Finding comfort in the strangest of places and the strangest of people.
"Meaux, your shift is up. What are you doing?"
"Sandra, I do this every night," he replies as he sneakily walks into a room.
"You can't keep doing. I can't keep covering for you going into this guy's room," Sandra says as she stands behind the desk, looking at the medical curtain bellowing as Meaux shuts it.
"How are you doing today handsome," Meaux asks as he takes a seat, sliding his finger through the hair of the beautiful Asian American male lying upon the medical cot.
"I'm doing great," replies the male as he turns his head into Meaux's fingers.
Meaux jumps, removing his fingers from his soft hair, bumping into his food cart. "Sandra!"
"Meaux, what did you?" she stops as she notices that the young man is awake. "Doctor Walters John Doe is awake," she continues.
Meaux walks out of the room and stands by watching the doctors evaluate John Doe. He turns to him multiple times, smiling. Once the room clears, Sandra walks over to Meaux.
"He's asking for you."
"Meaux, you've been talking to him every night for the last year," she says, standing next to him. She nudges him, causing him to move.
As he walks into the room, pulling the curtain closed again, John Doe attempts to sit up in his bed.
"Let me help you," Meaux says, grabbing him around his waist as he places his arms around Meaux's neck. His smooth forearms caress Meaux's smooth cocoa brown skin. As Meaux moves back, he can feel the stranger's breath upon his neck. As a strand of his curly jet back hair tangles in John Doe's earring. Meaux untangles it smiling coyly underneath his mask.
"So...you visited me every night?"
"I did," Meaux says, standing away from him, fidgeting with his mask.
"Why are you wearing the mask here. I'm not in the ICU."
"You've been calling me John Doe because you have no information on me?"
"Yes," Meaux replies, completely embarrassed. "And all of the hospitals have been overrun with people because of everything going on."
"My name is Damien. What's been going on?"
"Well, Damien, when you got in your accident in January of last year, the world was just learning about this disease called the Coronavirus, also known as COVID 19. Unfortunately, this disease has taken over our daily lives and has become a global pandemic. These masks are as common as shoes and underwear. The world stopped momentarily to stop the spread, but the numbers went up again after the holidays. So I haven't seen family or friends in almost a year. So, I've visited you. Everyday. Every single day."
"Sooooo, there's a zombie apocalypse outside, and I'm the only person you've had contact with outside of your co-workers."
"That's correct. Apart from the Zombie apocalypse thing," Meaux says, smiling.
"Take the mask down. I want to see your beautiful smile."
Meaux pulls his mask down under his chin, smiling bashfully.
"There you are," Damien says, smiling. "Come closer...?"
Meaux moves closer, pulling his mask up, "Meauxique, but my friends call me Meaux, MEAUX."
As he takes a seat by Damien's bedside, he looks into his eyes, "Why me?"
"During this global pandemic, everyone has been isolated and lonely, but you didn't have anyone. No one came looking; no one could visit, and I was lonely too. So you became my own little human diary. I came in and read books to you. I talked to you late into the night. Some nights I just sat here by your bedside playing, rubbing your hand."
"I've never been with a guy before."
"I... I'm sorry if you feel that I violated you or your personal space," Meaux says, standing as Damien grabs his hand.
"Don't go. I've heard your voice in my dreams every night. I thought I was dead. I was walking in a dark room with no walls; it was just endless darkness, and you were the only thing that kept me going. So please don't leave."
Meaux sits back down and looks into his eyes as Damien tears up, "Do you have any family?
"I got into the accident after I found out my sister was killed by her husband. She was the last family I had. I didn't want to live."
"I'm sorry," Meaux says as he reaches for Damien's hand.
"No need for apologies. You saved me. Can I be your person? In the Zombie apocalypse?"
Meaux laughs, "After physical therapy, you can be whatever you like."
"Until then, can we settle for a kiss?"
Damien pulls Meaux's mask down and pulls him in, Meaux closes his eyes, and the touch of this comatose stranger sends chills down his spine. He can see a life with him. The future at this moment seems bright. He pulls back, gasping for air as if this kiss foretold his future. Pulling up his masks, covering the smile that is overshadowed by the single tear rolling from his left eye.
A Month Later
Damien and Meaux walk out of the hospital on a beautiful winter's day, hand in hand as flakes of snow land upon their faces. Damien looks up into the sky and takes a deep breath.
"Let's go home, "Meaux laughs looking at Damien, who looks like a kid seeing snow for the first time.
"Yeah, before the Zombies get us."
Meaux punches him in the arm, laughing.
"Aye, don't hit me. I was in a coma."