Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Seventy Three

My first memories are of me in a hospital. They are images, pieces of a recollection of what took place. The interstitial moments have faded from my mind so that only these singular instants remain.

In the first I am lying upon a hospital bed, unable to move. I have the distinct sensation of something like claustrophobia, an itch to move that I cannot scratch. My leg is broken and raised up in traction – I know this, but I do not actually see it in my memory. Instead, what I see is someone hovering above me offering me a plate with toast and jam. Their face is a ghostly absence, though I feel it is kindly. Whoever it was is vanished from my mind.

The second is some days or weeks later. I was in traction for over a month because I, ignoring the pain it caused, would not stay still enough for my leg to set properly. This time I am outside, seated on the wooden planks of a deck, playing with a toy truck. Some other child comes and takes it away from me and I cry out, trying to get up to steal it back. But my legs don’t know what they are doing after so long abed and I remain seated and forlorn on the deck.

I must have returned home not long after, but I have no memory of that. For years I favoured my left leg over my right when going down stairs or kicking a ball, for no reason except the memory of that broken leg shadowed my young thoughts. Now all that remains are those two images, so vivid and clear, while the greater parts have been washed away by the years.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Seventy Two

My love has returned to her office. When the quarantine laws came into effect I thought this would be a happy occasion, that we would feel relief at its coming and the end of lockdown and the fear and doubt that pursued us. Yet that is not quite the case. We have not conquered the dread lord, though we have turned aside his first assault. More will come, but we will hopefully be better prepared when they come.

We have grown used to days spent together at home, both of us busy at work, but without all the attendant stresses and distractions that seem to come from being in the office. It is a strange thing in that I don’t think either of us was aware of those stresses until they were absent. They were just a part of daily life, not even worthy of our attention.

She returns to a tower as sparsely populated as the hinterlands of the Lost Quarter. What purpose can there be in her being there, I find myself wondering, when she cannot meet with anyone and must scurry through the hallways trying not to come into contact with anyone.

By contrast, I must remain at home for the foreseeable future where I can still keep up with my correspondences. Will I enjoy it as much with my love absent? I think not.

It is a haphazard, lurching step into an uncertain future. And yet we must, for life persists with all its sorrows and joys. The dread lord cannot stop it entirely, no matter how many of us he may strike. We will just need to find ways to live within his shadows now that our defences have held. Further attacks are coming and we must prepare for those as best we can while allowing ourselves to resume our previous regimens.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Seventy One

Another day away from my correspondences. I transplanted some tomatoes and kale, preparing them for their eventual move outdoors. The weather hasn’t truly gotten warm yet – the days are often delightful, but the evenings still have a chill – so it will be a week or two before I am able to move them outdoors. This year in particular has been miserly for warmth; last year I would have transplanted weeks ago.

After, my love and I wandered down to the island on the northern river – we are between two rivers that join to the east, not far from that island – and had a brief picnic beneath some trees. It was brief because as we sat enjoying the peace of the day, the wind picked up and the sky darkened with clouds. Frantically we packed up our things before the rain came and sprinted for cover.

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Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Seventy

I recall an evening in my childhood – I can’t have been older than four, for we were still in our old house – sitting listening to Cheap Trick on the headphones, rocking back and forth to the beat on our couch. It was a sea green blue couch, stiff and ungainly, with an elaborate sigil formed into its fabric. I would trace my fingers along its patterns as though I were trying to find my way through a labyrinth.

It was summer and there had been a tremendous storm earlier, lightning striking so near the house that the thunder had sounded like an explosion directly overhead. The rain had passed though and with it the thunder and lightning. My parents were in the kitchen cleaning up after supper, leaving me to my music. I closed my eyes as I listened, transported to another world I could barely formulate in my mind.

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Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Sixty Nine

A long walk down by the riverside. So many others are out, walking and biking as well. Where the banks allow people have spread out blankets and are sunbathing. A few rafts bob along with the current, people sprawled upon them. My love and I sit, eating pastry and drinking iced coffee, watching ducks paddle by, luxuriating in a day spent at nothing.

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grand Jatte – George Seurat

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Sixty Eight

A day of celebration, for it is my birth day. Now that I am getting up there, as they say, I just want to rock and roll.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Sixty Seven

It was in Sixty Seven that the governors and potentates, hierarchs and stewards, lords and magnates of the scattered territories gathered together to form themselves into a Dominion. In that time the Lost Quarter was still under the governance of the great Company that managed the vast north and western territories. All they cared for was extracting pelts and other bounty from the territories.

The territories that formed the Dominion fought bitterly amongst themselves for primacy in the Dominion and when the opportunity came to purchase the north and western territories from the Company, each saw an opportunity to create colonies in its image that could help to turn the balance of power in the greater Dominion. Those Who Left, still the predominant inhabitants of the north and western territories at that time, were to be remade and enlisted in this task, their old ways forgotten. And Those Who Came were to be carefully selected for their loyalty.

Such were the plans of the illustrious Dominion magnates. Those Who Left and Those Who Came both declined to cooperate though. Those Who Left saw no reason to let these interlopers determine their way of life and were subjugated and sent into their bitter exile as a result. Those Who Came were for a time loyal to their eastern masters, but the Dominion rulers were far away and matters on the ground were quite different and they quickly found that their interests did not align. They began to agitate to become their own stewards, equal in all matters with the eastern dominions.

Continue reading

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Sixty Six

Rain falls heavily with no sign of letting up. I watch it descend from my window, the drops so large it looks like slanted waves cutting through the air. The rivers, already swollen with spring melt, will be near to overflowing their banks by the end of this spring storm. The trees outside my home grow greener and greener, their leaves lengthening.

Pie for breakfast with my coffee, a fine luxury. It is an iron law of pie that whoever rises first can partake of the leftovers to break their fast. This morning that is me, though in truth it is only because my love is kind. She always rises earlier than me and could claim the pie by right, but she knows how much I love it and is willing to forgo her claim. There is no dessert finer than a pie in my estimation.

My love doesn’t believe in laws regarding food. To her there are no foods unsuitable for breakfast or dinner. Anything can be eaten at any time. Spaghetti, chicken or noodles can be eaten as breakfast, dinner or snack. Her only law is that rice is life and must be eaten with every meal, though even on this she is not as constant as many of her fellow islanders are.

It is, I must admit, a much more sensible approach than that practised here in the Lost Quarter and elsewhere, declaring certain foods only suitable to particular meals. Eating should never be so rigorous. It should be about taking pleasure with your sustenance.

She eats her eggs with ketchup though, which is an abomination before man and gods and which I refuse to countenance.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Sixty Five

I sit in shadows staring at my correspondences. They sky is grey slate allowing no hint of the sun to appear. The geese cry out as they take flight.

My dreams were of an elusive, futile search for a lost ingredient for a cookie unlike any other. A taste so magnificent it made people weep with delight. I awoke with a yearning to discover what was lost, though no sense of what that might be or how to find it.

Exploration is conquest. To understand something is to possess it.

That is what so many strive to do with the grippe reborn. To understand the dread lord completely and so conquer him. But there is no absolute understanding, no knowledge so complete that he cannot find a way from our clutches. He is forever slipping away into the darkness, lost to us while he gathers his strength to try again.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Sixty Four

The sky is heavy with dark clouds and the promise of rain. It has been so dry these last weeks that I can almost feel my skin tightening, as if I am slowly desiccating and soon will be preserved for centuries. Of course, there is little that lasts that long in the Lost Quarter.

I recall that in my youth there were concerns that a portion of the Quarter, where I grew up, would turn into a desert. My grandparents even appeared on the news to talk about the possibility and as they spoke pictures of windswept dunes were shown. Ridiculous. It is a desert of a sort, but one of grass not of sand. There can be no doubt, it was drier there than the rest of the Quarter, some years receiving so little rainfall crops couldn’t even grow. The wind would blow and take the soil with it, filling the air with clouds of dust that dimmed the sun, so that it felt like one traversed an alien landscape.

But that was a fundamental misunderstanding of what was happening with the climate and the land. We were in the midst of several dry years, common in that area, which were followed by wetter ones. The first of Those Who Came found the area uninhabitable it was so dry, but later arrivals thought it bountiful. Both were correct. Now the extremes shift from year to year, the storms growing more violent and strange.

Only the wind remains constant. It is never still on the Quarter, sometimes a howling menace, sometimes a sweet comfort on the hottest days.