Some days ago, I registered for a creative writing class and was asked to write a short story about our current pandemic situation i.e the lockdown, Coronavirus, isolation etc. I had about two days to come up with something but I had nothing until one hour to the deadline. I could not miss the deadline so I had to do something quick!
Earlier in the day, I got invited to a small birthday party. Of course, I turned it down cause I wasn’t up for going out. It was 11PM when I thought, “What if I did go? What’s the worst possible scenario?” That, my friends, is how When She Knew was born.
Read and be blessed!
When She Knew – A Coronavirus Short Story
Was it when she saw him outside, grabbing his chest and coughing into his hand? Was it when he shook hands with almost everyone and her eyes followed? Or was it when everyone formed a wide circle around the man on the dance-floor who was coughing hysterically and someone called the NCDC? Was that when she knew she’d made a mistake?
Just over a week ago, Amaka was in her room, lamenting about the injustice COVID-19 was doing to her social and economic life. She was tired of sitting at home, attending zoom meetings and hoping the virus doesn’t fly through her window . She needed something more. Something to make her feel… alive?
Then she got a text message. There would be a party in the estate that night and she was invited.
“Just a few people, not more than the recommended number.” At least that’s what the message said.
A private party with a few invited guests but someone had told someone who told someone who told someone and nearly half the estate was there. By the time Amaka got there, bodies were everywhere. She could have turned around and went home but her brain needed the rush, her heart needed the freedom and she walked in, ready to dance the lockdown away.
Amaka sauntered in, shook hands with familiar faces, met some more people and drank out of a bottle touched by the same waiters who had served everyone.
Seven days later, Amaka was on her bathroom floor, crying. She should have waited at the party like the NCDC asked. She should have, but she panicked and ran home like most people did. She’d done a bit of crying since then, but nothing compared to what she had been doing for the past days.
“I have a strong immune system. I’ll survive even if I get the virus.” That’s what she told Bayo when he tried to convince her not to go for the party. What Amaka didn’t know was that she had Leukemia and the moment she and her immune system stepped into the party packed full of people rubbing against each other, Amaka had unknowingly signed her death warrant.
The next day, it became estate news that the man who was coughing at the party tested positive for the virus and was instantly declared the estate’s index case. It seemed like someone had poured cold water on the whole estate. The only place that was buzzing with activity was the group chat filled with angry messages of angry people who blamed and insulted the party goers for putting everyone in danger.
The NCDC was going round to all houses, collecting samples for testing and Amaka spent her time trying to remember if she had come in contact with the index case. That didn’t matter. She was at the party.
Unsure of her fate, she didn’t come out of her room and was in no mood for any food her boyfriend brought to the door. Out of guilt, she also didn’t speak to Bayo. She had put him in danger and probably won’t forgive herself if he turns up positive for the virus.
It was six days after the party that Amaka started to cough from her sleep. She woke up with a scratchy throat and went through the day severely feeling like she was running out of breath when she wasn’t running miles. Then and only then did she speak to Bayo.
A few calls, some tests and a positive result later, Amaka found herself on a bed at the Mainland Isolation Center fighting to stay alive without a respirator. She was never again going to feel… alive.