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.

The storm was long past – thirty minutes or more – and the sky above was even clearing, when a final, catastrophic bolt of lightning struck the television antenna mounted atop a power pole outside. The explosion that followed was so complete and total that it overwhelmed the music. Silence followed and darkness and I was certain that I was dead.

At least until I opened my eyes and saw my father carrying the smoking stereo outside lest it catch anything on fire. The lightning had travelled from the antenna through the wiring into the house, burning out everything. Later we would discover it had scorched a hole in the gas line when the grass in the lawn began to yellow. My mother had been doing the dishes and the sink had water in it and the electricity had even travelled through that burning the bottom of a mug set upon its edge. By chance she had not had her hands buried in the sudsy water when the bolt struck and had been spared its power.

It seemed to take forever for my hearing to come back. All I could hear was the thunder echoing in my mind. If I close my eyes now I can hear it again.

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