Day 47

Written 4 May, 2020

Last night we came back to the city for meds again at Darlinghurst post office, and with a big washing load, for the tanks are running low and when they’re empty, that’s it for our escape.



Leaving our bay

In Darlinghurst, our apartment is seven floors up. Masked and gloved- not many people on the streets are, to my astonishment- and shopping bag laden, I do the never-ending calculation – which will be more virus furred- lift or stairs? Who knows?  The shopping is heavy- food- food-food!! I decide on the lift, but it’s important to say, before you start doubting my sanity- that it’s the little lift  it’d only just fit you if you’re carrying, say an arm chair – and Mr Cranky walks out, his  faded blue eyes amongst red wrinkles as always not seeing me, but he must see me, those eyes are always just at the right moment rolled into the distance. I don’t know why I care, except that he always leaves his New Yorkers out on the lobby bench for anyone to read, and it’s always me who reads them. I’m glad he doesn’t know – he’d probably stop putting them out. Anyway, I and my bulky bags get in, just fitting, the lift door’s sliding out the threatening world and suddenly a huge figure blocks its slow slide. Half a metre away is a figure in motor-bike black, shiny helmet hiding his face, his eyes must be in there somewhere, but he’s not properly human, he’s so monster-movie, a three-year old would scream.

I scream.

I scream into this virus filled world, this massacring world: Get out!

You want me to get out? asks a charmingly accented, seductive male voice. A pillow- talk voice he keeps for women, and I could be of interest, for all he can see of me is blonde hair.

But why?

I’m so shocked at my three-year old self, what i’ve become  in 45 days, that all I can do is yell again:

Get out.

He takes a step back, the door takes the opportunity to slide between us, the lift ascends.

All day i’m shocked. I can’t do the city.

While i wait for GG to shower and shave, (luxuriously taking his time instead of the 1 minute showers of the river) I ring R in the middle of the US. I miss her dearly,  for her pretty, compassionate face, the careful, honest way she weighs things up. She was the only one of my scientist friends who  took me seriously, the only person in the world who did, when I was obsessed with the realisation that I was changing the neural pathways of my students.  She discussed it with me over coffee and cake for five years, and eventually designed the elegant and successful  experiment at NIDA about how teaching the neuroscience of creativity enhances the originality of students. She now runs a clinic for schizophrenics. She tells me that in her state, they’re doing well, the governor shut things down earlier than us, in late March, whereas we only shut down at Easter, and then not the whole country.  So not many viral cases. But the peak is still to come, it’s thought, and when it does and the hospitals are overrun by coronavirus patients, she tells me she’ll be called in to work as an intern, alongside a resident doctor for six week stints, deciding whether patients need ICU. Her training as a medical doctor was a long thirty years ago.

I suppose it’ll all come back to me, she says.

How do you feel about it?


Terrified you’ll catch the virus?

Terrified I’ll hurt someone.

It mightn’t happen, is all I can say to comfort her. You’r state is doing well and  might stay ahead of the curve.

It mightn’t happen.

That’s what we’re all saying, isn’t it- it mightn’t happen.


2 Responses to Day 47

  1. One of the silver linings of this remarkable event, as I’m sure we’re all finding, is the pockets of time that seem to pop up unsuspectingly like they never would during our crazy hustle and bustle days, our days or normality.

    A few nights ago I spoke to an old friend, KS, a friend from college, a few years older than me; an abnormally and extraordinarily bright, charismatic, inspiring young woman. KS and I caught up over House Party, a novelty phone app – think Facetime meets Zoom meets Snapchat – KS filled me in on her life (I’m thanking the evil virus for giving us this time). She told me that she recently signed a contract at Cairns base hospital to work as a PHO surgeon (don’t ask me what PHO stands for), doing general surgeries: appendix, cancers, that sort of thing.

    I asked her – because how could I not – what she was hearing about the virus and if much progress was being made with a vaccine. I asked her calmly, in a casual way, as if one was asking their friend over coffee about that veggie garden they decided to grow on a whim. Beneath my ‘chill’ tone and off-handed demeanour I wanted desperately to hear something good, something reassuring, not for me, no, I’m fine, I’m okay – but for my triplet brother, J. J who is locked in protective capsule in Manhattan, a capsule coated in a thin protective layer that is beginning to dissolve in the belly of the virus.

    I’ve always been excellent at hiding my feelings, not showing them on my face. I did a lot of acting as a kid, as a teenager, even now, so pretending and playing make believe comes naturally – it’s been easier to move through life that way.

    KS’s response wasn’t extraordinary, it wasn’t charismatic or inspiring – and although she told me to take it with a pinch of salt, her words left a sour taste in my mouth. There might never be a vaccination, not at least within the next year or two. She told me it’s mutating so rapidly and recovered victims are showing limited signs of developing an immunity to the thing … she said it might be always be with us – like the flu, flaring up once a year, outbreaks inevitable even if we do manage to contain it.

    I thought of J and his wife E. Locked up. Locked up, doing the right thing while ignorant, selfish and stupid (yes, stupid) Americans are protesting for their liberty, for their haircuts, for their beers at pubs, for their “freedom”; iIronically, the thought of such selfishness makes me feel ill.

    And if you think that THAT is bad news, boy oh boy, have I got a doozy for you, Sue! As you know, J, who reads to anyone who will listen a chapter of Harry Potter every day at 11am on his instagram ( now has a competitor; a challenger has entered the ring. I know what you’re thinking – “oh J is such a brilliant story teller, no mortal human could compete and steal his audience away”, well, what if I told you that Harry Potter himself has taken a leaf out of J’s book (pun intended). That’s right, Daniel Radcliffe the Harry Potter superstar has began reading chapters online too. This is a crisis in itself! To anyone who may stumble upon this post, please, PLEASE stay loyal to our J! Please, tell your friends, tell your neighbours, your GP, your florist (I know you have one), anyone about J and his 11am reads – this is a David versus Goliath kinda situation, it’s an underdog story, a fight for the little guy! A fight for our J.

  2. Sophie, Norman Swann in the ABC’s daily 9 min heavily -researched Corona Cast
    says in contrast to your friend that the virus is very stable and not mutating. That doesn’t mean a vaccine is any nearer than your friend says, though he mentioned recently that there are 60 something possible vaccines being developed at the moment, some piggy-backing on work already done on the SARS virus, (so there are short cuts) and with protocols of Ethics Committees minimised. And treatments not vaccines are perhaps on the way- in Queensland at the moment, 40 or more people are doing a proper controlled experiment on the old malaria drug Plaquenil- (Oh no, the drug Trump was advocating – and investing in???) – they are taking it and then will be exposed to the virus.(Swann wondered however, if it works for them, probably young and fit, will it work for the old and infirm…….) There’s hope for you and J, dear one.

Leave a reply