Short Story: Gone so Fast
Updated: Mar 18, 2021
Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared to no longer be a pandemic. After what seemed like a lifetime in its own right. The pandemic had taken too many lives and had condemned people to spend time held up in their homes to keep the virus from spreading as much as possible. The entire time, Andromeda endured the annoyance of her glasses fogging up whenever she went outside and had to wear her mask. She had tried ones that supposedly were supposed to prevent that. The last time she found one that promised just that, a cute paisley patterned one that seemed to be a great fit until she went out in the chilly air during late winter.
Every day of the pandemic seemed to be the same to some extent. It started with huge surges of cases and then the death toll started to rise. Andromeda and her family had taken all the precautions necessary or so they thought. When they were told to remain indoors and quarantined, they listened and adhered to this order. While others broke the rules, they didn’t. When others traveled, they postponed their trip to Thailand instead. They never left home without a mask and followed the guidelines that were posted at the entrance of the grocery store. Andromeda also had hand sanitizer on her at all times. That is why what happened to her family was so unexpected.
About three months in, her brother who lived on the other side of the city came down with the disease. The only places he had been to were the grocery store and his in-person job at a car dealership. Not knowing where he caught the virus, he informed his manager at the dealership and stayed home. He thought that his symptoms would go away and that he could return to work soon. Since that is what others had been doing, he had heard about those who just had it for a short period of time and went back to their normal day-to-day life.
It was on July 25th that he had to go to the ER for his symptoms. His symptoms when they first appeared seemed mild. A low-grade fever, a cough, and loss of smell. By the time he had made it to the ER, his fever had spiked, his cough had become violent and his body aches were growing more painful. It was his fiancee who had brought him to the hospital but she couldn’t be in the room with him while he received care. So, she called his family and informed them of the fact that Rickie had been hospitalized and that she was waiting to hear about his condition.
This news alarmed Andromeda and her family members. So, they took further precautions and anxiously waited for an update about Rickie’s health. Days went by as Rickie was receiving care. Then after about a week since the day of his admittance, his fiancee Ren got the call saying that he had to be put on a respirator. That his condition had quickly deteriorated the day prior. Once again Ren informed Andromeda and her family about what was going on. Their concern for him grew and grew until one day they were informed that he had been taken off the respirator and had unfortunately passed after that.
Andromeda, who was still living with her parents during her last year of high school. Tried to console her parents as they grieved deeply for their lost son. She made a vow from there on out that she would do whatever she could to prevent her family from getting the virus. They spent more time in quarantine, luckily her parents were able to work from home. Instead of going to the grocery store, they had food delivered to their house. They were getting stir crazy however and at times her parents fought, leaving her annoyed and isolated. Her only real contact with the outside world was over text messages or different internet chat forums. Without the ability to go to school to see her friends, her loneliness grew and she missed speaking to her brother every day.
The numbers were not decreasing over the next few months and the sadness surrounding both the death rate and the loss of Rickie was getting heavier. Feeling that their quarantining was thorough enough and that people were being allowed out to outdoor dining and other activities. Andromeda’s mother went over to see their neighbor one day to drop off a homemade blueberry pie. She didn’t go in but the neighbor unknowingly was an asymptomatic carrier and had picked up the virus at a gas station nearby.
So, Callista unsuspecting brought that fatal virus back into her home. Surprisingly she was not the first of the small family to get sick. It was her husband Jason instead who manifested the symptoms initially. His symptoms were very much like Rickie’s had been but with another symptom that Rickie had not reported which was vomiting. He couldn’t keep any of the food that he could barely taste due to his loss of smell. He tried to self-isolate in his bedroom while Andromeda and Callista stayed out as much as possible. It wasn’t too long after this started that Callista also came down with the same symptoms. Prompting Andromeda to be the one to watch out for them.
She took care of her parents for as long as she could until their symptoms had become too severe and they too needed hospitalization. Both of them were resistant but they went at the insistence of their daughter. She waited and waited to see if they would get better, all the while keeping an eye on her own health. Which for some reason never became compromised. On December 20th, during the holiday season, Andromeda got the news that her mother had died and then her father died as well just two short days later. Leaving her alone without her parents or her brother.
After their untimely death, she had to go and live with her aunt after making sure they were both quarantined. Aunt Lavender was her only living relative at that point. Andromeda was not happy that she had to leave her hometown to join her aunt but they were both able to comfort one another over the death of their family members.
Neither of them ever got the virus and as the mass distribution of vaccines took place, the pandemic started to dissipate. While the pandemic was waning, Andromeda’s grief was not. She had started seeing a counselor about her pain surrounding the death of her parents and brother. It was a helpful distraction but her despair around those events did not go away. Now that she was done with high school, she went to college and tried her best to move on. Plagued by her depression though she ended up dropping out, she couldn’t handle the stress, her parents had always been her biggest supporters. She felt as though she had disappointed them in some way but she set out to follow her own dream.