Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘Unfamiliar scenes of sadness and joy’

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

Hogans and Handkerchiefs

I cut 9″ x 12″ cotton first. 6″ x 9″ mesh next. 7″ elastic for the ear-loops. I press the interfacing onto marginally-precise rectangles Sarah will sew into masks on her late grandmother’s Singer. To the Navajo Nation today, we mail twenty masks of nineteenth-century design. We’ll send more tomorrow, and in two days, and on for however long, heartened and determined yet dejected and guilt-ridden too. Our family’s needs and wants are easily obtainable nearby, immeasurably more accessible than the patchwork roadside convenience store/gas station/trading posts that sustain most Reservation towns. It’s clear: hogans and handkerchiefs present little resistance to viruses, obduracy, and neglect.

— Michael Silver (Phoenix, Arizona)

The current US supply chain for PPE.

* * *

Drive-by Puppet Show

My family created a drive-by puppet show, lip syncing to the song “I Will Survive.” We hung red curtains over the side windows of our car, drove around to friends’ houses, texted them to come out onto their porches, cranked up the music, and let the puppets do their thing! Then we had a short visit. There is something about seeing people in person, even in a driveway and at a distance, that’s thrilling.

— Denise Kenney (Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada)

Drive-by puppet shows.

* * *

I’m Not Floating

These days the litter seems braver than me. The way it floats outdoors, boasting of its freedom, whilst I sit on the other side of a glass window and watch with fear. There’s been more of it lately. Litter. Gloves, crisp packets, masks, bottles. I wonder where it all came from? From brave souls working on the frontlines terrified, or from the rule-breakers? Either way, part of me is jealous. Jealous that even with a daily exercise allowance there are days I can’t make my feet step out of the front door, and the litter floats on.

— Chloe Lunn (Wales, United Kingdom)

An abandoned can dropped by a tree I pass when I brave a walk.

* * *

Sadness and Joy

I wander through the neighborhood park. As I wind down the path, I come across a picnic table wrapped in yellow tape looking like the remnant of a forgotten crime scene. Further down the way, a playground is similarly treated with a homicide-like barrier, warning children to stay away. Grim reminders of our current situation assault my sensibility. I wander down a bit further and I begin to hear the soft murmur of music. As I approach, I see a young man playing a clarinet in the park. Lovely. The pandemic brings unfamiliar scenes of sadness and joy.

— Wanda Kolomyjec (Phoenix, Arizona)

Sunday morning at the children’s playground.


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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