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 Two Hundred Eighteen

They wait while the snow falls, through the short winter days and on into the long darkness of the nights. The apartment is a cramped one bedroom on the fourth floor of a brick building, looking out on a residential street. It is sparsely furnished: a couple of folding chairs and cots and little else. The signs of a temporary occupation.

They go in shifts to stand by the bedroom window, peering out through the slotted blinds, looking down at the street or at the apartment building across the way. It is a newer building, all glass and gleaming surface. The bedroom is empty, the cots and their other meagre furniture all in the main room where they keep the blinds turned to block any view.

The street is subdued, whether from the snow or some other reason. People hurry by, coats turned up and shoulders set against the cold. Those who leave the building across the way always hesitate after stepping out, looking about as though to ensure the way is clear, while those entering rush inside, stamping their feet free of the snow. No one lingers, or glances in the direction of the bedroom window. There are no meetings, not even any chance encounters.

They both leave the apartment at various points during the day, leaving their partner on watch, going to pick up food or check the mail. Once a day one of them calls a number that is never picked up, counting off the rings until they hang up.

Most of their hours are filled with peering through the blinds in silence, listening to the clicks and groans of the ancient radiator as it comes on and off. They talk in murmurs as they switch off watch, noting what they’ve seen, and then retire to the main room to eat and read or lie on the cots to try to sleep.

The days go on and still they wait and watch while the snow continues to fall outside. They begin to notice the same faces coming and going at the same time. This person walking their dog at ten. That one hurrying off in the morning, late for work again. A restlessness takes hold, though they both work hard to contain it. Now they go outside just to take the air, watching the clouds of their breath swallow up snowflakes, before returning to the window to peer out again.

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