Reader-submitted stories of the COVID-19 pandemic, in no more than 100 words. Read past stories here. Submit your own here.
Letters to my Mother
It occurred to me early on in this saga that I might never see her again. And if I do, maybe she will no longer recognize me. She’s really been gone a long time now, with little memory left except of her life as a young girl, a life that began shortly after the 1918 pandemic. Now, she, who was a nurse, is annoyed at a health crisis she cannot comprehend. No phone calls, she is deaf. No visits, so I write long rambling letters. And I bake her cookies. I can think of nothing else to do.
— Jeanne Egasse (Santa Ana, California)
* * *
I could tell stories to the boldly staring swallows on my deck: how I’ve kept cats away from their ancestors’ nests, scrubbed the ancestors’ droppings from under the houseboat eaves many summers, awoken with swallow babies peeping outside my bedroom window so early in the morning my eyes couldn’t remember how to open, but they don’t care. They stare at me, like this one, as if I am nothing, as if they’ll go on and on building nests and laying eggs, and I won’t go on and on, and this is true so I shut up and perform my services.
— Andrea Carlisle (Portland, Oregon)
* * *
Bushels of orange, yellow, and pink geraniums lift their heads towards the sun by the side of the grocery store. Behind me the line wraps the corner. Every face is covered by swaths of colorful fabric, but bright designs can’t mask the defeat in their eyes. We trudge forward, like strange soldiers. We have rules, spoken and unspoken. Six feet apart, eyes ahead, and absolutely no talking. No one feels like talking much anymore. The cloth bandana around my face traps my warm breath, and my upper lip begins to sweat. I want to smell the flowers.
— Sydnie Leigh (San Diego, California)
* * *
I’m definitely not blinking enough. I love teleporting into work meetings – not worrying about wielding legs and arms through space to sit in a new chair in a new room. But, alas, I’m not blinking enough. Captivated by screens from morning to evening, it’s easy to forget about my body. I feel nonphysical. Then, a cold dog nose nudges my elbow, sending my mouse cursor flying across the screen. I blink, finally. I look down at a fuzzy face and expecting eyes. We both have bodies after all, and it’s time to go outside and soak in the sun.
— Erica Bender (San Diego, California)
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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