Pandemic Pause

Tamara Takes Care Of Herself

She was like that for for two days while the city spun around her. Glanced at by the occasional passerby, but no more. She appeared clean but there was a pandemic going on and people just weren’t going to touch or pick up things they normally might. If she’d stayed there another day the sanitation trucks would have come by and her mangled body would be on its way to some landfill.
But that was not to be—because for Phila this story has a happy ending.

Tamara named her Phila. She’d heard a word on the radio at the soup kitchen — filibuster — and she had no idea what it meant, but she liked the sound and kept repeating it to herself like some kind of mantra.
She didn’t even remember where she found her — probably some kid had gotten a replacement for Christmas—but that word was on auto-repeat when it came time to name her. It was back in January or February.

A few neighbors regularly brought some food or warm coffee to where she lived under the scaffolding — with her shopping cart, her life raft full of essentials. She didn’t talk much. Thank yous mostly.

A few of the neighbors did get to know her name — as well as her playful version of why she was named Tamara.
She claimed no recollection of who her parents were, or even what year or where it happened, but she was clear about being born exactly at midnight. Probably a Wednesday, she adds. And then the midwife asked her parents if they preferred the birthdate to be listed as yesterday or tomorrow. They picked the latter.
Her smile is missing many teeth.

Tamara was picked up a week ago. Someone spotted her from across the street, laying on the ground, coughing violently. When the medics arrived she was desperately gasping for breath. The ambulance took her to Mount Sinai hospital.
Tamara was on an ventilator for two days. Her consciousness wavered and she had moments of panic about her belongings—her dear blankets and Phila—but she didn’t have the energy or breath to talk at all. On the third day Tamara had no more breaths at all.

Her body was taken to one of the refrigerated trucks that had been converted into morgues. There was noone on the forms to notify.

In the following week Tamara’s cart was disassembled, most of the contents thrown into a construction dumpster nearby, and Phila left sitting on the corner trash can. Waiting.

Phila was picked up by Evan, a nurse who had been passing her for days, noticing that she remained untouched. Disinfected and quarantined he passed Phila on to his sister, whose two year old instantly loved her. Her new name is Elenor and her future is set for a while.

© AleXander Hirka 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Read RemingtonWrite’s version here:

In August 2020, I set myself the challenge of creating a daily digital collage based on an image and a concept. The image was that of the antique Omega watch that belonged to my Mom and the concept was Time.
In September 2020, the
Anomalous Duo is challenging themselves to write a short piece of fiction for each collage — the Our Hours project.

Writer, visual artist, philosopher, autodidact, curmudgeon. More than half of what i do is make believe. https://alexanderhirka.nyc

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