Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘We will know someone’

Reader-submitted stories of the COVID-19 pandemic, in no more than 100 words. Read past stories here. Submit your own here.

Certainty

Working at a long table. A Fabio Mauri work to my right called Director. Am I still a director when theater has been cancelled? Ahead are piles of books. For work, for comfort, for poetry. I look up from the screen and take in the view. Trees and hill and sky. All healing, I hope. Underfoot, Sofia, the newfie, peacefully snoozing. To my left, Tenley. Bravely and generously forging through. She astounds me. Boundlessly. We have adventured, laughed, and cried together. Now, we are bewildered and scared. Together. Certain only of our love. That is enough. That is the poetry.

— Chari Arespacochaga (Beacon, New York)

The view and book spine poetry.  

* * *

Pumpernickel

Pushing carts, we milled around the empty shelves of meat, eggs, bread, when I spotted in a dark display, a loaf of pumpernickel—round, brown as peasant rye, the devil’s farts, my mother used to say. Sandwiches for my daughter’s lunch, a slather of mustard—I set the loaf into my cart and pushed on. Coming towards me, a couple, white, sixties, better than this neighborhood market. The woman said, “Look, no bread.” He grumbled. I pointed to my loaf: “pumpernickel.” A day’s loot. His face twisted with petulance, “What if I don’t like pumpernickel?” And I missed my mother most of all.

— Linda Thomas (Irvine, California)

The loaf, brown as peasant rye.

* * *

In This Together

A siren. Sometimes steps in the apartment above me. The sound of water running through pipes because someone flushed a toilet. These are the sounds I hear in the wee hours of the morning when I lie in bed, unable to sleep. I think about how fragile our systems are. How in a matter of weeks, something invisible to the naked eye has essentially shut down the entire world. It’s humbling. But also awe-inspiring. I’ve been more intensely connected to the people around me than ever before, perhaps. We’re in this together. We will get through it together.

— Chantal Bilodeau (New York, New York)

The view from my bedroom window.

* * *

We Will Know Someone

Yesterday, I phoned my aunt, 68 years old, risk group, to see how she was holding up. She told me that she and her husband, 71, risk group, no longer leave their house. If she remembered anything similar: curfews, hysteric preppers in supermarkets, mass social anxiety; she told me no. Chernobyl: she told me about mushrooms and field plants. Why: she told me that she was twelve when they installed the village’s first landline phone. Then she asked me if I remembered him: who? the deceased, the second: no. The shiver in her voice told me that she did.

— Lisa Schantl (Graz, Austria)

Oberlimbach, 2006.

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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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