by Brittany McSorley
When my alarm wakes me, I am groggy. I don’t sleep well anymore, partially because it is the end of the world and partially because of the red wine I need to get through the end of the world. The cat, whom I love more than I’ve ever loved a human being, meows to make sure I’m alive, then quickly abandons me. Hers is the only companionship I crave, yet she is distant. She is disgusted with my neediness. I respect it.
After the cat’s departure, I turn to warily size up my phone. A familiar fear creeps into my chest as I wonder what new horrors await me on Gmail, Facebook, or Google News. What has happened while I’ve slept? Anything is possible.
If I’m the first one awake, I make coffee and breakfast in blissful solitude, scrolling through the unending nightmare that appears to have ended in places like “Europe” because they “took things seriously” and “dealt with this catastrophe.” Suspicious. If I am second to rise, I am conversation’s prisoner. He asks how I slept. He offers me a hug. He tells me he loves me. Enough, I think. Sometimes, in especially weak moments, I wonder if I’m being a brat about this, maybe making the whole deal even harder than it already is. But I always recover quickly. That’s impossible. Living with me is an unparalleled joy.
My morning run, which was once a peaceful and productive way to begin the day, is now a list of concerns I must address until I return home: my mask; my contacts; people who don’t have masks on; my mask; busy crosswalks; my mask; the crushing weight of uncertainty permeating every aspect of life; and my mask. I listen to a podcast about violent crime to take my mind off things.
When I finish the run, it is almost time to begin working for the day. But first, I conduct a series of Google searches: How many days ago was March 13th, when we began isolating? Is my American passport worthless now? When will this end? Is there an adult I could speak to? And so on. But then I get down to business.
While I work at a table near the kitchen, because proximity to snacks is all that separates me from the homicidal maniacs who populate my podcasts, I listen to even more of those podcasts. Despite the presence of my headphones, he often speaks to me. “I made a cheese plate for lunch. Do you want to share it with me? Also, you look very nice today.” LIAR. I lock myself in the bathroom with the cheese plate, wondering how anyone could be so selfish.
The afternoon drags on much the way the 132 afternoons before it have done. “Let’s watch a movie,” he suggests, “if you want to.” But my rage nap is coming up. HE KNOWS THAT. IF I DON’T TAKE MY RAGE NAP, I COME VERY CLOSE TO BEING DIFFICULT.
After the rage nap, I am more pliable. I allow a discussion about dinner to take place. He suggests ordering sushi, because I like sushi. “Fine,” I say, in much the same way you’d agree to a price quoted by a contractor you’ve never worked with before. If he thinks I will make this months-long traumatic event any easier by thanking him for ordering sushi, he has underestimated me.
The sushi is very good, which makes me furious. Before I go to sleep, I spend some time in bed beneath the lights I have chosen specifically for the calming glow they cast around the bedroom. But the glow’s effect is immediately negated when I make the mistake of looking at my phone once more.
In this emotional twilight, there is not much I can do. I wait. I wonder. I watch Grey’s Anatomy again. I call for the cat. She does not come. I can’t blame her.