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 Four Hundred Twenty One

Restless and unable to sleep these last nights. It is like I have forgotten how to drift off and I spend the darkened hours in bed trying and failing to do what should come without a thought. I almost dread sleep now; it holds no promise of rejuvenation, just anguish. Here, after more than a year with the dread lord grippe, it feels as though I am becoming untethered, just as the end of our struggles comes into sight. I have received my inoculation, and my love will receive hers soon as well. Yet I can find none of the peace I thought this moment would bring.

In part it is the inoculation I received, which has vanishingly rare but potentially deadly side effects. I knew about these beforehand, but was unconcerned. With the dread lord only gaining in power in these parts, there was clearly much more risk to me from him than from whatever might befall me from the inoculation. And there was not just me to think about. There is my love, who would undoubtedly be infected if I were to be, and any others who life chanced to send my way. The choice was clear.

My reaction to the dose was so powerful that I began to doubt that logic, even as I knew it to still be correct. The news in these parts did little to provide confidence. There were cases of the rare side effect (but of course there would be when millions of doses were given) and experts who advised against using the inoculation and experts who disagreed with them. It was exhausting in all the ways this past year has been exhausting. A cacophony of noise which you wish you could ignore but somehow cannot, a blanket of fog that leaves you turning this way and that wondering what direction to go.

I have turned away from the news and all the various mediums that extract so much time from our lives. Over the last year I have consumed it all voraciously, reading story after story about the dread lord, checking updates of numbers of those afflicted by his powers, and now updates of those who have been inoculated against him. It felt important to bear witness to our collective struggle; it was the least I could do so far from the front lines of that battle. And it was a comfort too, knowing others were enduring as we were enduring.

But it is a comfort no longer. This morning I went for a bike ride, following one river to where it met another, a great confluence at the centre of the city. I looked out upon that ancient meeting place where Those Who Went Away and many others gathered over the centuries, the water glimmering under the rising sun, the light as only it can be in these parts. I felt a sense of peace knowing that I was standing where so many others had looked out upon these same waters under this same light. Today, I said to myself, is going to be a good day.

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