The Heavy

Title: The Heavy

Submitted by: Christi G.

A brief musing on COVID anxiety.

My heart is heavy. Not so much my heart, but my whole chest. And I mean that literally. It’s a symptom of the virus, but it’s also a symptom of anxiety and I don’t have a cough so I think I’m probably fine.

The fight or flight fear comes in waves and settles in right across the middle of my sternum. Just SITS there, gets comfortable, makes itself right at home. Just hangs out while I read the latest death toll numbers until my brain can’t handle it and tries to keep things superficial but reminds me of the million every day things that aren’t and maybe won’t ever be the same. When can I see my family and friends and the man I was trying to date again? What about my Rolling Stones tickets? Hunkers down hard while I watch the daily briefing from the White House.

Do you know I had never heard the word gaslighting before Donald Trump? Like, I’d experienced it, but never knew it had a name until I heard it applied to him. This is a new vocabulary. Do you know I’m essential? I am. I have a letter to prove it. I carry it in my work bag in case someone stops me to ask why I’m not flattening the curve. Do you know about flattening the curve? It’s science.

I go to the store for essentials, wearing a mask a neighbor made for me and my hands wrapped in Clorox wipes. I smiled at a stranger but they can’t tell. I’m in line, six feet behind the person in front of me and other shoppers keep cutting in front of me, not even seeing me, just seeing a gap in the line. Not on my watch. The heavy just propels my rage. “That’s NOT the line,” I tell all of them, “the LINE is back HERE. You’ve got to follow the markings on the floor.” One man rolls his eyes at me, “Sorry to yell at your patrons,” I tell the cashier, “but, Jesus, how hard is it to follow the rules?”

“Girl. You’re good. I do it all day, it’s nice to have some help,” he’s burly looking and effeminate sounding and I tell him most of us appreciate how much this sucks for folks who have work with the public and he sighs ringing up my cheap pinot grigio and tells me, “Girl. That’s so nice of you to say. But I just want to go home and drink. Have a glass for me, huh?” I tell him I will. And I do. I have two for him and one for me. The heartburn from slamming cheap wine just adds to the heavy.