Brian has worked as a cook, a carpenter, a technical writer, a computer programmer and a university lecturer. His work has been published in ‘The Helix’ Journal of Central Connecticut State University and JAAM: Just Another Art Movement from Victoria University of Welllington. He currently occupies himself with writing, editing, and bicycle repair.
Ray got sick a couple of days before lockdown. He’s three and goes to day-care and three-year-olds at day-care get sick. The manager had been sick a week before, so I figured that was it. I tracked three days behind Ray, same sick as him.
It’s not the virus.
Overnight you’d hear him sniffle and cough. Daytime he’d have a bit of a fever, maybe a short nap after lunch. Three days later, same for me. Overnight, I'd wake and these thoughts would arrive and take a seat and listen to each other calmly for a while, but then they’d interrupt one another and separate from my volition and suddenly a cacophony, competing to keep me awake, and I’ve been lying here two hours now arguing silently, and I’m wheezing again.
There’s no way it’s the virus. It’s just the dust from the house painters. Don’t panic.
The virus comes with breathing problems, reports say. Shortness of breath. But we’re already locked down and won’t see anyone for a month so whatever this is it’ll pass before we’re unlocked; it doesn’t matter. The virus doesn’t matter. I can breathe. Test. Yes, I can breathe.
Today the weather is fine and the kids and I are out in the reserve. The gates are locked, the park is closed except for those lucky residents of The Independent Republic of Cambria who have direct access; we took possession over lockdown. We’re flitting around the stone paths hunting beautiful specimens of flora; berries and seeds and we built a secret nest to hide them and it’s a regular natural history museum by now, for the children to return to and add to but it suddenly occurs to me that I’m touching things and I was awake wheezing again last night.
Could be the virus, couldn’t it?
Reports say kids are usually asymptomatic. Maybe Charlie, age ten, has it too. Maybe Tanya has it. Someone at her work had it. And I always get everything the kids get, since I spend the most time with them, the at-home dad. Focus: it’s lunchtime and today I made chicken nuggets, my home-made ones are one of my most popular dishes with the kids. I’ll add spaghetti and I drizzle a pizza sauce I’d made over their plates and we’ll make pizza tomorrow. This is good; keeps my mind busy.
Home for lunch and I’m not hungry today. Could be the fever again suppressing my appetite. Did Ray have a fever three days ago. I check my notes – I’ve been keeping notes on both of us, our symptoms, times we feel good and times we feel bad. Keeps me from losing track in case I need to say what happened in case in case in case in case. Keeps my mind busy. Have to keep busy. Should get tested.
But I don’t meet the criteria for a test.
Never mind. It’s not a fever: it’s panic. Today I read the world news and, again, a hundred died where I was born and today I can’t smell anything (write it down), but I had the same thing after sinus surgery last year, so that’s not so strange. Is it? I sniff things around the house. Nothing. Panic. Should I get tested?
Thought: they should broaden the criteria or we’ll never get out of level four.
Thursday: Ray’s okay now. I’ll be okay within three days. Should be anyway.
Friday: text from step sister. Mom in hospital. Seventy five dead back home in Connecticut. Finally flattening.
No symptoms for a while. No fever. No panic today.
A week of the same. The same distractions. A week of the same. No symptoms. Every day the same. The same news. The same death tolls overseas.
Sunday: text from step sister: Pick up your phone.
Later they determine the virus was a contributing factor and we’ll still be at level three when they have the funeral next Monday, nine thousand miles from home.
Only fifty eight died today.