Chronicling the Days – Sylwia Bielec

Welcome to QWF series ‘Chronicling the Days’, specifically for this strange uneasy time of coronavirus and pandemic, of social distancing and self isolation, of lockdown and quarantine.

In April 2020, we invited writers in Quebec to submit a story – of a single day at this time, because while we’re all living through this time, we know that we’re not all living through it in the same way. To stay connected – to know how we’re getting on. Every story valid.

Submissions have now closed for the series but we’ll be continuing to publish the pieces throughout May. Keep an eye for them here, or join us on the QWF FB Community page, and let the authors know if their words resonated.

This piece is by Sylwia Bielec, writing in March 2020.

Photo: Sylwia Bielec

Day 14. You think it’s about the isolation but it’s not. I work at home already, and with my daughter home, I am less alone than before. It’s almost fun, like a weird, tense vacation. I don’t have any face to face meetings that should have been an email either. As a GenX latchkey kid, I am well equipped to handle both aloneness and boredom, although I am rarely afflicted with the latter. 

Addendum: Cooked two meals, and made one snack. We took two walks, did a workout from YouTube. A full day of work, including a meeting where people just needed to talk about their new lives. Sent a bunch of follow-up emails. Texted my mom. Bought a gift online. Everything is normal and nothing is.

Day 15. Most days go by surprisingly fast, filled with online meetings with people who don’t seem to want to get off line, as though our little Zoom-tiled wall of people was holding us all up. Had to mute the local parents group – parents calling out other parents for taking their little ones to deserted parks for a few minutes, possibly taking precautions or not and did you see them near the slide? Are they looking for someone to blame, when it comes? It was So-and-so, I saw her and her kids at Dollarama and they were touching the toys, it was them. Or it was Whosit when he touched the carrousel with his contaminated hands, he wasn’t compliant, I saw him.

Addendum: worked a full day, made two meals, roasted some pork, bought a baguette. Had ice cream. Took two walks.

Day 16. Spirits continue to roller coaster as the first hopeful milestone is passed, and we contemplate the month ahead. We have lists. We have bursts of energy and ideas followed by a slow but sure sinking into lethargy. There is guilt at our moments of sloth and there is relief that there are no witnesses. Everything matters and nothing does. We clutch at our productive moments like to a lifebuoy. The sun on our faces is a benediction. 

Addendum: Worked a full day, figured out some grade 5 math, hydrated and ate some homemade roasted maple almonds. Cleaned the kitchen and bathroom. On our walk around the neighbourhood, E called COVID-19 the “fucking stupid dick Coronavirus”. I wonder where she learned all those swears.

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