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 Sixty Nine

She stands in the middle of the sidewalk casting her eyes about uncertainly. Two men sit under the shade of a tree near shopping carts piled high with blankets and clothes, bags filled with bottles and other odds and ends that collect around a life. They are staring into the half distance, paying no attention to her, though she is trying to meet their eyes.

Pushing past her hesitation she approaches the men, eyes downcast, saying something to them in a voice so low they can barely hear it. They send her away with a curt dismissal. She hurries down the street, her face impassive, her eyes searching.

At a glance she looks like any other young woman on her way to meet up with friends or a date. She is wearing a pretty white dress with a flower pattern checked across it. Her hair is pulled back, framing her dark and solemn eyes, which have a restlessness to them, only apparent upon closer inspection. She is one of Those Who Went Away, living a different kind of exile in this place than the starving one her ancestors were forced into.

Moving quickly, she cuts through a back alley, heading to a nearby park. There is a medical centre nearby and the ones she is looking for often congregate there. As she comes out of the alley she walks by the steps of the church. Two women, about her age, sit on the steps under the glare of the sun. One of them is unwrapping some foil, checking what is within, a happy smile on her face, while the other stares out with an unreadable expression, lips tight and angry.

She pauses before these women, hesitating again. For a second it looks as though she is going to approach them, but something changes her mind, a shadow crossing her face, and she moves on. The two women don’t notice her passing at all.

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