Hello all, sorry I disappeared for a bit, but with the state of the world, I think it is excusable. As the global pandemic rages on, and I begin my fourth week of self-quarantine. I have learned two things about myself. First, stress and creativity do not go hand in hand for me. When I am really stressed creativity turns off. The second thing I have learned how unusual circumstances can lead to interesting story prompts. This brings me to Quarantine Stories. Right now we are living through a global event, time will be measure as before and after the pandemic. All of this being said, I want to say thank you so much to all of the front line workers, doctors, nurses, law enforcement, package carriers, mailmen and mailwomen etc. Bravery is stocking shelves, delivering mail, and caring for the sick without proper PPE these days. Thank you to these stoic individuals who are keeping the basic necessities functioning.
As I said earlier, the thought of quarantine started to percolate my creativity. I thought of fun, heartbreaking, and awkward scenarios where characters are effected by quarantine. I had this thought two weeks ago and my brain gnawed on the idea. So the more I thought about it, I think this might be an interesting creative exercise to write a series of very short stories where the only rule of the story is that the characters must be stuck together in quarantine. The quarantine rules do not have to match current laws set by global governments, there is a bit of creativity here. I do not mean for this to be a disrespectful exercise in any way. Like most of us globally, I am looking for a way to fill my time. My goal is one story a week. We’ll see how it goes.
So let’s begin:
Quarantine Story #1: April 8, 2020 (Mark & Gemma)
Gemma woke as Mark’s arm pulled her in closer to him. She opened her eyes not believing it was morning again. She surveyed the yellow walls of the studio apartment, from the futon where she and Mark had spent all weekend in each other’s arms. She rolled over slightly and his eyes opened.
“You’re awake,” Mark said, his voice still raspy from sleep.
“Mmm, I am. I need to get moving or I am going to miss my flight.”
“Nope, I’m not letting you go, you’re my prisoner,” he joked.
“Well, I can come to be your prisoner next time I am in St. Louis. I need to go home to England.
Gemma watched Mark’s playful smile pierce with a pang of sadness, and she felt remorse for it. This is insanity she told herself. She followed Mark home after a wild night out and proceeded to have the wildest sexual experience of her life thus far. They had only left the bed to eat and shower. They binge-watched old kung-fu movies, both finding a true fan in each other. Gemma sat up and looked for her phone. She had not checked it since Saturday morning. Her job was high stress and she knew everything could wait for one weekend of fun.
Mark propped up as he watched Gemma walk around the small apartment, naked. He found her boldness and confidence incredibly sexy. He could not pull his eyes away from her petite frame, that was curvy in all of the best places. It didn’t hurt that her black hair swayed across her back as she walked towards her purse. Mark tried not to salivate at the thought of sleeping with Gemma one last time. As she dug in her purse for her phone he got off of the futon and pulled a t-shirt over his head.
“At least let me make you breakfast first,” he said as he walked over to the tiny kitchenette.
He poured began to make a pot of coffee as he realized Gemma had not answered him.
She still ignored him. He turned around and saw her standing still naked as she held the phone in one hand scrolling through her phone and her other hand over her mouth. Reading her face, Mark knew something awful had happened. He walked over to her.
“Are you okay,” he asked.
Hearing the concern in his voice, triggered her attention.
“My flight’s been cancelled. The borders have been closed. I…”
“What? Why? What happened?”
“It’s this virus. All travel has been shut down. My mum and dad are back home in the UK, my auntie, and friends.”
“Does it say how long?”
“I don’t know I haven’t gotten that far yet.”
“Here, let me look,” Mark said as he turned around looking for his own phone.
“Turn the telly on,” Gemma instructed.
Mark grabbed the remote on the nightstand and clicked it on. President Malcolm stood at the podium, in the middle of a speech. Gemma came over and sat next to where Mark sat, both transfixed by the American President declaring the borders of the United States were now closed, as globally travel was banned due to a rapidly spreading global pandemic. Gemma reached back and pulled the blanket from the futon around her. Mark wrapped his arm around not sure if it was to comfort her or himself. As the President concluded Gemma looked down at her phone.
“I have to call parents, would that be okay?”
“Of course, I’ll shower to give you some privacy.”
Mark stood, and realized he should probably call his own family. He grabbed his phone and walked into the bathroom, shutting the door behind himself. With his apartment being a true studio, the bathroom was the only enclosed room, where one could give and get privacy. He turned on the shower, hoping the noise would block out his own calls home. He talked to his parents who were isolated on their farm in rural Illinois and were prepared. They urged him to head to the farm, and it sounded like a good idea, but he wasn’t sure yet. He wasn’t going to just leave Gemma in his apartment.
He showered in record time and put a towel around his waist as he walked out of the bathroom, hoping he wouldn’t disturb Gemma. She sat on the futon her head in her hands. Mark walked over softly and sat down next to her. She could smell the scent of his shampoo and could feel the moisture evaporating off of his skin.
“Were you able to get ahold of your parents and your family,” he asked.
“Where am I going to go. Your? President said that the borders are closed for the next six weeks at minimum. I’ve called my hotel and they are requesting guests check out. I guess they called over the weekend to alert me to this, but the one weekend I put my phone away, the world ends.”
She wiped a tear from her cheek as Mark stood up.
“You’re going to come home with me. My family owns a farm just across the state line in Illinois, in Berlin. It’s tiny, they have a big farm with plenty of room. I called them when you made your calls and they invited me, us, out.”
“You told your family about me?”
“Not exactly, but you are welcome to come along.”
“I’m a stranger to them.”
“You’re not to me. I know this really isn’t the time for this, considering all that is going on but I like you, I mean, I really like you. That being said you don’t have to feel the same way about me, I know how nuts that sounds as we’ve only just met. The offer stands no matter your feelings for me.”
Gemma wiped both of her cheeks. There was something about her curled up in his blanket, upset and afraid, that compelled him to lean down and kiss her but he resisted the urge. She looked up at him, with her piercing green eyes, and tear-stained cheeks.
“I couldn’t it’s rude.”
“Not here, I promise you. The city is going to get nuts, you have nowhere else to go. I’d offer to let you stay in the studio but I don’t have food here, and I don’t think it will be safe. Please come with me?”
Gemma sat considering her options. She hadn’t said it but she felt the same way about Mark. She chewed her bottom lip, thinking through her options, while she looked at the perfect specimen of a man standing in front of her. The night she had found his dark curly mop of hair adorable the night she had met him, and his chocolate-brown eyes seemed to melt her insides in all of the best ways. He was clean-shaven on the night they had met, but he now had the beginnings of a beard. His muscular build reassured her that he could protect her in the new reality they had woken up to.
“Are you sure it won’t be an imposition?”
“No way. My parents would be thrilled. Here I can give you the address that way you can tell your family where you’ll be if that helps?”
Mark bent down looking at her squarely.
“My mother’s name is Betty and my father’s name is George. They’ve lived in Berlin their whole lives. The family farm has been in my family for three generations now. I am their only son, my sister Carina lives in Florida with her husband. She is staying down there to be near her in-laws. You’ll actually be doing me a favor, my parents are almost in their seventies. It would be nice to have someone my own age to talk to. I promise you it is the safest place on the planet, there is almost a three-mile square perimeter of corn around the entire farm.”
Mark reached up and tucked a long piece of her bangs behind her ear.
“All right. Thank you. Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. I promise you we’ll be safe there.”
Gemma stood up and began to look for her clothes. She dressed in Friday night’s club attire that she had worn to Mark’s apartment. Her bags had been packed up and were waiting at the concierge the hotel had instructed her.
“I’m sorry but can we please go to the hotel for my bags before we leave town?”
Mark zipped the suitcase that sat on the futon and pulled it off of onto the floor, the metal wheels of it clicking on the wood floor.
“Ready? We’d better get on the road, so we are in our shelter place by 5 pm. as the President said.
Gemma nodded that she was as Mark pulled the suitcase behind him. He reached out his hand for hers and she took it as they walked out of the apartment into the unknown.