By Clarissa

Written as part of A User's Guide to a Pandemic

I WAS ALWAYS rushing. Rushing between bed and breakfast, rushing

between one bit of cereal to another, rushing for the train in the next two

minutes, rushing to live. Life is short, they tell you, and I believe it to be short.

So short, the alarms ringing, the watches sweating, your phone buzzing. You

are late again. There’s so much to do and so little time. Your head is numb

and your heart is beating off beat – then it all stopped. All of a sudden it all

stopped. Your life could end in a minute, the world around you is dying, dying

faster than it is living.


You look around you. I look around me. Time is still passing, slower

now. People are blurring in the foreground, things are fading out of focus,

and there stood a figure. You. I haven’t seen you in a long time. You only

appeared as passing shadows while I brushed my teeth with fury, splashed

my face with cold wakefulness, a few awkward smiles in pictures taken

months ago. How are you? How are you living? The dishes piled up in your

sink, the table cluttered. The clothes piled up outside your closet, the floor

unvacuumed. Later, you said, these are not important now, I don’t have the

time. Don’t have the time to go for morning runs, don’t have the time to eat

properly, don’t have the time to clean properly, don’t have the time to care,

properly. There are 24 hours in a day. Be aware of that. Your 24 hours. It is

a long time if you look at it. Twenty-four movies. And they are all your life,

every single hour. Life is long. Have you ever sat still with nothing in your

hands for an entire hour? Stop, don’t scroll. Put that cold metal bar away from

your warm breathing skin for an hour. Fold that laundry properly, smooth out

all the corners, iron the edges, take responsibility. You are responsible for you.

First and last of all.

A User’s Guide to a Pandemic, proudly supported by:

Program sponsor logo