Pindi sat on a leaf and wrapped her arms around her knees. She rested her chin on top of her knees and pouted. Zoom flew by and said, “Hey Pindi, let’s go for a ride. Hop on.”
“I can’t,” Pindi grumbled. “My mother won’t let me leave the tree. She’s afraid of the human virus.”
“Pindi!” called her twin sister Mindi, “Mother wants to know if you have your mask. You’re not supposed to go outside without it.”
“Its not fair!” Pindi yelled. “We don’t even know if fairies can be infected by this virus, but we’re not allowed to go anywhere or do anything!” She got up and stomped into the grand hall.
“Pindi,” her mother, Queen Caelia said softly, “you know we have to be careful until we know if the human virus can infect us.” Pindi crossed her arms and glared at her mother. She refused to be soothed, even though Queen Caelia stroked her shiny hair while she talked. “You father is in in counsel with the fairy kings from other trees. Some of them are reporting virus infections among their fairies, mostly those who live near big human cities. And we’ve heard stories of animals being infected. We don’t know how this will impact us, so we need to be careful until we have more information.”
“I hate being stuck at home,” Pindi complained.
“You’re not stuck,” Queen Caelia replied, “you’re safe.”
After a moment, Queen Caelia sighed and said, “You can go out with Zoom. Wear your mask and wash your hands when you get home.”
“YAY” Pindi ran out of the grand hall pumping her arms in the air. “Come on Mindi, let’s go. Will you grab my mask?”
Pindi stood on a branch and called Zoom. “We can go! We can fly with you!”
Zoom flew to the branch and waited for the fairy sisters to jump on the hummingbird’s back and flew off. Pindi tied on her mask while they were flying and then shouted “Weeeeeee” as they careened around the garden.
“Let’s go see Intrepid, Dasher, Ka-a, Ribbit, and Xylem. Even Blade,” Pindi said. “I miss everyone.”
“You know we can’t visit,” Mindi warned. “We have to stay far enough away from each other that the virus can’t spread. We’d have to shout at each other.”
“I don’t care,” Pindi replied. “I just want to see my friends, even if all I can do is wave hello.”
“Intrepid is still in Santa Rosa,” Zoom told the fairies. “He likes it up there with his buddies from the bird rescue center. He will be sad to miss seeing you, though.”
“Look, there’s Ka-a! Hi Ka-a, “Pindi shouted, waving wildly. “How are you doing?”
“I can’t chat right now. I’m on sentry duty, “Ka-a said as he cawed out an alert about a person walking a dog along the sidewalk.
“Look, there’s Xylem riding on Dasher,” Mindi said. “Hi Xylem. Hi Dasher.”
Xylem turned and waved; her short dark pixie cut hair framing her cute face. “Hi you two. I miss you.”
“We miss you, too,” the fairy sisters said in unison.
“Let’s start planning our mid-summer celebration. Surely, we’ll be able to gather again by then,” Xylem said.
“Yes!” Pindi yelled. “We can send each other ideas by butterfly. It’ll be fun, and we’ll have something to look forward to. Great idea!”
“We have to go now,” Dasher said. He turned and his long red abdomen gleamed in the sun. “Bye Pindi, Bye, Mindi,” he called as he and Xylem flew off.
“Let’s go look for Ribbit!” Pindi said as Zoom turned towards the gutter.
“Ribbit,” called Pindi. “Ribbit, will you come say hi to us?”
“Ribbit may be hiding in the cool dark drains,” Mindi said. “He doesn’t like warm, sunny days. We may not get to see him.”
“We need to get back soon,” said Zoom. “I am getting hungry from all this flying. You two may be small, but you are heavy on my back.”
“Ok,” said Pindi. “But let’s swing by the pond and see if we can find Blade on our way home.”
Zoom circled the Red Japanese Maple Tree above the pond and found Blade lounging on a leaf. He waved a lazy hand at his cousins. “Hi little fairy cousins,” he called.
Pindi grimaced. She hated to be called a little fairy cousin. “We’re 13 now! We’re not little any longer,” she yelled.
“You’ll always be my little fairy cousins,” said Blade. “I love you guys, even if you are pests.”
“Boy fairies! Pindi scowled. “They think they’re so cool. Humph. Let’s go home, Zoom.”
Back at the Green Japanese Maple Tree, the fairies climbed down from Zoom’s back. “Thank you Zoom!” they called as Zoom left to find his lunch. “We had a great time.”
Mindi turned to her sister. “Let’s start planning our mid-summer celebration.”
“Ok,” said Pindi and they walked into the Grand Hall arm in arm.
The cat is trying to decide whether to take a nap on top of the filing cabinet. The sun is shining through the window, pooling light in the perfect spot for a nap.
He’s distracted by a leaf moving in the breeze just outside the window. The dance of light and shadow is too enticing to ignore. Tail twitching, ears straining forward, whiskers quivering, he stares.
A woman walks her dog on the sidewalk. A neighborhood crow sentry calls out his warning. The next sentry in line takes up the cry. Caws echo down the street, marking the dog’s progress.
The cat watches.
The most aggressive of the backyard hens starts her morning performance. What she lacks in vocal finesse, she makes up in volume. I cringe, hoping her song isn’t disturbing the neighbors.
The cat looks at me as if asking me to make the hen stop squawking. I wish I had that power.
I want to take a nap, channeling my inner cat, letting the sun’s soporific warmth lull me to sleep. There’s not enough room on the filing cabinet for the cat and me. And, I have too much caffeine in my system to allow for sleep. But I can wish. I wish I could sleep until the virus has run its course. Until we’re allowed to socialize and shop again. Until this nightmare is over.
The cat has decided to move to the bed. There’s no pool of sunlight on the bed, but it is comfier than the filing cabinet. And there’s room for me. He begs me to join him. “I can’t,” I tell him. “I have to write.”
He winds around my legs and head slams my calf. Finally, he gives up and stalks off to the bedroom with his tail in the air and his heat held high. “Humph” he meows. He hates to wait.
I went to work early today. The sun was barely peeking over the mountains.
All the men were called to meet with the foreman first thing.
“No more work,” he said. “There’s no demand for corn. Collect your pay and go home.”
We stood in a line, staring. He wouldn’t meet our eyes.
I jammed my shovel into the ground and walked away. Opened the creaking door of my pickup and drove, gravel dust flying from my wheels.
How do I tell me wife? We have two kids to feed.
An acre of ground, a cow, some chickens. A garden.
We’ll eat. My wife will see to that.
I am a man.
I provide. Protect. Defend.
I came through a war. I survived, although damaged.
The acrid smell of nitrate lives in my brain with the deafening sounds of explosions.
The tang of blood and screams of my brothers in arms dying. A field of battle. Destruction.
I’m not what I was.
But I can repair the fence.
Patch the roof.
Clean the barn.
Paint the house. Can’t, we have no paint.
Milk the cow.
Plow the field.
Plant the seeds.
I’m not what I was.
But I can do what I can.
I am a man.
I will survive.