It was hard for Stella to follow the fight, since 3, 4 people might be talking almost at once. Not that she really wanted to follow it. All she wanted was a peaceful meeting for the first time since spring of 2020. Still, she heard plenty of bits and pieces.
“It’s now been fourteen months of ‘two weeks to flatten the curve!’”
“If you’d social distanced properly, it might be different!”
“I’d like to move to a state where they are fully reopening!”
“...get your vaccine!”
“...glad I live in a state where they take COVID seriously!”
And on and on and on and on and on and on.
At some point, Gary, the “birthday boy” (as everyone had joked earlier), turned beet red and then logged off. Stella had no idea what he wanted for his birthday, but she doubted it was being yelled at for his opinion of face masks.
Finally, Amy, the host, muted them all. “I think this has gone long enough. I’m ending this meeting.” Then: “You all know, even if you don’t admit it, that I’m right!”
And with that, the screen went dark. “Thank God it’s over,” Stella muttered. What had happened to her family? They had once been so close and gotten along so well. Sure, they had differences, but it was nothing—nothing!—like this, until 2020 when COVID hit. Even the Trump presidency was less divisive!
She poured a glass of sparkling wine. The wine was to celebrate Gary’s birthday. Now she welcomed it as a reward for surviving the family screaming match.
Her cell phone dinged. It was a message from Paul, her cousin: “YOU SAID NOTHING. THAT’S THE SAME AS HELPING THE OTHER SIDE!!!!”
She thought of her warring family. And she began crying.