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 One Hundred Sixteen

There is a darkness at the end of the road. She walks toward it, gravel crunching under her shoes, rocks skittering in her path. Above, half a moon is still visible in the sky, the morning sun bright in the east. There is blue everywhere, as far as the eye can see, vast and perfect. Except at the end of the road, where the horizon ceases. The world shrinks there, becoming smaller and bathed in shadows.

The road narrows, the gravel becoming dirt. It is uneven, slanting this way and that, shifting with the way water runs. There are no ditches now, the grass along the sides taller than her in places. In low spots where water gathers, trees lean over the road. A sparrow drinks from a puddle with tire tracks on its edges, flitting away at her approach.

A gentle descent begins carrying her to a slough, the road curving around its edge. There are round bales of straw in the water where geese have made nests. They pay no mind to her passage. With the recent rains the slough has risen past its boundaries and washed out the road completely, so she needs to leave it, finding a path through the marshy hummocks on the other side.

At the far side of the slough the road ends. The water glistens less there, the light of the sun dissipated. There is a tangle of trees at the edge, some in the water. Willows and poplars, chokecherries and caraganas. The darkness is within their shadows, a presence, ebbing and flowing like the waves on the slough.

She stops to watch it for a time as it shivers in the wind, contours barely visible through the branches and shifting by the moment. Setting her shoulders she begins her approach.

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