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 Seven Hundred Ninety Three

A late spring in these parts. There were flurries again yesterday and the week before, though no snow stuck to the ground. January had warmer days than we have had in May. When my love and I walk to her office in the mornings it is still brisk though the sun is up and bright. This week I have noticed the trees are largely in leaf. Even those that had been reluctant to bud are now showing glimpses of foliage. We are now at the Victoria Day long weekend in May, which traditionally means horrible weather in these parts, after which it is safe to plant your garden without any risk of frost.

Life has otherwise largely drifted back to normal after our bout with the Grippe Reborn. My love has returned to her tower for work. After more than two years away this week I did the same, which felt both momentous and oddly familiar at the same time. It has meant that we are no longer able to walk together in the morning and while we both will still work from home sometimes, there are no guarantees we will do so together. This feels like the end of an era in our struggle with the Grippe Reborn. He remains and will continue to cause havoc, but not so much that governments will need to enact sweeping quarantine restrictions. We will muddle along and hope for the best, trusting that our inoculations will keep the worst of his powers at bay.

It is a measure of the Dread Lord’s power that neither of us was terribly ill and yet it has taken us nearly a month to fully return to normal. My cough has finally subsided and I feel as though I have my usual energy. My love is still coughing and sometimes suffers from brief shortness of breath, like an asthma attack which she had as a child. Hopefully both subside soon as her body heals itself.   For the next few months we should have good protection against his powers until he is able to adopt a new guise that allows him to slip through his defences. It may be our fate to do battle with the Dread Lord again and again, year after year. How many times will we be afflicted? Will it just be a cold or will it be something worse? There is no way of knowing truly, so we just go about our days not letting thoughts of that shadow our minds.

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 Seven Hundred Seventy Nine

Today is the day both my love and I are finally released from the Grippe Reborn and our isolation. Though I have been freed for a few days now, my love has been under quarantine and still suffering some ill effects from the Dread Lord. Because she was a close contact of me when I first began to show symptoms she has been in isolation for two weeks, while I only had to remain locked away for ten days. For the most part I have stayed inside these last days, still reluctant to venture out, only leaving the house for my morning run.

As with me, my love’s symptoms lingered on past their welcome, much to her frustration. Up until yesterday she was still congested and coughing, her voice a little hoarse. This morning she is well though and full of energy, no doubt in part because of her promised release. We both have work today but once that is done we will be heading out to walk about the city whose streets we have been absent from for nearly a month.

It is wonderful to be past both the trials of the Dread Lord and the strange dislocations of quarantine. Time moved strangely and now it feels as if we are about to rejoin the turning of the world again. We can go about with ease, for a few months at least, knowing the Dread Lord is unlikely to be able to slip past our defences again.

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 Seven Hundred Seventy Six

I awoke on Saturday and the Grippe Reborn was still within me, my nose stuffed and a persistent cough setting my chest heaving. It filled me with a kind of despair. Would this damned thing never let me go? I spent the morning grumpy and annoyed, while my love felt more hopeful. The worst of her battle with the Dread Lord had passed and she felt well on the road to recovery.

I chatted with some family and friends about our trials with the Dread Lord and then had noodles for lunch. It was like a cloud lifted from me. The congestion dissipated and I had an energy I hadn’t had since the Dread Lord descended upon me. I felt well and when I tested myself that evening I was negative. The next day, my tenth since I became aware of the Dread Lord’s touch, I felt like myself, though the cough was still in my chest.

My love is upon a similar journey, the Grippe Reborn lingering and malingering. It is only now that he has truly left that I can see that even though I felt fine last week, I was not myself. I have more energy now and am not tired at the end of a day’s work. My love will join me soon I think – she seems to be improving more quickly than I did. For now, we both spend our days and evenings sipping herbal tea to ease the irritation in our throat.

Last night I finally ventured outside, my isolation officially at an end. Neither of us felt like cooking so I went to procure us some dinner. It had just stopped raining when I stepped out, the world smelling of springtime and new beginnings. The sun was barely peeking through the clouds, reflecting brightly off the damp pavement. It felt disorienting to be out in the world again. The familiar streets, which for two years I had walked upon almost every day, were new to me again after almost a month away. I went into a shawarma place and chatted with the proprietors while they prepared our dinner, feeling as though I had come back to the world after a long time away.

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 Seven Hundred Seventy Two

For three days I felt miserable and tired, staying largely abed and in seclusion, venturing out only to eat. My love stayed apart from me, reluctant and distant, masking whenever I came into her presence. I slept well both nights though and on the third day I awoke feeling much better, the congestion in my head dissipating. In truth I felt much worse after each of my inoculations. I had no aches and pains, no deep chills, no nausea. It felt like a cold, something I wouldn’t have given much thought to before the Grippe Reborn returned.

The days themselves were strange and long. My sense of time was out of step, partly because of our travel and partly because of my illness. It felt like a week passed in which I did nothing, barely stirring from the room where I was isolating, alternating between napping and reading. My love lived her own separate life in the next rooms. We would message each other from our phones as if we were separated by more than these walls.

Despite our precautions my love began to experience symptoms, a certain heaviness in her chest and a scratch in her throat. It gradually became a cough and when she tested herself it was positive. It seems most likely she caught the Dread Lord’s touch from me before I realized I was ill. Yesterday she began to feel as I did those first two days, though she still worked having urgent tasks that needed completing. Today she is much the same, but I hope this weekend things will turn for her as they did for me.

For me the Dread Lord has lingered, still with a grasp upon me. I am congested and have developed a cough, but otherwise I feel like a slightly faded version of my normal self. By day’s end my congestion is usually gone and, though I am tired, I tell myself I will be well the next morning, only to wake up with the same congestion again. This morning I was certain I would feel better, my eighth day with the Dread Lord. Instead, he is still there, lurking, much to my frustration.

The week on the whole has grown more and more frustrating. When it was just I who was sick, my wife could still venture out, while masked, if necessity demanded. Now we are both trapped and must rely entirely upon the kindness of others. The weather has been miserable as well, cold and snowy, a taste of February in April. As I write this heavy snow is descending, huge flakes of a kind we only get in spring. I had thought by the time we returned from our travels we would be past all this, but it would seem not. On the one hand it makes our seclusion somewhat more bearable – it is not as though we would be venturing out much if we were healthy – but it does mean we cannot even get a breath of fresh air from our balcony. Some nights it has even been too cold to keep the windows open.

Our weekend will be one of enforced restfulness, which I am strangely looking forward to. How often does one have an excuse to lie about at nothing? I intend to take full advantage and hope that is enough to finally expel the Dread Lord from these premises.

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 Seven Hundred Sixty Eight

At long last, over two years after his arrival in these parts, the Dread Lord Grippe Reborn found me. I had been awaiting the moment, knowing it would happen, especially once the inoculations proved incapable of banishing him entirely. In his latest guise, finding the chinks in the armour of our inoculations and spreading like wildfire as a result, it seemed an inevitability. After two years of knowing only a few people who had been touched by him it suddenly seemed as though I knew dozens.

After two years in the Quarter, my love and I decided to travel to the Old World. It was glorious to be in a different place seeing how others go about their lives, wondering what our lives would be like there. Expanded horizons and the smell of a different place. Somewhere in our wanderings I encountered the Dread Lord. I could not tell you where, though there were times when he seemed to be stalking us. Every metro and train and bus had a coughing person upon it. We took care and masked but one can only take so much care when out among people.

Shortly after my return home I began to feel ill, my nose stuffy and my body a little tired. I told myself it was just from being on a plane for so long – they are such uncomfortable places to be – but when I tested myself I could no longer deny the truth. There was some fear in seeing those results, in wondering what the next days would bring, though I was confident the inoculations would keep me in good stead. There was also a kind of relief. After two years of doing so much to avoid this confrontation, of wondering if it was upon me with every scratch in my throat, now it finally was.

My love was not touched by the Dread Lord, which was a considerable relief. Two of us ill at the same time would have been a struggle. We set about separating our lives within our home – I to one room and her to the rest – hoping that I could spare her whatever suffering awaited me. And that night, for the first time in more than two years we slept apart, a wall separating us. Both of us were too tired to make much note of the occasion. We slept, waiting for the what the morning would bring.

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 Seven Hundred Sixty Five

A dream, hazy like a fading memory, yet sharp with colour and vivid with a reality that drifts away like fog as you enter it.

A dark corner of a crowded restaurant, the hum of conversations floating all around. Peking duck and rice wrappers. Outside the dusk settles around the plastic red lanterns strung across the street busy with people coming and going, laughing and talking.

An ancient ruin now carefully maintained for tourists to wander about. A forgotten old town wall, swallowed upon amidst later constructions as a city blossomed. A house where a heroic general was born who died in a war over these Dominions.

A wide, muddy river, so deep the current is barely visible. Proud buildings stand on either side, memories of a glorious age long past. The city sprawls outward from either bank, endless, consuming all in its path. The sun finds its way through the clouds again.

Mind the gap between the platform and the train. The doors close and you are left behind. You stop by a pier where a queen once disembarked in triumph only to end in ruin, and take a picture, trying to imagine how all that might have been.

A dozen languages spoken on every street you walk down. People from everywhere, all gathered in this one place that wanders along the banks of the great river. There is always something happening and you wish that the dream wouldn’t stop, but you know eventually you will wake up.

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 Seven Hundred Thirty Seven

They walk along the muddy laneway, avoiding the deepest puddles they can just make out in the meagre light of the pre-dawn. Calves are bawling somewhere off in the gloom. Their mothers respond in low tones, chewing their cud. There is a touch of snow atop the grass that edges the path and beyond in the surrounding fields, a glimmering veneer that arrived sometime in the night and will be gone as soon as the sun rises fully.

They stop at the shed first, slipping inside as quietly as they can, flicking on a light in the corner. The two cows stir slightly at their entrance, neither bothering to rise. One has a calf curled up beside her, born the night before, its hair dry but still with a sheen from the placenta that once surrounded it. The other is alone yet, chewing patiently. Taking her time, one of them says.

They leave the shed and walk through the nearby corrals, bouncing flashlights off the cows who look on indifferently familiar with this routine. There are no calves to be found in the straw bedding or anywhere else in the pens, unusual for this time of year. They notice one cow has a full udder and is standing with her tail held away from her body. Without a comment one of them heads to close off the laneway, while the other opens the gate and chases the cow from the pen. She ambles unconcerned along the laneway and they herd her into the shed beside the other two cows.

They leave her there in its warmth, opening up the laneway again and returning home for another hour of sleep before dawn comes and it is time to work.

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 Seven Hundred Thirty

Today marks the second anniversary of when I began to chronicle the events following the Dread Lord Grippe Reborn’s arrival in these parts. I remember those strange first days vividly. The disorienting timelessness as our daily lives dwindled while the news of the Dread Lord’s spread was ceaseless. We went for walks through the shuttered community and there were signs for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations that never came that stayed up for months. It is harder to recall the weeks or months leading up to his arrival. The day to day ebb and flow of our lives has been lost. That world and those lives are like a distant epoch now. We can never return to it.

Now with inoculations and our other defences against the Dread Lord there is hope that we can resume something like that existence again. It will be different, of course, how could it not be. We have all been changed by the past two years and there is no returning to what was. The roads back are lost and overgrown. We can only carve a new path.

The Grippe Reborn is still here though and will be a part of our lives going forward. His power will ebb and flow, but we know now what is needed to hold him at bay. I am sure there are nasty surprises still in store, but nothing like those first panic-stricken days, when dread and uncertainty ruled. We know what he is now and that means so much.

The protests in our neighbourhood are also still a part of our lives. Every Saturday a thousand people gather and march in the streets demanding the end of something. All the quarantine measures have been lifted in these parts, but that has only emboldened them. As with the occupiers in the Dominion capital, this is not really about the mandates, if it ever really was. These people are demanding a kind of revolution, an overturning of the order of things, and a return to a world that never was. They want that imposed upon us all in the name of freedom. The police do nothing and the governments announce they are very concerned. And every Saturday our streets are overtaken again.

I am tired of it, so many of us are. Lately there have been people from the community gathering to block the protesters, attempting to take back our neighbourhood. It is hard to see how this ends well. Eventually it will subside, but like the Grippe Reborn it will continue percolating, overwhelmed by the roar of other things, the swell of our lives, never quite receding entirely.

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 Seven Hundred Twenty Three

A day that is neither winter nor spring, but occupying the nether regions between the two. The sky is overcast with wispy grey clouds that look as though they should dissipate under the glare of the sun, yet they persist throughout the morning chill. The streets are quiet now, with only distant sounds of traffic that disappear as abruptly as they arrive. A few people are about, rushing forward, harried with their heads down, casting nervous glances when they pass by. Above the narrow cloud of a jet stream marks borders that slowly dissolve in the sky.

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 Seven Hundred Sixteen

One week of war and a new world order and another week of the Dread Lord Grippe Reborn. We have almost forgotten his existence with all the terrible news coming from Ukraine and the dread that it will engulf us all in a conflagration. Yet he persists, no doubt delighted by our inattention, our tired eyes unwilling to look any longer.

In these parts with March upon us, the last of the restrictions has been lifted. Masks are no longer required and gatherings of any size are allowed. We shall see what the results of that are. Some will remain cautious still, of course, but most are happy to be done with all this. I was out yesterday for a coffee and no one who entered the cafe wore a mask and it was the same when I went to get a sandwich for lunch. On our walks to my love’s work in the morning the streets are much busier than they have been as people begin the return to their offices. The institution I work for has announced a graduated return with flexibility, so we shall see when I am asked to go back.

It is strange how normal everything appears after two years of mostly living under quarantine strictures. I suppose last summer it was much the same, but that felt very different. Then it was a comfort and a celebration. We had just been inoculated and the future it seemed was ours. That ended in disaster and so now I am wary rather than hopeful. The Grippe Reborn has more guises to adopt, more tricks to play and we shall not be free of him for a good long while it seems. If I thought our government’s would be more willing to respond to that eventuality I would feel more comfortable, but I do not.

They have proven themselves feckless and callow, both in this crisis and the crisis engulfing Ukraine. It has been obvious for a long time what Putin was and yet he was allowed to take and take in Ukraine and Georgia and Belarus and elsewhere. His cronies were welcomed with open arms so long as they had money to offer, money stolen from the country and its future. Now, at least, they seem to realize the gravity of their earlier mistakes and are willing to take a strong stand. It almost gives one hope.

As always, things can get worse. They can also get better, but it is hard remember that, let alone keep any faith in it. The future remains unwritten.