So many cases! How many died? Recovered? News headlines grab my eyes. Reporters drown my ears. Too much information to absorb. How many dead now? How’s my country doing? Yours? Are we going to beat this thing? What, self-hibernation? “No,” he says. “Self-isolation. Grocery stores and pharmacies remain open. We walk.” He’s right. But I’d rather hibernate. Got to give my head a shake. Forget this is happening. Social distancing? Isn’t that what the Internet does already? I turn the radio on. Music gets me moving. My voice joins in. He puts on a mask and steps outside.
The lady was somewhat nervous as she stood, for the very first time in her life, before the judge in a Texas courtroom.
“The charge is murder, how do you plead?” asked the judge.
“Not guilty, your honor. It was self defense. He attacked me, took my purse and was attempting to rape me.”
“But ma’am you shot the man six times. Can you explain to the court why you shot him six times?” the judge asked.
“Well your honor, when I pulled the trigger for the seventh time, it just went ‘click’.”
Crisis? What crisis? We're the best prepared country in the world for any crisis... no country is as prepared for any crisis as we are... I should know, I'm the best person in the world at dealing with a crisis... people tell me all the time that I'm great in a crisis... I can perform miracles... no one has ever performed as many miracles... I hold the record for performing miracles... people talk about a guy a couple of thousand years ago but I beat his record... everyone knows I'm the best stone-roller in the world... I hold the record...
The massive punch came out of nowhere.
I was nine-years-old at the time, throwing a sponge ball against the wall when I felt a knuckled force in the pit of my stomach.
I instantly dropped to my knees, gasping for air.
My head spun in confusion, wondering why this random act of hostility could happen.
A hulking man stood over me. He had blurry facial features and a strange aura. He said in a muffled voice, “You were just in the way of my anger, kid. If it weren’t you, it would have been another person who crossed my path.”
It’s strange the things you get used to. Our ancestors lived together as families in the same house. I can’t imagine how that must have felt. Self-isolation was necessary a thousand years ago but now it’s the norm. Who needs another person messing up the house touching things?
We have the internet and video calling to keep in touch.
Our ancestors would say we’re agoraphobic but the planet has flourished.
Babies conceived in test-tubes; no physical contact. Much more acceptable, but nobody wants to go outside so we’re slowly dying out.
Sadly, nobody will read this.
I’m alone now.
She liked to rub his bald head as he leant to kiss her goodnight. "Do you polish your head, Daddy?" she asked. He laughed. "No, darling," he said, unconsciously shifting her hand to his unshaven cheeks.
The goodnight kiss, as always, offered a moment for reflection. For guilt. The extra glass of wine in place of the bedtime story. Watching football in place of helping with homework. His absence in place of his presence.
"No, Daddy, that's rough," she said, retracting her hand from his prickly cheeks. He felt the soft hand return to his head. "I prefer the smooth."
“Who are you?” I ask the strange form floating above me.
“I’m the new virus. Thought of seeking your permission before entering you.”
“That means sure death, doesn’t it?”
“Almost. And suffering for a few days. But, as a special case, I’ll give you an option. Live another twenty-odd years with old-age ailments, become a burden to your loved ones, get neglected, cursed and hated, praying fervently for a death that never comes.”
“Be my guest,” I shout before waking up in a cold sweat.
Melanie winced in pain s she opened the door then joined the growing throng in the medical centre waiting room.
“Tennis elbow,” diagnosed the doctor when her name was finally called. The number of reported cases escalated daily as the public, in their efforts to avoid handshakes and hugs, contorted and touched elbows as a new form of greeting.
“Stay home and rest for fourteen days,” said the doctor, scribbling a medical certificate for work.
Thus Melanie avoided COVID-19.
Croqueted socks and thick woollen knitted jumpers. Baggy knickers and comfy trousers. Summer dresses, frilly blouses, bags made from denim patchwork. Elastic scrunchies, pinafores, flared trousers; who doesn’t love the 70’s vibe?
All these pretty creations, handmade with love.
Across the street, the church fills with people in black. If only she could show them her hatred for black.
What if that first person, who tested positive for the virus, hadn't come into your country?
I wouldn't be wearing latex gloves to the grocery store at the crack of dawn. Wouldn't have a face mask in my pocket, not to rob the cashier, but to keep the virus from thinning the planet. Wouldn't be popping nerve pills to silence the consent warnings coming from the government and be feverishly washing my hands with soap and water for twenty seconds while singing happy birthday.
Wouldn't be staying six feet away from others to avoid being buried six feet underground.
Clouds shrouded the Earth. No one had seen the sun for more than a year, and no one knew why.
Crops failed, the air grew still and people panicked.
“Why is everyone so upset?” a little girl asked her mother.
“The sun has gone out,” she said.
The girl went outside, lay down in the grass and looked up. She remembered the sun and how warm it felt on her face. Then she glimpsed it behind the clouds.
“I knew you were there,” she whispered with a smile.
The sky cleared, and the sun shone down and warmed the Earth.
He didn't know what had given him the nostalgic adrenaline rush. Was it sneaking past the guards to chill at the edge of the Pryce Tower rooftop? Or was it her fingers wrapping themselves around his? Breaking rules, heights, love— they were all equally scary.
"Your city is beautiful." his beloved said, having no regrets of running away with him. “Where’s your home?”
"There." he replied, pointing his shaky finger towards a faint glow in Doña Vicenta.
"I can see mine too." she giggled, pointing to a light above the Davao horizon. The star twinkled brightly in the midnight sky.
It came out of nowhere. It flashed in the faint moonlight, glinting like its wielder’s eyes. Both lethally cruel. The knife sank into my soft flesh.
He stood there, looking. Admiring his work.
I was frozen. Breathless. Ice crept up my chest, burning, burning. My legs staggered backwards. My knees abandoned ship and hit the pavement.
The world echoed with my heartbeat. A muffled drum. I was holding onto the hilt. Or maybe I wasn’t. I couldn’t feel its slick weight anymore.
I looked up. Alone. The streetlight dimmed. All went black. I sighed.
The red letters said:
Ronald MacDee would sneak out whenever his wife worked the evening shift. What was he doing?
He was caught in the act one night when his wife unexpectedly arrived home early. He was guilty!
Gingerly handling the evidence, Mrs. MacDee commented that his red-head girlfriend, Wendy, needed a new look-she was getting too old for pigtails. His wife then announced that she would be dining with a King the following night.
With a clown-like grin, Mr. MacDee suggested a double date.
She scoffed, "No. My little friend, Caesar, doesn't welcome beefy types."
They say I have a few weeks left. A month, if I’m lucky. It’s okay; I’m at peace with it. I’m ready.
At least I can plan my send-off. Many don’t get that luxury. I’ve chosen the flowers already, red roses and white lilies, a classic combination. The funeral of a lifelong florist demands the best arrangements.
I always assumed burial or cremation were the only options, but fortunately there are others these days. I want the Eden Project.
Make me compost, make me worm food. My whole life I’ve taken from the flowers. It’s time to give something back.
Lilian wrote beautiful poetry. She sat in her window seat at night with the lights turned low while everyone slept.
Lilian grew up in a house where only her parents could express feelings. For Lilian, poetry was a source of strength and courage. If her mother found out, however, she’d shame her for penning words that dance and sing on the pages. She feared her mother would take her verse, invading her privacy, and sharing her soul with mocking strangers. So, she hid her poetry in a location where no one could find it, a secret place in her heart.
Do you remember …? I’m tempted to ask the glossy-haired young woman reflected in the train’s window across the aisle from me, her clear eyes aglow with life; skin smooth.
But I turn away with a sardonic smile. …to journey through my own recollections of what used to be.
Pulling into the station I take a lingering glance at the window across the aisle before alighting onto the platform.
The train’s softly lit interior had turned back time, reflecting the remnants of my youth… not this watery-eyed reality with grey-spattered hair and a crow’s feet road map.
'Sabrina, can you take out the recycling on your way to college please?' asked her mother.
'You do know that only a small percentage is actually recycled mum, the majority goes to landfill,' answered Sabrina.
'No, I never knew - I thought I was helping to save the planet,' replied mum.
'Maybe it's already too late,' said Sabrina, sadly.
Young Dakka brushed the sand from his feet, took a deep breath, and climbed the leaning coconut palm. His calloused hands and feet gripping the striated trunk like magnets on steel. His gaze focused on the top, so far away. His thoughts reaching into the heavens, with the sorrow that consumed him.
Pushing his head among the leafy branches, he locked his knees on the trunk, extended one arm, and struggled to reach the one remaining fruit. It was farther out, but not as large or heavy as the one he dropped yesterday.
The one that killed his aged grandmother.
Their only difference was food.
He lived to eat and she ate to live. By Sunday morning he was planning the menu for Thursday. She liked a single plate of food for dinner. He loved multi-course meals.
She liked good food, but was equally happy with a plate of pasta.
To him every day should be a gourmet’s delight.
They both loved good restaurants.
Abnormally upbeat, his fingers are pure magic on the piano when Lenny sings. His longtime friend, Miles, plays tenor saxophone alongside him. The old Reno Club with its blinking neon lights outside, and black checkered floors inside. Customers love the curved purple velvet-covered booths around the tables.
“A genius,” his father brags. “Lenny’s a scrupulous songwriter in everything he writes.”
But he pays the price from extreme manic up for days, to dull and lifeless staying in his low-rent apartment for weeks. He returns to the jazz club, the mood’s upbeat. Miles joins in; It’s a match made in heaven
🎶“Just a hunk, a hunk of burning love
Just a hunk, a hunk of burning love
Just a hunk, a hunk of burning love” 🎶
“Sally, stop it!”
🎶“Just a… “🎶
“Stop it now!!! Do you even know what you’re singing? Mother are you playing records for Sally again?”
“Sure I know, it’s the king.”
“Elvis, yes. But do you know what a hunk of burning love is?”
“No but I like to sing it, and grandma said that’s what he was.”
“Well he sure was that. Please, try to learn some more verses.”
Little Sally went looking for Grandma.
Susanne opened the lid of a dusty wooden chest. “What’s this?” she asked her mother.
Miriam smiled. “Oh, that’s the silver-plated flatware I bought when I started my first teaching job. It was on lay-away for several months, and I was thrilled to bring it home at last.”
“Stores allowed you to make payments on an expensive item, and when it was paid for, you could take it home. There were no credit cards in those days. Sadly, today we have mostly lost the experience of eager anticipation, followed by the joy of finally receiving a hard-earned reward.”
"Aren't you going to ask me how my afternoon was?" she asked me. The question came with a guilty smile.
We were sitting at the dinner table, each of us picking over our chicken risottos.
"No," I replied.
I didn't look up. I didn't need to see her expression. I wanted to hear what she would say next.
I knew where she'd been that afternoon; I could already guess how it really was. I was with her. So to tell the truth, I knew perfectly well.
The only question that remained was: would she like any more later?
“You know, of course, that denial is the worst form of delay,” Jerry opined as friend Josie described her approach to enjoying desserts.
Eat warm immediately: blackberry and sweet potato pie. Save for breakfast or lunch: carrot and banana cake. Freeze for later: chocolate chip cookies, brownies.
“You forgot ice cream,” he laughed.
“No I didn’t,” she said, handing him a three-scoop cone.
“Sometimes,” Josie smiled, “delay is the worst form of denial.”