Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘The third narrator is practicing her lines’

By Claude SchryerElaine NussbaumKaren EliasSigne Jeremiason 

Reader-submitted stories of the COVID-19 pandemic, in no more than 100 words. Read past stories hereSubmit your own here.


I feel hollowed out. This isn’t the kind of solidarity that fills me with meaning, like feminism…. This is survival solidarity. It’s a hollowness of memories robbed from me, of health and life robbed from others. I feel lost without my community. I miss my people. I feel disconnected… isolated. I feel angry and sad when I read the news. I see the death toll and think about what those people might have meant to their loved ones. I read what the administration says and my blood boils. Our people deserve better. Our planet deserves better. Yet I am stuck.

 Signe Jeremiason (Saint Peter, Minnesota)

Feeling hollow while sitting in bed. The figure is bald because I have alopecia.

* * *


Plum blossoms fall like snow, and a Steller’s jay, with its charcoal-colored topknot and sapphire tail feathers, collects dead grass to build a nest in the alder tree, where he and his mate will squawk and squawk. I don’t know until I turn on my TV that in New York City, 1,900 people have died in the last 72 hours, doubling the number in the previous 72. Outside hospitals, bodies are loaded into refrigerated morgue trucks by gurney and forklift. The first infant has died, and one million people worldwide have contracted COVID-19, doubling the number in one week.

— Elaine Nussbaum (Scappoose, Oregon)

Plum tree.

* * *


part fear, part hope
unpassing time

connected solitudes
part heart, part mind
uncharting paths

involuntary prescience
part science, part art
unseen cultures

Unpassing time is about how being in a ‘connected solitude’ bubble is liberating, and tackling the COVID crisis is a test run for the climate crisis.
Uncharting paths refers to our need to unlearn, quickly, deeply.
Unseen cultures is about imagining a sustainable world we have not yet seen but already know.

— Claude Schryer (Ottawa, Canada)

The Rideau River near my home in Ottawa, where I went for walk while thinking about this story.

* * *


The narrator of my life insisted on saying, “And from that point on, everything went quickly down hill.”

She was replaced.

The second narrator insisted on saying, “One day and then the next, in dismal succession.”

She was replaced.

These narrators think they know everything! The third narrator is practicing her lines. She is learning to say, “We are staying at home. We are washing our hands. We are playing our part.”

— Karen Elias (Lock Haven, Pennsylvania)

(Top photo: Sheltered, unsheltered.)


This series is edited by Thomas Peterson. One of the editors of Artists & Climate Change, he is also a theatre director and researcher whose work focuses on the climate crisis.


Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

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