Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘A wild peacock shows up’

By Eileen E. SchmitzNoa HickersonRachel HeymanYumiko Yoshioka

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

THE FACE ALWAYS GIVES IT AWAY

When the pupil in her right eye shakes subtly and the skin beneath her eyes turns red, she’s hurting. When she catches herself mid-smile, she’s happy but afraid of weakness. An abstract movement, an uneven blink, or a sharp smile always gives it away. She trapped me in lies that I unknowingly took onto myself. People take attention. Attention that I failed to acknowledge before I found fear in the way my hands clung to one another, or the way I bit my lip on the right side. I learned to read feeble movements because they are fragments of forgotten stories.

— Rachel Heyman (Pacific Palisades, California)

Wooden pier, Venice, Italy.

* * *

STILL MOVING FORWARD

At first I think outside is empty. It’s hard not to as I walk along that barren sidewalk. I see rows of houses with flickering TVs inside big windows. Outside is empty and we’re all trapped inside like zoo animals, cages so close together but lives separated.

A bird flew and rested close to me. I almost held my breath as I watched it, free and unaware. In the silence of my birdwatching, I heard it. The wind blew through the trees in an ancient melody as birds sang along. Outside isn’t empty. It’s alive, moving forward, with or without us.

— Noa Hickerson (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Pencil sketch of a bird.

* * *

WHERE IS MY SPRING?

Ever since I was forced to return home from college in the United States, my life has been moving very quickly. Everything has changed and the life I knew has suddenly disappeared. I was anxious about the situation and very scared to go home on an airplane. But honestly, I was missing home and looking forward to graduating as soon as possible. 

There was one thing I missed from campus: spring at Gustavus. I see beautiful cherry blossoms here at home, but they make me sad all the same. 

Where are my lovely flowers?

— Yumiko Yoshioka (Japan)

Flowers on campus.

* * *

HOME TO ROOST

Gold and green, with an iridescent blue head, nowadays a wild peacock shows up, infatuating me with full plume, feathers down, then helicopter leaps onto the rooftop, resting beside the front door, eating the proper birdseed – banana when I have it. He doesn’t care for apples. Absolute supermodel material.

In an organizational fete both cultural and digital, I discover photographs of his visit last autumn. Could explain why housecats yowling is reserved for raccoons on the deck.

The unnamed peacock’s telling begins: Strawberry blonde, midlife, nowadays a friendly human shows up, seems she was a workaholic, now birdfeeder slash photographer.

— Eileen E. Schmitz (Sequim, Washington)

(Top photo: Between online meetings, it’s feeding time.)

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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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