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a rainy afternoon during the pandemic



It is Cinco de Mayo, so I stopped at the Mexican grocer by the lake with all the ducks. A lady in the shop was wearing her mask under her nose. It was a miracle she had a mask on at all since the mandate had lifted. I suppose half-hearted is better than nothing. Wait, a mask under your nose is not better than nothing. I take that back.


It was pouring rain, but I drove to the lake. A film shoot was set up on the road to the parking lot. Trailers were parked here and there. I had to stop at the railway tracks for a five minutes for a long rambling train. I took a Boomerang for my daughter to show her baby boy. I called them on video when I was walking on the muddy path to the lake. I showed them the five fluffy ducklings (goslings?) waddling after their Canada Geese parents. It wasn’t busy at the spit because of the weather, but a few diehards were there. I showed the baby-man as many ducks as I could on my phone before walking back to the car. There were wood ducks and more Canada Geese (the devil’s birds) and lots of mallards. And red-wing blackbirds who sing the prettiest songs.


I drove to the pharmacy to get my monthly allotment of rapid tests. They were out of stock again. I’ve only managed to get one month’s worth before they ran out. The government lied to us (again). There were some no-maskers in the shop so I avoided them. Almost all the no-maskers were white people. I hated them for not caring if my boy gets sick. It made me sad to have hate in my heart.


I bought face powder and nighttime cold meds so I can sleep and paid for them at the self-check out to avoid the long line at the cashier. I ordered my boy and I extra-hot mochas and fetched them from the coffee shop – in and out quickly in ten seconds - and sat in the car waiting to pick him up from class.


He emerged right at 3 pm like he always does. The parking lot was empty and I worried that students were sick. Just one person was away he told me, a girl whose name I can’t remember now. We drove home and left the vehicle outside because my husband was going for patio beers with his old colleague. (He later cancelled. All the patios were closed because of the rain and we don’t do inside eating/drinking. We have a risk budget each week for the virus and it gets used up so our boy can go to his school).


We don’t throw caution to the wind anymore. The carefree days are gone. We have flown back and forth to the next province to see the new baby. That’s important. We test before we see him. We also got our booster there because we couldn’t get one here. We can’t get our next booster here either so we are driving to the States next week to get our shots.


We walk into our condo lobby. I get to the elevator at the same time as a no-mask man walks up. I pressed the button first, so I had priority. When the elevator arrives, I get on with my boy. The no-mask man tries to get on with us. NO! I say firmly. We don’t share elevators. YOU AREN’T WEARING A MASK I say, as if he doesn’t know that. I can tell on his face that he can’t believe it, but the elevator door closes before he can even say a word.

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