When the storm actually hit us, we had no idea. We were caught blind, as they say. Like a girl walking down the road with the vaguest sense of the possibility of a car crash, the vaguest knowledge that it might happen, it could happen, just like any tragedy could, hypothetically, creep up on you.
Our eyes still stunned when the car actually hurtled into us.
It happened in stages, which weren’t really stages at all, but signposts that should have warned us of what was to come. They didn’t. We refused to let them. Still do.
What else would you do when the unsafe air shifts around you, inside you, with every breath you take.
Something builds up in us.
Sudden, inexplicable rages, sadness, longing for things we never knew we loved. We feel vague pains, suffocations.
Search for sickness, find only ourselves, hands fumbling, the shake in our limbs, the quickening of breath.
Without space, whatever love we knew coils into hatred. We lash out, then withdraw, cycling beyond ourselves. I’m not panicking, we say, panicking. Like the phrase turn on each other.
Look at us.
How we have shifted, snaked our bodies around uncertain fears, wound ourselves into knots. Our lives tied closer than ever: we could share a body, and we have never felt so alone.
It is so easy too.
And yet, through all of this, we must love and we must eat.
I read somewhere that the word disaster means the stars are coming apart. In the comments section of a Youtube video on the death count, someone says, with inexplicable desperation: and doesn’t karma have anything to do with this? Dis-aster.
Look at us.
Broken into our isolated fragments, which must- against all reason- add up to be more than its whole.
After all, haven’t we been taught now that everything, everything passes. Look at us. How fragile we are, how delicate our bones. How flimsy our convictions. Haven’t we felt the impossibility of our endlessness, the readiness of our fear.
And through all of this, haven’t we known an endless, unthinking capacity for kindness, in just a single nod, a hint of a smile through shadowed, weary eyes. Mild, unassuming conversation. Concern warmer than it should be.
Look at us. We’ll watch the streets empty and yawning, make jokes about the end of the world while trying to forget what we’re afraid of. To forget we’re afraid at all.
Resent the paranoia we deny, binge-watch our TV shows, snuggle up with a book at night to unbearable normalcy. First the pre-call messages, then the curfews, the lockdowns. Worry about the milk, the food, search up home workout videos, impulsively, irrationally pay for six tubes of lip balm.
Our masked faces terrifyingly familiar as we edge away from our bodies, which have become dangerous to us.
Already, we have settled.
We know our catastrophe and sing.
The future is something alive, breathing, exquisitely mortal.
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