Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘The subtle encroachment of a new age’

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

Just Being

Self-isolation? It’s my natural state, so I smile as people emerge, groping like moles, from their action-packed, noise-filled lives and discover a new world: a world of birdsong and the songs of neighbors, a book on the balcony, recipes concocted from the store cupboard, old clothes worn again. It’s a world of today not tomorrow, of talking less and listening more, of wondering and pondering. Not out there, but in here. Not doing, but being. Join me; it’s not so scary after all. You might even come to prefer it.

— Angela Dyer (Limousin, France)

Finding new patterns.

* * *

Out from Inside

Suddenly it is silent in the biggest city in South America. São Paulo used to be an orchestra of cars, buses, motorbikes, and horns all through the day. Birds adapted their communication, singing later at night, around 11 PM. People used to go to bars from Monday to Monday. Now, we hear a hope of silence and we meet every day at 8:30 PM. Everybody goes to the window to shout “Fora!” (“Out!”). We are screaming our deepest wish from inside: that our president leave the government. In silence, maybe our voices will be heard.

— Nathalia Favaro (São Paulo, Brazil)

8:30 PM in São Paulo.

* * *


On Saturday, locals hung a sign on the light post: “go the fuck home.” This weekend, an electronic sign at the turn reads “parks closed by health order.” I look over to the east hills. They look bigger, brighter than I recall. The duck’s cry echoes across the water in a way that I have not heard before. Every three minutes a car drives north or south. I time it. The planes fly only in the evening. The store has taped red tape to the floor at six foot intervals. A white-gloved man opens the door.

— Gwendolyn Meyer (California)

Deep woods.

* * *

Shopping Trip

At the store, I replenish food supplies and check, again, for cleaning products. I’m struck by the boundaries that have been placed, the subtle encroachment of a new age, an air of sci-fi dystopia. Tall robots clean the aisles. “We’re stronger together,” a soft, feminine voice says over the loudspeaker. There are acrylic shields between guests and clerks, tape on the floor designating six feet between each patron like marks on the stage of a surreal, somber play. I pick up a jar absentmindedly, put it back, feel guilty; I never realized how frequently we touch each other.

— Alexis Bobrik (Berryville, Virginia)

Please buy only what you really need.


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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