Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘Citrus Capitalism’

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

Out from Inside

I am used to looking through these four walls, my mind running reels of a real life I can’t afford to slip into. I decide to start a master’s program online, because sometimes you have to borrow money to make money, right? I usually enjoy my own company, but long days alone leave me lonesome. I begin volunteering at a co-working space. I’m settling in. Then COVID-19 spreads. Again, I study from home, but this time I’m not lonely. From inside I used to see people meet in the park. Now nobody does, and I think, “welcome to my world.”

— Virginia Dowdell (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

Looking out from inside.

* * *

Sinking Into My Couch Cushions

All we have is time dripping from our window frames, pushing light across our rooms. I wake hoping for the news to say I can go out and play but fearing that news might come too soon. I watch friends thriving in the new normal, taking advantage of new opportunities as I sink further into my couch cushions, overwhelmed by the silence of former employers. I am numbed by Tiger Kings and Office reruns passing the time like a fast forward button stuck on an old VCR. Watching my future fall through the cracks like flour through a sifter.

— Perry Hunt (Chicago, Illinois)

Sinking into my couch cushions.

* * *

What I Remind Myself

When headlines on television screens are a universal sigh, you will try to live again. You will touch your steering wheel for the first time in months. It will radiate warmth. You will wonder if the entire sun is inside it. Your friends will be changed. They will hug you. You won’t remember the last time another body embraced you. You will try to live in moments, not hypotheticals. You will spark conversation with a young stranger one day. They will ask what you have learned from the pandemic. You will say you learned to live… to live well.

— Matthew Feinstein (Tracy, California)

A photo taken by my grandmother.

* * *

Citrus Capitalism

The corporations tell me they are “here for me” in “these difficult times.” They also urge me to buy “sassy WFH clothes” and celebratory outfits for the moment when we can finally “venture out again.” Meanwhile, I wander my neighborhood, picking citrus from overhanging trees. I trade a dozen grapefruits for a loaf of banana bread from my neighbor. I exchange a bag of oranges for some bath soaks from a friend. I pay for a face mask from a colleague with cash and a pile of lemons. I wonder what capitalism will look like when this is all over.

— Jennifer Sandlin (Tempe, Arizona)

Collecting citrus on a walk.

______________________________

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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