Today, at 3:30pm, my life was altered in a way that will take me decades to recover from. One moment I was happy, ready to tackle the world and all its problems. In the very next moment, I was forever doomed.

A stranger coughed on me in public.

For weeks I have been a hermit. Secluded in my home, the only contact I’ve had with other breathing specimens have been Hubster, Lola, and a fleeting moment with a spider that I named Susan. I did everything I could to insulate myself from this raging virus that makes the zombie apocalypse feel like a lovely walk in the park. Though, if I’m being honest, I had one critical weakness in my plan – Hubster, who continued reporting to work each day.

Despite my efforts, Hubster wouldn’t sleep in a tent in the backyard.

Unfortunately, my standard online grocery routine was no longer an option – the local stores were out of everything I needed. So, with supplies dwindling, I was forced out into the world on a mission to restock. I bravely opened the front door and ventured into public, holding my breath until I was safely in the car. At the store, I picked out a shopping cart that was positively teeming with unseen dangers ready to make a home in my body. I was immediately reassured by the disinfectant handed out at the front door. 

From there, I was a woman with a six-foot bubble all around me.

I paced myself with the other shoppers, falling back and speeding up as needed. No one could get near me, and I was prepared to use my shopping cart as a battering ram should the need arise. I was elated when I realized the meat counter was fully stocked. I nearly teared up when I rounded a corner and saw all of my favorite cheeses waiting for me. My heart pounded when I spied the grocery store equivalent of a unicorn standing before me – toilet paper. A solid wall of toilet paper as far as the eyes could see. I was so overjoyed, I didn’t notice the lurking shape advancing from behind. Closer and closer he came, but I was oblivious until the final seconds of his approach. I glanced to my left, heard the cough, and recoiled with a look of pure horror.

Strange Man coughed within arm distance of me… and did not cover his mouth.

Words failed me. For the first time in my entire life, I shut up. As I frantically searched the air for visible signs of virus flying toward me, Strange Man must have finally looked at my face. He instantly put on a burst of speed to get away from me. Hubster, unaware of what occurred, came around a corner with his coffee, his grinning face completely at odds with my own emotions. I schooled my features, congratulated Hubster on his hunting prowess, and then continued on my way. I was doomed. I knew it, Strange Man knew it, but I would be damned if Hubster would know it.

He would make me sleep in a tent in the backyard!

 

 

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