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 Thirty Five

Somewhere in the western regions of the Lost Quarter there is a ferry crossing that takes travellers from the main roads to an empty, almost desolate grassland. There the plains have been undisturbed and ranchers and their cattle still hold sway over vast expanses of arid land. It rains infrequently and the grass is sparse and tough, pockmarked with prickly pear cactus and buckbrush.

There are bridges across the river, both to the west and east, but both would take someone hours out of their way in order to get across and the roads lead away. A ferry was established early in the last century, which exists to this day, though the vessel has been somewhat updated. It is small – only one vehicle can fit upon its narrow deck – and moves sluggishly across the current to the opposite shore. A local family operates it and if you happen to arrive outside hours you will be stranded, for they have other business to see to.

When you cross to the other side, you find yourself in a land of high hills. There are no trees and little water, just the vast prairie as it must have looked like when Those Who Went Away wandered these parts before their cruel exile. Now there are only cattle, the odd human, rattlesnakes, and fencelines strung with barbed wire to mark changing territories.

I was there once, many years ago, guided by a local woman who lived there for many years, a family friend. Her father had once owned a great ranch in the foothills of the western mountains, part of which he promised to her. But she fell in love with one of her father’s ranch hands, which made him furious. When they refused to part he banished them both and they made their way to this lonely spot in the Quarter. They made a life there for themselves and had a family, and saw no more of hers. When, many years later, her father died he left some money to her in his will, though not any of his vast estates. They refused it, tearing up the cheque, wanting no part of that fortune at all.

She still lives in these parts, though not on the ranch I visited long ago, age having forced her into town.  Some of their children still tend to the ranch. The ranch hand stayed with her as long as he could, but this summer the grippe reborn took him away.

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