Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘The song of a blackbird emerges’

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

What We Take In

I made it to another Friday. Outside, there is a man teaching his son the difference between “goose” and “geese.” His lessons echo through the packed houses of our shared driveway and into our rooms. Inside, my landlord’s toddler has a conversation with his grandfather. He speaks – well, yells – his baby jargon while everyone else listens. He has command of the room.

I am quiet, thinking about the people with masks exchanging unknown air for droplets of worry. I wonder what I can do with what I’ve witnessed, and what words should come out with the breaths I have left.

— Jonar Isip (San Ramon, California)

Packed houses.

* * *

Six Miles Apart

On the spacious Jeffrey Trail, walkers, runners, bikers, and dogs merge in and out trying to stay six-feet apart, when I hear my four-year-old grandson exclaim, “Grammy! You’re not staying six miles away from them!” I hear the fear in his voice and I smile. I correct his miles to feet and show him what six feet look like, and I reassure him that everything is okay. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, if it will be okay, but today it is, on the Jeffrey Trail, with my two grandchildren, and I am grateful.

— Tamara Hendrick (Irvine, California)

Grandkids on the Jeffrey Trail.

* * *

Springtime: A Call for Change

Spring has sprung. I wake to birdsong, sit in the sunshine on my patch of concrete. I breathe chilled air as the earth breathes a sigh of relief. My phone buzzes with news from afar: France, Canada, Brazil, Australia; family and friends in self-isolation reaching out and checking in, swapping coping strategies, jokes, cabin-fever catastrophes, appeals to loved ones for resilience and strength. Força. Courage. As we draw inwards, we look outwards, see that we are made stronger by what unites, not what divides us. May this be a lesson to us all, and one that we never forget.

— Gina Robinson (Bristol, United Kingdom)

Spring in Bristol.

* * *

Time Moves Differently Here

It’s Thursday. Is it Thursday? It is Thursday. I have lived an entire day in an hour.

I stop to make a cup of tea. I fill the mug with hot water, watch the teabag drift aimlessly, imagine being cwtched on all sides, warm and safe as I float dreamlessly onwards.

When I look up, an entire afternoon has flung itself past my window.

Time is contracted and concertinaed and stretched beyond recognition, all at once.

From between the folds; the song of a blackbird emerges, unfurls. On and on it goes, until it fills the infinite void.

— Ruth Stringer (Cardiff, Wales)



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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