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The Virus: Week Seven

Earlier installments of “The Virus” can be found here: Week One; Week Two; Week Three; Week Four; Week Five; Week Six

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The next day was Thursday, April 16. Her sister’s entire body aches and she is extremely tired, but no other symptoms yet. The blower motor in the HVAC system needed to be replaced. Fixing it would cost $700.

The day after that we go for an early evening constitutional. The streets have been empty for weeks but on this gentle Friday evening there are several gatherings of friends in driveways. Everyone is spread out in chairs, talking quietly and happily.

On the following day it’s time to go take care of my father-in-law again. They need food up there, and he keeps wandering off because he still think it’s 1983 outside. At the grocery store, several of us wait near the eggs and butter, trying not to get too close to the worker restocking the shelves. An old man and his wife are wearing masks and waiting to buy butter. From behind his mask he says to the worker, “Did you see what they did to Land O’ Lakes? They took her off the package! I thought she was cute.” The worker agrees. The old man’s wife waits quietly a few feet away. When we get back up to the house our niece and nephew are there, removing some remaining items of theirs. “You know China created it in a lab, right? You know that?” I tell him that I do not know that, because it isn’t true, and then I tell him the truth and he weighs both options in his mind. His wife corrects him: “No, I told you, someone from Harvard went over there and released it! Or it was an escaped lab bat. The Chinese brought the Harvard guy over and it escaped, or they released it.” 3AM Magazine publishes my essay, “Four Types of Fear.” There is a masked man on the street corner selling homemade masks.

The next day I tried not to think about it. I tried to work and clean and read and walk and not think about it.

Just a day later, the price of oil hits $0 a barrel, and then goes even lower. I tried to work or read or relax or spend time with people; for the second day in a row I tried not to think about it.

The next morning I woke up at 1:15am, then again at 2:40am, and then again at 3:30am. From 3:30 in the morning until 4:40 in the morning I stayed awake until finally falling to sleep for two hours.

On Wednesday, which was the 22nd day of April, I felt weak and sore and loopy from lack of sleep the past several nights. It was hard to focus on work. I kept typing the wrong words when writing my responses to my students. It’s been a week since my wife’s sister caught it, and so far it hasn’t gotten much better, but (the only thing that matters anymore) it also hasn’t yet gotten worse. The numbers of infected or dead keep climbing; but as of today, Wednesday, nobody we love has died. No parent or sibling or child or friend dear to us has died in the past seven weeks.

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