Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘Like Sisyphus, I’ve got nothing but time’

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

Morning Mourning

I wake to the sound of chainsaws. Outside my window, on the street behind our house, is a man in a tree, trimming it, but what is that in the street? Peeking over my back fence I see an old oak, illegally felled by our new neighbors, and burst into tears.

Nothing will bring the oak back. Nothing will bring back the lives we’ve lost, or my 95-year-old grandmother, who died alone because we couldn’t visit the nursing home.

I stand alone in my backyard, in my pajamas and the bright morning sun, and mourn for the world.

— Brooke St. George (Tempe, Arizona)

RIP, Lovely Oak.

* * *

Is it time?

Not too long ago, when this last guy first became President, my favorite (and only) sister called me. “Don’t laugh and don’t tell anyone I asked you this,” she said, “but do you think it’s time to move to Canada?” I said I didn’t think so. The idea scared me. It scared me to hear it come from her. Today I want to call her. My work is almost gone. The economy is crumbling. I want to ask her, “Is it time now? Australia, maybe?” But I know what she’ll say, “No, Sweetpea, we can’t. We can’t go anywhere.”

— Sarah Fisk (Berkeley, California)

My sister teaching me how to stick out my tongue, 1959.

* * *

Quarantine Artist Residency

In 2020, I lose gigs and gain more time. I make less money and more art. Instead of battling crowds on trains and buses, I sink in my couch of clouds and hungrily glean through books that weigh like rocks, neglected previously not by choice but by lack of time. Instead of making do with constant disruptions of life by necessity, I relish these long days where I indulge in nothing but my own art and research. I no longer remember what day of the week it is. This silky creative thread unbroken by errands and money. A quarantine artist residency.

— Michelle Kuen Suet Fung (Hong Kong)

Working from home is great.

* * *

Self-Isolating, with Trees

My cottage north of town borders wetlands protected by law (so far), and woods I love to walk. But Nature’s debris can trip you up. Especially if you focus on the canopies. (No crown shyness here. These trees don’t social distance.) Spent six days of quarantine clearing fallen branches. On the seventh, a storm threw down new ones. Like Sisyphus, I’ve got nothing but time. But hospitals are the new Hades. Health workers roll out one patient, Rona delivers two more. Me, I’m unemployed and high risk. All I can do is wander these woods. Five, six, pick up sticks.

— David Caudle (Putnam Valley, New York)

Sun through the pines with deer.


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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