by Elizabeth Emerald
The abstract has solidified. Cavalier What-Ifs have the thud of concrete.
This might be the last time, I’d airily announce upon commencing a visit to person or place, better make the most of it. Thus did I pay lip service to the unlikely.
No longer do my lips skip lightly over improbabilities. They speak with the dread of possibilities. This may be the last time. Substituting may for might evens the odds: if you toss a coin you may get heads.
The Corona coup ousted normalcy; the insidious menace ruthlessly rules the masked masses. The week before the world stopped, before we were in the thrall of lockdown, I indulged in many retrospective “last times.” Because the events were unremarkable at the time, they’ve—mercifully—faded in memory: less vivid, thus less painful.
I withdraw from human connection—not on account of lockdown, but because I cannot bear to consider that these connections may be severed.
I shy away from touch—not on account of Cononaphobia, but because I cannot bear to endure what may be the final touch.
I sit six feet apart from others—not on account of mandated distancing, but because I cannot bear to recall the times of side-by-side.
And I don’t want to. Last times are behind me; I wish to keep them there.