own here.
Rolling change. Cancellations. New challenges. Zooming in. Listening to news. Fearing the worst. Washing hands raw. Stocking up. Bracing. Watching the world stop. Stopping. Breathing. Spreading out into newfound time. Seeing hope. Clear water in the canals in Venice. Fish and birds return. Pollution disappearing. The universe provides a reset button. Pressing it. Now.
— Mindi Dickstein (Bloomingdale, New Jersey)
* * *
Potatoes and Eggs
By the second grocery store, he’s becoming mildly panicked. “It’s not about running out of supplies,” he’d told his wife. “I just want to see.” “Check for potatoes and eggs,” she says.
He thinks of the son and daughter-in-law working at the hospital. “Stay in medicine,” he’d advised, “it’s a good financial move.” Money. The President’s solution is a tax break. “We don’t need money. We need PPEs,” his son says. Over the phone. Now, it’s only phone and text contact. It strikes him he’s old, suddenly – by the stroke of a mouse on a spreadsheet, 67 and “At Risk.”
— Peter Gerrard (Irvine, California)
* * *
The Keys in the time of Coronavirus
Despite the declared national emergency, nothing changes in the Florida Keys. We arrive at the Seafood Festival early to avoid the crowd. We sit in the back. The conch ceviche is delicious. The band plays Tom Petty songs as the locals greet each other. “I don’t care. I’m still going to give you a hug.” In the bathroom a woman sighs impatiently as I wash my hands. When I explain I’m singing “Happy Birthday” in my head she says, “Oh that.” We stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, the Lord’s Prayer and the Star-Spangled Banner. Perhaps this will protect us.
— Mary Camarillo (Huntington Beach, California)
* * *
I go to the forest in times of distress. Bigtooth Aspen eyes look out at me in the morning light. I stand in the stillness, almost hearing the summer sounds of the quivering leaves. A moment of interconnection with one tree, a sentinel in the empty understory where more and more individuals are falling. I feel their pain. On this day, I realize the consequences for ourselves and the natural world.
— Susan Hoenig (Princeton, New Jersey)
This series is edited by Thomas Peterson. One of the editors of Artists & Climate Change, he is also a theatre director and researcher whose work focuses on the climate crisis.
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