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 Fifty One

My love and I left for a week of wandering about the western dominions, a respite from the drudgery of work and the general anxiety that attends our waking hours because of the grippe reborn. The dread lord has found his way to those realms too, of course, and the quarantine protocols are in place there, so there was no escaping his presence entirely. We still carried our masks everywhere and had to think about what to do and where to eat and all manner of things that previously we wouldn’t have given a second thought to.

It is habit now, which makes it somewhat easier, though I long for a day when the dread lord does not enter my thoughts. I fear that day may never arrive. Even once we have vanquished him, the habits of anxiety will persist.

We had occasion to visit my parents who recently moved from the Lost Quarter, now living on a piece of land to the south and west, though they still have cattle on pastures there and return often to see to them. The area they live in now is nearly indistinguishable from the Quarter, a rolling prairie that stretches off to the east. To the west there are great hills, topped by thickets of trees, wild places that are as little travelled as the roads in the Quarter.

From there we travelled further south, down to the border with the great empire, where the prairie looks like home. Grass stretching off into the distance, the hills cresting waves of an endless sea with specks of cattle plying the green waters.

We stopped briefly in a small town for ice cream and to use the bathroom and I was overcome by a feeling that wasn’t quite déjà vu or nostalgia, but had some aspect of each. It was so like the town I grew up near that it was immediately familiar – the broad streets that would allow a fleet of cars to pass by, the false fronted stores, and the small town houses, all of a particular innocuous style. The main street looked as though it had seen better days, with some of the buildings closed and boarded and many others in need of a coat of paint. The action, as with so many small towns, has shifted to the highways where the traffic passes by, businesses hoping to entice someone to stop on their way to somewhere else.

Along the highway stood a great elevator, those old sentinels of the prairies that marked every small town. Their multitudes have all been replaced by a few concrete giants. Some of the old elevators still stand, having been repurposed or just left to rot. The ones in the town I grew up near were torn down while I was still young and seeing one now still fills me with the memories and feelings of that vanished youth.

As we drove by we saw that there was machinery at the base of the structure and they were preparing to knock it down. When we passed by several hours later the elevator had been reduced to half its size, a gaping wound in one side, clutter and rubble at its base. We were among the last to set eyes upon it before it was gone forever.

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