Shadows
What the hell was THAT?!

Hyper-paranoia

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How many firsts do you remember? In your life, I mean. Your entire life. And how many lasts? Don't think too hard about it; this sort of thing can smack your head into the pavement and leave you with nothing less than a mild concussion.

Given the sheer quantity of so many things collected in handfuls over the last six weeks you'd think I'd have seen it coming.

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My first was just after Thanksgiving and I photographed the results, two-finger typed: on my way home. I drove north and forgot it entirely. My second was December 30, 2021 at 10:20 AM (because the photo tells me so) and that's the one that landed. The pink and white litmus test with its six inch swab is on the dash and I'm reminding myself to breathe because I'm not moving because that THING isn't supposed to move for an entire fifteen minutes. I've forgotten to leave the engine running and there's nothing I can do about it. The dash is not entirely flat and the obscenely shiny cardboard with the Yes or No box will spin off its perch and land, suspect, in my lap. I remind myself to breathe and try not to watch but it's still not real. Not entirely.

It got real on Monday. I think. The brain fog hasn't lifted and the nausea, the first sign of pregnant, is screaming: IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, because I don't want to think about the other thing. If I hadn't googled symptoms, just to see if anything had changed, I could have talked myself off the ledge but I wasn't in a car. I was in my office with a door and half a hallway between my people and a scythe and I could not breathe. If I breathed, I might kill them.

If I so much as breathed, I might kill them.

So I stuck a bunch of sticks up my nose and one down my throat (ended badly) and tried to think about the work I could be doing if I could convince my brain to come back in the room. It stayed outside. It didn't want to die. I canceled a dentist appointment and a fiddle lesson. If I breathed, I might kill them. 

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That's the thing, right? We're damn tired. Collectively we seem to have dropped the lifelines and as long as we don't have to look too closely we begin to carry on. Small children throw blankets over their heads and gleefully proclaim: You can't see me! Oh, but I can. I see you and I see the big red X spray painted onto the backs of too many people to count.

We've stopped counting and as the wave of Omicron sweeps the cities, splashes into the mountains and across the plains; even as the ICU beds reach or exceed capacity, we close our eyes. Maybe it's just too much. I understand too much but that doesn't change the fear, latent or otherwise.

Hyperbole. Fuck you, it's not. 

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