A/N: Long time no see, I guess. I'm going to try to submit this to an anthology by the end of this month as a short personal narrative, so your feedback is really appreciated!
There’s a lot of numbers - an ocean - whether it be the misleading death toll, the hours healthcare workers spend on the front lines, or the cost of hand sanitizer. This is all I see as I read the news and all I hear as my mom reads off the headlines of the day. It feels like you’re stranded on an island, unable to swim.
Yet I am safe at home. Both my parents are with me, working in their offices while I attend to my schoolwork, dawdle off, or paint something new. It’s like a permanent state of weekend, suspended between returning to normal life and descending into something far, far worse.
Welcome to the pandemic of the century. Covid-19, also called coronavirus, takes thousands of lives each day by drowning them in their own bodies. And somehow, I’m living through it. Living through it comfortably as other people suffer and wither away.
I try to ignore Mom’s comments about the homemade mask she’s making, but I can’t help but pay attention and learn. You fold a third of the handkerchief up to the middle, and you fold the rest downward. Flip it over. Fold some more. Then there’s the attachment of the hair ties that I don’t quite seem to get, but Mom does. She makes it, and says she’s ordering more good-quality handkerchiefs online. I smile and go back to my phone.
There’s more things to scroll by - an elderly Asian man getting harassed and beaten on the streets. (It’s not like I’m in fact Chinese, and won’t worry about this at all.) Spring breakers refusing to go home although they’ll infect hundreds. Western and Eastern media condemning or praising the use of masks. And of course, my friends sharing TikToks, some with coronavirus jokes. All of this is regular now, part of a routine struggling to stay in existence. It’s frustrating - why does this seem so normal? Why are we trapped in a state of panic, locked in calm?
My eyes hurt. My screen time has totaled over eight hours again, all from a sad culmination of Zoom meetings, scrolling through social media, and wasting time. I waste precious time without my friends, spending it on lazy hobbies I know I won’t be able to keep up with later.My thoughts jam into one another, one shoving the other down as all of them struggle to surface. Productivity. Pandemic. Privilege. Panic. Is this the reality now, suspended in a chaos and calm that we won’t know the end of? We’re trapped in our bubbles, our lucky, entitled bubbles where we are not essential workers putting our lives and bodies on the line.
I sigh as I shut off my phone with a click. On our island, we’re stuck with numbers we don’t know how to make the best use of. Today, I’ll try to get some friends for a FaceTime session and we’ll talk about whatever little is going on in our lives. For now, before coronavirus floods us all, I can’t help but so ignorantly forget that it does not choose its prey.
When the sharks on the island are hungry, and you are too, shark and man meet in the sea. Yet I am safe at home.