This story is by rossriter and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“MY 2020 COVID EPIPHANY”
[All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Coronavirus]
People who need people,
Are the luckiest people, in the world…
With one person, one very special person
A feeling deep in your soul
Says you were half, now you’re whole
No more hunger and thirst
But first, be a person who needs people”*
*Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl–1978
Day 1 of Quarantine—
My doorbell rang. Neighbor Donny, with a box in his hands: “Just keep this for me, I will explain later,” as he ran off! I set it down on floor.
[Narcissistic tirade at two, five year old Chihuahuas:]
“Well this really sucks! February 29, 2020, NM Governor issues: “stay at home” Order. Had been home working, offsite for law firm. NOW I can’t go anywhere, or do anything, golf, tennis, volleyball, or other healthy exercise!”
“YOU can’t do this to me! It’s NOT fair! Six months AWAY from retirement, after 45 years in the business-law trenches!; an abominable time to cause me to change my plans! I want my “old normal” back. I want it back NOW!”
“This might be OK, if I were not an anal-compulsive, planner. These were to have been the BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE! Cannot take that away from me now! Please, whomever is listening above, you can NOT DO THIS!”
[ONE DEEP BREATH] “Keeping all this anger inside me takes SO MUCH energy! I need a nap at noon and one at 5 pm, still sleepy at bedtime. I am SLEEPING MY LIFE AWAY, while a flu-like virus has the entire WORLD paralyzed/perplexed. Ultimate Force, stop this insanity please!”
Day 30 of Quarantine—
I always thought the end (my end) would be a nuclear attack on the Pentagon, from North Korea. Now bored, I open Donny’s “package.” Tightly wrapped, a large metal handgun inside the box. NO CLUE why he gave it to me, an avowed pacifist!
This is NOT how the PLAN was supposed to work, just six months away from “R Day,” the day when all of those imbecilic Judges were to have to stopped tormenting me, and all those moronic clients were to have stopped criticizing ME for all the wrong decisions by those Judges!
The gyms (volleyball), tennis courts, golf courses all been closed for 30 days now. My body is a wreck. Falling apart at the seams. Can only SLEEP. No interest in food, even though am great cook. Drinking fluids, to keep my joints lubricated.
Can’t listen to TV reporters depressing me with “latest” on virus; its raging spread from China to world. Am in “serious risk” population, due to age, labeled as perhaps having “underlying conditions.”
[Back to Dogs:] “Dreams/fantasies all gone now. Hoped to retire, relax, meet lady of my dreams, become “lovers,” and recall the feeling deep in my soul; stop feeling like half, and soon become whole. But first, I have to be a person who needs people, dammit! Not likely in my deteriorated state, I seldom bath and wear same clothes for days. I am invisible to all but dogs.”
“Despite 30+ years therapy, am bereft of sanity. “Glory” days ahead, seem like “trick” by universe. After endless, dedicated work, explosion of a 20 year marriage by an infidel, and subsequent 26 year rebuilding of psyche, am left with catastrophic conditions, chronic depression. I have only 3 “M” words to describe this descent into Hades: am victim of malevolent, malicious, malignant, course toward deterioration, and/or death.
Limit myself news 30 minutes a day. Switch channels compulsively. All have same, discouraging, news. Dr. Fauci, my hero, all else marble-mouthed, sycophants, only wanting to hear their voices. I turn away and shudder.
Morbid fascination…the gun like a toy, but heavy. If extended it outward, arms tremble, could not hold it still. Not sure how long I will be custodian. Dreams of shooting, hoping explosive noise awakens me from restorative slumber, only to find my warm, fuzzy, cozy normal. Put it away in the freezer, so no one might see it. Just like I my dreams are on ice, now, also.
With the virus’ appearance, many people started behaving badly. Stupid behavior, irrational, selfish, narcissistic behaviors. My clients and my clients’ opponents also. Stupid-20 will probably be the next virus to try to ruin my retirement.
Day 60 of Quarantine—
I cannot even get out of bed in the morning. Depression, when mixed with 45 years of jumping out of bed and throwing on a 3-piece suit with matching vest, really wears on a lawyer. The WORST is I never know what day it is! Time either stands still, or races compulsively out of control.
I always read the obituaries first when I run out to get the daily rag. Did you know that many persons are now living well into their 80s and even some into their 90s. I don’t have a goal, except to keep up my health/exercise, as long as I am around.
Donny called said “getting a divorce” and afraid that the “ex” would shoot him, if she found gun. Told me not to play with it.
All politicians dissembling, to gain advantage from Coronavirus. People everywhere dying, 100,000 in USA already.
My IRA went down 33% first day. Warned to not expect recovery, in my “lifetime.” May have to work several more years now, in order to finish, and be “ok, that is if there ever is a new ‘ok.”
I have been half, trying to become whole, for 18 months now. My last partner wandered off, and it was good timing for both of us, though our two years together seemed ideal.
Searching for new partner, former GF–nurse, at assisted living facility, came knocking, at what would normally have been the perfect time. But virus raced rabidly throughout senior homes. Like virulent, lightning bolt, accompanied by vicious flood of mortality, killing all in its wake. To my great dismay, now fraught with extreme risk to first responders, like her.
Had not seen her since start of quarantine. Made frantic, pent-up love on our first date back, quenching our desperate, skin-hunger. Then she was gone; with her absence, am left without any sense of humanity/touch.
Her sudden, mystical, astonishing, reappearance was a breath of fresh air, before morbidity returned, clouds darkened, ominously, and sense of final foreboding, ultimate demise, overwhelmed me again.
There is hunger and thirst again…with loneliness/sadness/feelings of wanting more, tears, before I depart.
Lots of neighborhood violent crime now: armed, home-invasions, car-jackings, etc. Gun “around,” brought false hope/security; at least vision of ability to respond, but don’t know how to use it.
Bad news/Good News Report: Stay at home Order meant have not seen best friends or exercise buddies for three months now. Text/email, only. Phone seems too intimate for the terror/trepidation that is predominant in my being. Two adult children here are safe, but distant, due to fatalism (mine) and separation anxiety (theirs).
Most uplifting moments are neighborhood walks with dogs, who though diminutive, light up the countenance of all who view them, and my ever-present arm waving/beaming smile, brings some comfort, to me and to those we encounter. All smile broadly and mouth “cute!” and wave back. My only wish–that they were referring to ME.
Day 90 of Quarantine—
Others slowly return to offices. My morbidity demands I stay home. Anger/angst/antipathetic, dismay regarding what my new “normal” will be like, causes despair/overwhelming, grievous sorrow, more tears.
Violent, life-long opponent of narcissism, having suffered younger brother (could have invented that word) and ex-wife (who gave new meaning to it).
Political climate past few years bred fantasies about becoming ex-patriot til China, intentionally, or negligently poisoned globe. Now, no place to run away/hide.
Curiosity ravenous. Took gun, in package, to local gun store, which has “practice” facilities in rear. Inquired, naively, how much it would cost for me to shoot the gun “a few” times. Clerk laughed deprecatingly, and retorted LOUDLY, so everyone in store would hear: “we don’t charge you for each round you shoot, sir, we charge you for the TIME that you use the range!”
I slunk back home, feeling despondent/hopeless. My new “toy” humiliated me. Could not bear the dejection, anymore. Hugged both dogs and cat and closed them in my bathroom.
Overwrought…at my spiritual emptiness. Called Donny, no answer. Felt empty. Spiritually bankrupt.
Ripped open box. Placed gun-barrel on chest, aimed at me.
In a flash of rage, I pulled trigger.
Deafening sound of metal-on-metal, but felt nothing.
Forgot to turn “off” the safety!
Began hyperventilating in worst panic attack ever, collapsing in heap on floor.
Lay there trembling uncontrollably, catatonic, blank expression.
Having “dodged a bullet,” I swore repentantly, to immediately restructure my life, so as to TRY to “first be a person who needs people….”
Finally, I texted my former GF, begging for another date…, and then, I let the dogs out.