Teenage Boy with Coved 19
|My name is Arthur and I'm quarantined in my parent's basement. I tested positive for the Coved 19 virus. My symptoms are mild, but my tests are keeping me locked up. It's kind of a relief, no more trying to fit in at school. School closed in March; my Senior year clipped like a newborn baby's umbilical cord. When I heard the kids in my class, all bugged eyed and complaining, it give me pleasure, the kind you feel when something bad happens to someone and you know they deserve it.
"No Senior Prom, our class trip and graduation canceled. We worked hard, they can't do this to us!"
I tried to dodge them in the hall. The announcement over the intercom, school closing due to the virus, caused their bodies to jerk like marionette characters. I cleaned out my locker, tunneled toward the exit and thought I should stop and smack their faces, tell them to get a grip on themselves. But, I felt free and headed for the door.
My parents are retired because of their age. I'm their only child, an accident that happened in my Mother's 50th year. As a child I thought I must have been a pleasant surprise, but now I know my birth was an unrecoverable shock. To get back at fate, God or just bad luck they are grooming me to be their caregiver. After graduation, I can get my driver's license and I bet I will be hauling them around.
Father is distant and intellectual, sometimes he stares at me as if wondering how I came from his body. He likes white shirts, black ties, florsheim shoes and most of all order. Certain that each day will fall in place, the universe turning to protect his equilibrium. Mother looks to my father on how to live her life, a puppet that moves at the touch of his hand.
When I tested positive for the virus I moved to the basement. Mother gathered my clothes while Father checked the list of items I needed. He sharpened a 10 pack of Ticonderoga pencils to go with the 500 pages of notebook paper and added them to Mother's arms.
Clothes, bathroom, paper, pencils, blankets and couch, all the necessities I need. The days pass and my routine consists of walking up the basement stairs, opening the door wide enough to squeeze my meals through. I slide the dishpan of dirty dishes through the opening, close the door and take the food to the couch. Then I climb the stairs again with my dirty clothes, toss them over the books and take Father's reading recommendations to the couch. So far, it's Faulkner's,"The Sound and The Fury," T.S Eliot's, "The Waste Land" and some Hemingway. One day I received a note, "Keep at it, soon you will be ready for Joyce's "Ulysses and Shakespeare."
I haven't seen my Father since my quarantine. Mother comes to the basement window, I climb the step ladder and we wave to one another. She mouths, "Are you ok?" I nod, but I decided not to tell her about my new friend.
After the first two weeks, the health nurse came and tested me, I tested positive again. Another two weeks, another test and still positive. I lost track of the days and how many tests I've had. I need two negative tests before I can leave the basement.
After a while, I got lonesome, I didn't miss my parents but I needed a friend. When I first spotted the mouse I didn't move, I just watched him. Over time I figured out his routine, I started a "Mouse Log" tracking his times of appearance and how long he stayed out. I didn't have a watch ,but I counted off the seconds, then figured the minutes and wrote them in the log. He started appearing more when I started feeding him. Meat, he always left but he liked vegetables. His favorites, cheese, crackers, and lettuce. I decided to name him "Cheese Nip."
One day, I heard a tap on the window. I climbed the ladder and there was a woman peeking in at me. She's held a cake and swung her arm toward the yard. An old man driving a car decorated with balloons pulled up to the window. He got out hiding a sign behind his back. He came to the window, slid the sign in front of him and I read "Happy Birthday." Then both of them began to cry. I wondered who they were and why the old man wanted to drive in the yard.
I've got "Cheese Nip" pretty well figured out, Before long, I will touch him and I hope one day he will run and climb my leg. I just found out he loves strawberries. What a friend!