Kaylee’s Plague

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Not many people could say one of their favourite memories took place in the rain, but six-year-old Kaylee could. On that wonderful day, she ran through the park, laughing with glee as she jumped in every puddle that she could find. Mom and Dad were not angry that she was getting her clothes wet. They were happy too. They were all happy. Kaylee would think a lot about this memory in the unhappier days that followed.

It all started with those serious TV people. While Kaylee used the TV to watch fun movies like Cinderella, Frozen, and The Wizard of Oz, Mom and Dad used it to watch serious people talk seriously about serious things. These people used a lot of serious words like “President Trump,” “Congress,” and “impeachment.” Kaylee did not know what these words meant, and she did not care to know as she was sure the answers would be boring. She did not understand why her parents liked to watch the TV people when they could be watching Queen Elsa singing “Let It Go” instead, but that was just what adults were like.

One day, the TV people started saying a new word: “coronavirus.” Kaylee didn’t give it any thought. It was just another serious word from the serious world of the serious TV people. Besides, the serious things the TV people talked about had never affected her life before, so why should this? Or at least that’s what she thought until, in this case, it did.

“Kaylee, I have something important to tell you,” said Mom. “You aren’t going to be going to Kindergarten for a while.”

“Why?” asked Kaylee, only partially listening as she was more interested in playing with her My Little Pony toys.

“The coronavirus is making so many people sick that they’re closing all the schools,” said Mom.

Kaylee’s eyes went wide. She was familiar with people, even the teacher, staying home from school if they were sick, but had no idea that there was a point at which they’d close the school entirely because too many people were sick. Perhaps this wouldn’t be a bad thing for her. Kaylee would miss her friends, of course, but at least she would get a break from having to learn about those complicated letters and numbers, right?

But no, it turned out she was expected to carry on all that difficult work at home. Even worse, she was no longer allowed to go on playdates.

“But can’t I go to Zoe’s house?” she pleaded. “Zoe never gets sick!”

It didn’t matter. She was only allowed to play with Zoe through the computer screen now. It was also the only way in which she was allowed to talk to Grandma, whom they used to visit every Saturday in her nursing home. In fact, Kaylee wasn’t allowed to leave the house much at all anymore, and it was making her stir-crazy!

At the same time, they were suddenly running low on many things, namely food, soap, and toilet paper. Mom and Dad didn’t take Kaylee with them when they went shopping anymore, but she saw images of empty store shelves on the TV.

“Those damn hoarders!” said Dad. “If I meet one of those human pigs who hoarded everything and only left scraps for the rest of us, I’m going to violate social distancing with my fist!”

Kaylee imagined pigs, walking on two legs and wearing human clothes, coming into the stores and buying everything. Why did she have to be kept inside when interesting things like this were happening? And most frustratingly, the TV coverage never seemed to show the “human pigs.” Kaylee supposed that they just didn’t get them on video.

Her parents were not only mad at these mysterious pigs, who apparently showed up at the same time as the coronavirus. They were also angry at some of the serious people who appeared on the TV. Kaylee didn’t care about that, of course. It was just adults being adults. She was, however, concerned and a little scared by the fact that her parents were increasingly angry at each other.

“We can’t afford all this anymore,” said Dad, “not now that the Chinese virus has cost me my job!”

“You shouldn’t call it that,” said Mom. “It’s racist.”

“How’s it racist?” he asked hotly. “It started in China, didn’t it?”

“Yes, but you don’t need to talk about it like that!”

“Oh, so it’s racist to notice things now, is it?”

So, it seemed this coronavirus began in China. The only thing Kaylee knew about China was that it was where Mulan took place. Kaylee hoped Mulan was okay.

Kaylee now spent a lot of time staring out her window. It was a beautiful day, perfect for going to the park, but they didn’t go to the park anymore. It was now considered too dangerous. It didn’t seem possible that they could be in such danger while in such nice, peaceful surroundings.

Looking out at that sunny weather, Kaylee longed to go back to that rainy day in the park. Back then, her parents weren’t so angry, they weren’t running low on anything, and the serious words of the serious TV people stayed in their serious world where they belonged.

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- Total nr. of readings: 588 Copyright © The author [2020] All Rights Reserved. This story may not be reproduced without the express written permission of the author except for personal use.

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