Falling into the Disease’s Arms
By Olesya Shanabrook
This piece is about a fictional outbreak in 2005 without the usage of smartphones and social media, and speaks about how diseases separate families. I was inspired by the coronavirus outbreak happening now in 2020.
Wang Li 2005 – 13 – 8
Falling into the Disease’s Arms
Yesterday, I held my grandma’s hand as if I was the last source of her life energy left. I held her hand as tenderly as the first moment she held me in her arms. I remember opening the door and seeing her laying down on her bed next to a small chair that my dad would use when he plays dominos with his friends. As I walked closer to her bed, she slowly turned her head towards me. I saw the disease sneaking to her face, her throat covered with infected spots and rashes slowly crawling to her jawline. I was already wearing a pair of gloves and a white face mask. I was sitting there as the sun poured over my face like a glass of water. I felt her hand and gently turned it over, only to see the disease had already invaded her hand. I wished everything could go back to the way it was before, but now all the schools, grocery shops, and banks are closed. Really anything you can think of—all of it shut down. She turned her head towards me and said, ”與其詛咒黑暗，不如燃起蠟燭. (Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.)” Then all of a sudden, I let all of my emotions out. Tears were falling like the drops from our weeping willow’s branches that Grandma used to shake onto me after a rainy day. How could I let this happen? What have I done to deserve this? I felt like my world was falling apart. I remember all the laughs I had with her, the times I cried in her arms, the times she cooked for me, dressed me up for school, times I ranted to her because I felt angry. She was there for me in the times I needed her. She was like my second mother. You see, I didn’t remember anything from my mother’s funeral when I was a baby, but my grandma told me I held her hand the entire time. So this time I held her hand, wishing she could absorb my strength and wake up the next morning. She turned her head as I saw the life drain out of her body. She gradually closed her eyes. I placed her hand at her side and got up. I felt the chilly breeze coming in as I walked out of that room. I walked to my room and started to pack. Father wanted the siblings and me to stay with his sister out in the countryside as the disease spreads. He didn’t say how long or when he would come back to see us. The government forced Father to stay in the city because he’s a doctor. So Father is staying back so he can help others.
Now I am in a train car with my siblings, watching Father through the window. I think Father noticed me looking at him with such sorrow, so he tried to make a funny face to cheer me up. I slightly chuckled to make him feel like he is doing the best he can. My young siblings are looking up to me with hope and grief. I didn’t know what to do and stared at them for a split second, then looked back at my father. The train conductor yelled, “All aboard.” Quickly the train started to pick up the pace. My siblings and I waved to our father as the train started to move faster. Soon, I noticed Father in the distance and saw him leave. I stared back at my reflection in the window until we got out of the tunnel and saw the most beautiful sun.
Olesya Shanabrook is a class of 2020 Girls Write Now mentee based in New York, NY.