Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘Marooned midway, on a tiny island’

By Adam SébireAnsel OommenKristy GordonSunny Sun

Reader-submitted stories of the COVID-19 pandemic, in no more than 100 words. Read past stories hereSubmit your own here.

BETWEEN SEEING AND BEING

April 8, Sydney: We watch the world suffer as we wait for local suffering to unfold. Waiting is a void approached with fear and residual gratitude for the living. As we reduce our worlds to domestic and familial, the forced stillness of waiting feels unbearable. My art practice seeks to communicate the liminal space between ‘seeing’ and ‘being.’ I record in layers of marks the fleeting glimpses of the expansive, brutal, exquisitely beautiful Australian landscape and my sensory responses. Now, the marks also record a visceral sense of waiting for devastation. The repetition of mark-making forces order, slowness, calm.

 Kristy Gordon (Sydney, Australia)

Acrylic paint, metallic pigment, and ink on Hahnemuhle, 29 x 21cm.

* * *

NOTHINGNESS

Sofa, family room, home. Closest spot to the windows. Wifi works best. Legs on the footrest, I crawl into a soft blanket. Morning light pours gently onto the marble floor.
WeChat… family texting about how it’s still not safe to go out. Exit. Weibo… scrolling down real-time trending keywords: “Beijing will be in epidemic control for a longer time.” What does “epidemic control” even mean?
Soon, the thought that I have done absolutely nothing startles me. The sunlight shifts closer, and in my long contemplation of the nothingness, I fall into a daydream.

 Sunny Sun (Dalian, China)

Some light.

* * *

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

Oftentimes, clinical laboratory technologists are out of sight and, as a result, out of mind in the public realm, even though we are just as impacted by this pandemic as our other colleagues in healthcare. The paradox of being a technologist is that our patients are physically present, but not entirely, and they are psychologically present, but not entirely. Despite this ambiguity, when dealing with hundreds of samples per day and viewing the results before everyone else, we feel the brewing storm looming over the horizon just the same.

 Ansel Oommen, MLS (ASCP) (New York, New York)

Two technologists processing SARS-CoV-2 samples during the night shift.

* * *

SLOWING DOWN

Borders snap shut ahead of me in Greenland and behind me in Svalbard. I find myself marooned midway, on a tiny island in the North Sea. Kindly locals let me stay in the lighthouse keeper’s quarters and ask me to self-isolate. I’m guessing the light’s former custodians would laugh at the imposition. Through the (now-automated) lantern’s fresnel lens the world is turned upside down. But there’s no sense of anything amiss, other than a sky curiously free of the usual trans-Atlantic contrails. I redraft my neglected PhD. Maybe Slow Travel is just what the doctor ordered?

 Adam Sébire (Utsira Lighthouse, Norway)

(Top photo: Traveling at speed may shrink the planet, but we begin to learn its true cost.)

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This series is edited by Thomas Peterson. One of the editors of Artists & Climate Change, he is also a theatre director and researcher whose work focuses on the climate crisis.

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Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

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