Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘Care for the space between us’

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

Pillow, Blanket and Mattress

I love quarantine. I am doing yoga, cooking new recipes, talking to friends more often, jerking off at the slightest contact with myself, washing dishes non-stop, learning about the 40,000 virus-carrying droplets in a sneeze. What is there not to love about quarantine? I will tell you: crying myself to sleep while picturing my loved ones dying alone, my boyfriend’s high-risk-related impaired heart valve, he, living on the other side of the city, me, seeing that side of the city from my window. Oh, and me pretending he is my pillow, my blanket, and my mattress.

David Vasquez (Medellín, Colombia)

The other side of the city, where my boyfriend lives.

* * *

Essential Shopper

Today’s a red letter day. A trip to Lidl! There’s a kind of courtly dance being performed spontaneously in the aisles, people politely keeping two meters apart. The middle aisle has a special poignancy. Oh the illicit pleasure, the lingering gaze over non-essential items! Sofa throws, car washing gloves, planters, marble runs, thermal leggings, gardening trugs, hand blenders. What is in my trolley? A nuclear bunker’s worth of courgettes, wine, and smoked salmon. A Himalayan salt lamp, a set of storage baskets, and two pairs of fluffy socks. It felt good. These are all things we need in lockdown, yes?

Tessa Gordziejko (Hebden Bridge, United Kingdom)

A supermarket can make you giddy.

* * *

A Cat

There is no greater enjoyer of a home, no more fanatic champion of laziness, no more eager and voracious glutton (though often uninvited), than a cat.

There were times when we mocked the cat’s capacity for sloth and gluttony, when we glorified the resilience of the human spirit, the ability to move, work, love, feel, and exist towards self-actualization. These are key skills of a domesticated dog, yet to go out every day is more or less frowned upon now, as is peeing on fire hydrants.

So, teach us, cat, your mysterious ways.

Alex Wakim (Wichita, Kansas)

The King.

* * *

Minimal Distance

I was walking on the grass, bored of the same path through the manicured wildness. I cut the corner and it surprised her—not a predictable trajectory. We went left and right, trying to anticipate the other. We bounced side to side for a brief while and I smiled, acknowledging the awkwardness, expressing gratitude for her care for the space between us. The tension broke, we found a way through and past and I wondered, as I walked on, what little or large stresses had made her face so hard until it broke into the warm smile that answered mine.

Zosia Dowmunt (Cardiff, Wales)

Roath Park, April 6, 2020.


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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