The diary of a coronavirus rebel

Diary entries by Cori O’Virus (as dictated to Colleen O’Brien)

I have secured a safe place to watch.

My name is Cori, short for Corona. I am from the Virus family. We have many friends and relatives who are categorized in that branch of human science that deals with viruses – “virology,” the study of us, named with the preciseness of human scientists.

Even without the likes of us, Earth is a killing field.

Earthlings kill a lot of things – all bugs, air, as many trees as are in their way, oceans large and small, each other — they are thorough.

Earth weather – hurricanes, blizzards, typhoons, tsunamis, floods, drought, cold, heat – kills.

Human disease from human habits – diabetes, cancer, heart failure, lung damage – kills.

We viruses can infect easily, but our way is not as exhilarating as some humans find their own killing; and how some humans known as trackers revel in following and cheering at destruction from tornadoes. For us, it’s easy to kill: as we are invisible there is no resistance to us, and our incubation period is lengthy – a human can be infected and walk around unknowing for two weeks spreading us among friends and strangers. We do not operate via explosions – no bodies catapulted out of houses like happens with bombs or tsunamis, no missing limbs as from warfare or blizzards, no blood gushing out of mouths as from fisticuffs of being thrown against a seawall wall by a tidal wave. We do not have the same drama quotient as human- or earth-inspired deaths.

But there is drama around us because humans disallow family at the scene of COVID-19 death of their relative–it’s likely we will infect them also. There is no family weeping bedside as we come in for the kill.

I do not reveal my rebellious mission, yet, to you, my family and friends. You would kill me or shun me or torture me (soak me in boiling water until I succumbed). This journal is for your eyes after the fact.

Right now, I’m hanging around on the lip of an orange vase on the top of a fridge. She who lives in this house apparently never comes near the greasy dust up here, but it is just these motes of bacon grease, bubbles from bean soup, splatters from fried potatoes that somehow keep me alive, as viral as ever, so to speak. She’s not a bad cook, although she’s partial to potato chips, which are not only un-nutritious but their residue never lands above counter level – no help to my longevity.

Living in a house with a single woman who goes nowhere except for two walks a day at times when there are few people around her ‘hood and once every two weeks to the grocery store means I have unlimited time to observe and record human behavior – her speech patterns as she talks to herself, the songs she sings, of which so far I’ve recorded about a dozen in my portmanteau of a memory, what jokes she laughs at from books, radio, computer and smart phone.

Her counters are not full of my cousins, although she scrubs them now and then as if she fears a virus may just float in and take up residence. I got in on the bottom of a grocery bag, which once she emptied it tossed out the door to soak up the sun. I watched several of my friends expire out there on the driveway as I found this safe perch atop the fridge.

She washes her hands often enough, even as she understood early on that in the absence of any stealthy approach to her domain by my extensive family, she didn’t have to be obsessive about it. I mean, there’s nobody here from my family except me; her family, I take it, is far away; and her friends and neighbors are not dropping in. I have no plan to leap into her respiratory system – I’m just watching her. She’s not coughing or sneezing or feeling heavy-chested or feverish. She does like to spray isopropyl alcohol on mail and bottles and fruits. I’ve heard her say to herself every time she uses it how much she loves the smell and how it evaporates so quickly – no wiping up.

I hope she doesn’t get the virus from my relatives. Even if she didn’t die with one of us in her system, she would be so uncomfortable – fever, exhaustion – and she has no one to cool her brow, cook chicken soup, change her sweat-soaked sheets or wash them, make sure she’s drinking liquid all the time. The hospitals around here don’t take anyone unless they’re absolutely dying.

She’s a little boring – types a lot, reads a lot, naps off and on through the days and nights. She loves looking out at the river in front of her house – a tidal river, always coming in, going out. She’ll talk on the phone for a bit, but she doesn’t concentrate well with an abstraction on the end of a line or a radio beam or whatever it is that allows long-distance conversation for these humans. Sometimes she dances, but she gives up easily. I see it cross her wrinkled but not-bad-looking old brow that she wants to be dancing with a person; dancing alone makes her eat entire chocolate bars.

She has her beloved NPR radio station on, so I’m going to sign off and listen. I’m just getting to understand their politics: this is where the vital information will come from. Will write again soon.

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