Once upon a time, six days ago, a millenial lived in the Epicenter of the Big Pandemic, in a little house made of porous surfaces.
The great, dark stay-home order of the Pandemic stood all around the house, and beyond it was shelter in place and beyond that was martial law. As far as a millenial could go on her ebike, there was nothing but a pandemic. There were no schools. There were no brunches. There were no non-essential jobs. There were no friends or family. There was only the pandemic and the Internet.
So far as the Millenial, whose name was Laura, was concerned, there was only the one little house where she lived her husband and her children, her daughter, Avery, and her son, Atticus. A sidewalk ran before the house, and throughout the day Laura’s neighbor’s walked by quietly, leaving six feet between them, without saying hello.
At night, when Laura lay awake on her caspar mattress, she refreshed her feeds and could not see anything she hadn’t already read, nothing but the various charts and graphs depicting vectors and growth metrics. Sometimes, several scrolls deep, a new study on transmission rates would be referenced. Then it would be shared, and shared again.
It was a scary study. Laura knew that the Pandemic could kill her parents, or even her. But she was safe inside the solid walls, as long as her toilet paper stock pile lasted and they didn’t need to leave for any reason. Her husband had stocked up on Soylent, just in case. Good old Jack, the rescue pitbull, lay on guard before it. Her husband would say, “Put your fucking phone away, Laura, the kids are going to be up at the ass-crack of dawn.” So Laura snuggled under the Parachute linen sheets, close beside her husband and lay there trying to decide if her runny nose was an early symptom or just a cold.
One day Amazon announced that some warehouse employees had tested positive for the virus. There were two boxes sitting on her front stoop, waiting for their no-contact pick-up. They looked like normal cardboard boxes from Amazon. Their cardboard turned soggy and dark brown, and curled at the edges before Laura would bring them inside.
The house was a comfortable house. Upstairs there were the bedrooms, one for Atticus, one for Avery, and one for Laura and her husband. Downstairs was the great room with kitchen, dining, and play room. The bedroom had a walk-in closet that was being converted into a workspace for taking Zoom meetings. The great room had a bookshelf full of books and a toy cabinet full of toys.
All around the house was a wooden fence, to keep the neighbors away.
In the yard in front of the house was a garage that housed their Subaru. Every morning as soon as she was awake Laura ran to look out of the window, and one morning she saw the car was pulling back in.
Her husband had gone to grocery early to avoid the crowds. Laura had been asleep when he left and now helped him unload the bags from the car.
That day Laura and her children washed their hands several times and had fresh vegetables for dinner. It was so good that Laura wished they could eat it all. But most of the vegetables were frozen and canned and packed away in the pantry to be eaten over the course of the next week.
For coronavirus was coming. The news updated the data daily, and the case numbers crawled up the charts each night. Soon the peak would come. Then the local hospitals would almost be buried in severe cases, and the respirators and PPEs would run out. In the bitter surge of fear Laura could not be sure of finding any toilet paper at the grocery store.
Her husband might go to three different grocery stores, in the Epicenter of the Pandemic, and come home at night with nothing for Laura and Atticus and Avery to wipe with.
So as much toilet paper and canned goods as possible must be stored away in the little house before coronavirus came.