Covid Diaries. Flash fiction by Fiona Fahey

Thursday, April 30th, 10.58 p.m.
I haul my naked body from the bath, stopped in my tracks by the sight of a Daddy Long-legs shuttering down one of his silky spider threads to retrieve a dead body. There is a dead insect inches from my tiled floor, with its legs neatly bent and tucked around itself. I take a second look. Daddy Long-legs is attempting to haul this dead insect up to its web on my bathroom ceiling. Murderer, I think, aghast. Covid is hard enough without having to witness the brutality of animals killing and moving dead bodies around my bathroom late at night. Murderer, I whisper. He obvs ignores me. Utterly indifferent to the dripping naked human standing a foot away from him.
My vegetarian ex-boyfriend stands in my doorway: you’re the murderer, he exclaims, pointing at me with disgust, killing and eating innocent animals, his face crumples in barely disguised rage and disgust.
He killed first, my retort, to the imaginary conversation, amazed at Daddy Long-legs’s work ethic and physical strength, the dead insect he is hauling up his thread is half his size! Enough! There are too many of us in this bathroom. Water droplets flying everywhere I grab my murder weapon and suction hose the crime scene out of my sight.
The next evening:
I join a dinner party hosted on the street by a lesbian couple. I sit six feet away from a girl in her twenties, smoking a joint and drinking red wine in her onesie and black and white polka dot towelled dressing gown, with red and white stripy sock s. We realise we have been listening to the same podcasts: we clash on Russ ell Brand – me for, her against. She wishes he would dumb down. Cov id has already dumbed us down, I lament. Look at us, trapped animals in a maze of housing estates, terrified of each other. Her rusty red brown hair is nearly down to her bum and under the streetlight it makes her look like Rapunzel. She wants to know why I neither drink nor smoke. I peer at her from my elder portal by twenty years and wonder, how do you explain the return from brokenness through a waft of marijuana.
Friday May 1st.
I panic. Full blown panic. And it’s only 7 p.m. Apparently Leo Varadkar is going to announce a phased exit strategy. I don’t want to go back to my life, I can’t breathe. I’ve developed Stock holm syndrome. I don’t want to live without the shadow of the plague, I can talk to Daddy Long-legs in my bathroom and chase dead insects around my house. Covid has become my neurotic companion. I’m constantly shadowboxing with death – don’t worry, I tell my nervous system, don’t worry, Covid isn’t going anywhere fast. I walk, and I keep walking. It’s 11 p.m. by the time I return from an exhausted tour of nearby housing estates. Two neighbours are drinking red wine and smoking. I stop. It’s payday, one tells me, slurring her words. It’s payday and aren’t the government just playing a blinder? Did you hear about the phased exit from hell? I did, I say, but how do we believe the data when the testing is still so inadequate? It makes me panic. You’re not allowed criticise the Minister for Health, my fascist neighbour swigging from her beer can replies. Ok cool, whatever. I ’m going inside, I have more panicking to do. It’s ok Covid, don’t mind her, I whisper to my predator, I’m on your side. Will we go get some Daddy Long-legs?

Saturday morning:
I dress up for the supermarket. Put on some fancy lingerie and march up the soggy road for a food queue. I pass a Garda checkpoint along the way, it ’s drizzly, but I’m pretty sure the garda checked me out. There’s a big white-skinned seventy-year-old security guard at the entrance to Supervalu. He looks like he’s been there since it opened, like he was a criminal before he ran security. Smiling isn’t his thing. Maybe I’m wrong though – I see him no win a pink-chequered piny, half-naked and running the hover around for his lover. This is what queue-time does to my brain. It’s a disheveled clientele he must stand over. I just want to hand out tambourines to everyone and for us all to sing. This burns in my stomach, this desire to start a fire, hold a meditation, a confessional mental health meeting in the car park behind a supermarket as we queue on a Sunday morning. Fucking anything bar this silent, polite weirdness. Maybe all viral predators do this to you: cut out your tongue and make you civilised.
I ring my mother:
Don’t come near us.
Your father might have Covid.
The next day
My mother rings me: Are you not coming out?
I thought Dad had Covid and you want ed me to stay away.
Oh yes, good idea, you’re right, that ’s what I’d do. Stay away.
I go to Dunnes. I feel like I’m stuck in a Philip k. Dick novel or a version of Brave New World. White light beams through the shopping centre’s atrium. My Oxfam sunglasses can’t take the glare. The walls are white, the floors are white, white glossy and spotless, everything is spotless. We all line up quietly on one side. We look straight ahead. Tinny pop music blares. I’m scared and I’m lonely. I pop on the white plastic gloves and adjust my face mask before I enter the vegetable section. Covid shadows jump out behind the bananas and sneeze onto my apples. I look over my shoulder nervously. I can’t wait to get back to my Daddy Long-legs.


Covid is distracting me from finishing my novel.

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