Global Dodge Ball

Photo by Heorhii Heorhiichuk on

Because that’s what it feels like, doesn’t it? A ginormous game of dodge ball.

The game was on. Jess mentally prepared herself. Physically prepared herself. Then it was time, the clock started when the virus hit her area. Just one case at first. Then two. But Jess was ready, so ready. She had a bottle of hand sanitizer, plenty of meds, a bottle of Wild Turkey, and cans upon cans of food that will probably follow her into retirement.

To say Jess was excited to play the game is an overstatement; but, prepared, resolved to beat this virus- yes.

And like every game of dodge ball that Jess ever played, she was out in round one.

An international conference in Budapest got Jess before anything was locked down. Jess washed her her hands so often at the conference she no longer had fingerprints, but still came home sick.

Someone tested positive at the conference apparently, but not Jess. Jess couldn’t get a test. There weren’t enough to go around, and if you weren’t showing all the signs of the holy trinity of symptoms- fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, then you weren’t getting tested. So Jess was put in isolation, where she coughed and chronically slept and drank round after round of tea and honey for her sore throat.

“I mean, you were bound to get it one way or the other, it’s the six degrees of Kevin Bacon,” Liz, Jess’ sister, said while Facetiming Jess.

“I don’t think that theory applies here,” Jess answered back, holding the phone in one hand while she roamed around doing chores.

“Sure it does. You’re six degrees from anyone infected in China or Italy. That’s why I don’t order pizza or Chinese food.” Jess sensed that Liz, a long-time germophobe, was freaking out.

“But, I mean, I’m not going to get it,” Liz continued. “I wash my hands a lot, and if I have to touch my face I use an anti-viral tissue. I wear latex gloves and a mask when I go shopping. Oh, and I bought an Ozone germicidal cleaner that uses UV-C light to disinfect the house and my car.” Jess opened her mouth to answer back but Liz kept going, “Do you want me to send you any masks or gloves? I bought a fifty pack of both.”

“Nah, I’m good. I’m trying to be as hygienic as possible too, but I can’t hold a torch to you, it sounds like you can do surgery in your apartment.”

Jess watched as Liz shook her head in agreement and took a sip of her glass of wine. It was 9:30 am.

Liz looked at her watch and then downed the rest of her glass of wine. Liz was perpetually five minutes late for everything, so Jess wasn’t surpised when Liz hung up quickly to head into work. Unfortunately, Liz lost her primary income when she was laid off as a NYC bartender, but at her second job as a Taco Bell cashier, Liz was deemed an ‘essential’ employee. “Funny how just four weeks ago I was an ‘unskilled’ employee and now I’m ‘essential’, Liz said right before hanging up. Jess wondered about all the CEOs isolated in their mansions, were they thinking about all their ‘essential’ personnel right now? People who were living below the poverty line and yet risking their health by going into work everyday.

Jess took a long sip of her coffee and stood in the silence of her living room, just…thinking.

She thought she had only been standing there a moment, but realized it must have been longer when Nick’s heavy hand fell on her shoulder.

“Liz doing okay?” Nick asked.

Jess shrugged her shoulders.

“Don’t worry about it, I’m sure the government and the wealthy care about all of us. You’ll see,” Nick said, drinking his own glass of morning whiskey.

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