Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘Living somewhere in the machine’

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

A Fading Soul

The woods have always been a sacred place in my mind. But when I traverse the muddy trail, the faint reek covers the surroundings with an ominous veil. Taking a more brisk pace, I hope that the muddy ground won’t suck me into the earth. Would I go through the center of the globe and appear at the other side of the world? Life is an endless loop, with ups and downs. Indifferent people catch up from behind and fade away. The verdant May leaves shed their colors like dried up paint.

— Tianhai (Tony) Zhou (Haining, Zhejiang, China)

This photo was taken in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, USA.

* * *

The Truth

So many people reevaluating, revisiting old memories, better times. But why? And why now? So many stories in the news of life and death every day. Suddenly it seems like the line separating life from death is getting closer and closer. What’s going on? It’s a pandemic, they say, a virus. But no, that’s not all that’s going on, that’s just what’s happening. Open your eyes. Keep your distance so you can get closer. Cover up, cover up – so that you can go inside! There… yeah, that’s what’s happening… see? Now… learn.

— Glenn Alterman (New York, New York)

When the light finally shines.

* * *

Deer Pandemic

In the past four months, global citizens have learned new habits: social distancing, washing hands, and wearing a mask. For me, this last protective habit turned out to be rewarding and exciting. During a pandemic, animals are sometimes abandoned or forgotten. Indeed, a local animal shelter needed money. Solution? The owner decided to make cute face masks for sale. So I bought one. By wearing this mask, a wounded deer is cared for and fed, making me proud to be part of something bigger. The mask was so successful, my whole family has one.

— Bebejabets Sophie Lapointe (Mascouche, Québec, Canada)

What pandemic? Acrylic paper, 10.5 cm x 13.5 cm. Bebejabets Sophie Lapointe, 2020.

* * *

Becoming gradually “other”

I’m depriving my skin of material correspondence and withdrawing the ability to contact other bodies. My skin feels the loss. I envy the machine who can survive without touch. I video-call constantly: uploading myself, my eyes present, moving mouth and megapixel skin. I see other bodies, but not like I know them. Flickering, stuttering, fading. I’m becoming gradually “other.” I’m getting to know my computational personality. I’m feeding my electronic body. It exists without feeling, without pain, grief, or humor. I’m living somewhere in the machine, both here and there, existing in between multiple borders, staring at the unknown.

— Molly McAndrews (Plymouth, Devon, UK)

Living somewhere in the machine.


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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