Short story about quarantine: Reaching Fever Pitch

April 27, 2020

Image by Виктория Бородинова from Pixabay

Ananya Badithe‘s tale of a student under house arrest, all consumed by health anxiety and hyper-focused on any signs of illness

Paranoia comes easily in lockdown.

Fearful delusions flooded my mind in slow motion, as my body released a succession of loud sneezes.

“I should have washed my hands, after I touched that door yesterday.” I scolded myself.

My flighty fingers anxiously grabbed for my phone. I opened the browser.

“What are the symptoms of COVID-19?” I typed.

“A fever,” it said. The words juddered on the screen.

With no further thought, hastily I checked the temperature of my brow, with the back of my hand. Hypersensitivity kicked in – my forehead was burning.

“It’s pretty warm, right? I have a fever, right? Oh my God!” I told myself, as I recited farewell speeches in my head.

My brother noticed my anxiety getting the better of me.

“Go isolate yourself, away from us. Although we will miss you,” he said teasingly with a smirk on his face.

After a good 30 seconds of build-up… I sneezed; once, twice, a third time… lucky?

I sprinted to the kitchen, boiled up some water, squeezed a lemon, and poured heaps of honey into a mug and drank it.

As the warmth of the water cascaded down my throat, I recalled every home remedy that I could try; ginger, echinacea, garlic, turmeric, peppermint oil. Anything to help protect me from this toxic virus.

A few weeks passed and all was well. I was amused by the memory of my phantom virus.

As I sat comfortably on the couch watching the TV, I thought about my silliness. I laughed thinking about it, right when my nose started to tingle. After a good 30 seconds of build-up… I sneezed; once, twice, a third time… lucky?

Paranoia comes easily in lockdown. “What were the symptoms of COVID-19 again?” I worried to myself.

I had an extra long sleep and, for several hours after awakening, I managed to convince myself that I simply was not hungry. But finally hunger got the better of me. My stomach growling, and my head aching.

I was in fact ravenous. I walked into the kitchen, opened the fridge which revealed a loaded emptiness. No trace of groceries, just a couple of half empty jars. My hunger escalated at this lonely sight.

After dodging every form of human contact and spraying every object in my way, I finally reached the shop

I had to admit it. This was that day of the week, my turn to brave it into the outside world, and the mad mayhem of supermarket shopping.

Inspirational music started to play in my head. I was gearing up; I grabbed my mask and put it on slowly and carefully. I armed myself with a glorious, shiny new bottle of hand sanitiser.

“Be careful,” my brother said mockingly. “Do you want food or not?” I said half laughing. I began my journey like a ninja.

After dodging every form of human contact and spraying every object in my way, I finally reached the shop. Navigating every isle with apprehension and precision. It took at least three times as long as normal, to gather all the necessities.

Eventually I reached the check out, a safe distance from any potential virus carrier. Not long now, I thought, and I’ll be home and dry, as my last item was scanned.

My gloved hand reached in to my bag to grab my purse from its usual compartment. I foraged around for a while. To my horror, it dawned on me that I had left my purse behind. A sweat broke on my brow.

Is this it, the Covid fever…?

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