Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘Observation may inoculate us’

By Jennifer Dorrell, Kathleen Bergen, Ross Richardson, Sherry Bokser

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


Mom itched to return to NYC, so on March 13th I rented a car and headed to Florida. Thirteen hours in, an epiphany: “We’re safer in Orlando. Lower population density, more hospital beds per capita, more living space for us.” She acquiesced, but ten weeks later she remains homesick. Masked and gloved, we take daily walks; I extol the sunshine, blue skies, blooming magnolias, swaying palms. I point out the hawks and herons, egrets and ducklings, and occasionally an otter who plays in the ponds. I do this with a joy I pray is as contagious as the virus.

— Sherry Bokser (New York, New York)

A great white egret greeting us at the first pond on our mile walk.

* * *


Having a houseguest for two months was one oddity. Normally, she would take road trips to South Lake Tahoe or to The City. But not this time. Because all but the natural rotation of the Earth stopped, my friend was waylaid in my home. As a pre-coronavirus germaphobe, using masks, hand sanitizer and gloves was not too far from her errand-filled routine. My life, unchanged mostly, danced on the edge of depression. My commute, an eerily fast step each morning into a surreal workday, was essential. On the way, I could see the crisp city skyline. The news was the pollutant.

— Jennifer Dorrell (Folsom, California)

(Top photo: It’s a small world after all!)

* * *


Sunlight seeps through the windows, pooling at my feet in bright silver puddles. The puddles slowly slither along the ground, their form seamlessly stretching and contracting. They climb the four walls that contain me, before gradually withering away and evaporating into the cool winter air.

Outside the windows, clouds sheepishly cross the sky. My eyes follow them. I watch as they sail across the great expanse. I’m envious of their freedom, of their naivety. But I watch them dance all the same. Then the sunlight sinks into the soil, and I’m bathed in darkness once again.

— Ross Richardson (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)

Fragments of the Self, original artwork.

* * *


Leah, psych major, says COVID is karma – mental health’s reprisal for its public stigma. Fear of sickness, fear of going out – they’re not so crazy now, are they?

Madeline, poet, says COVID is a media metaphor. Tech disconnect has sickened us socially. The cure lies in noticing. Hummingbird on wire still or delicate petal snow-fall. Slow down, look up, breathe, pay attention.

I think the answer lies in between these disparate views: perhaps COVID is a reminder that we cannot prevent all ills, but observation may inoculate us from the myopic view of the screen. Protect yourself.

— Kathleen Bergen (Santa Monica, California)

Slow down, look up…


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.


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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