A rainy day while the sun is out is a bad omen. But every day seems like a bad omen now. I stand by the window at times watching the strange weather passing through. If you look at the right moment, you will see me there with a face that mirrors the solemness of what I look at. The window glows with the lamp I have on, allowing its incandescent light to stretch along the walls. The hallway remains dark and silent. The barren solitude seems to have seeped in through the window.
Ambulances rush by my apartment in a periodic rhythm. It may sound bleak, but I often wonder who is in it and why. The sunsets have become more grey than usual despite the forecast calling for good weather. The rain taps its beat on the pavement below. I hear nothing else except a car passing by every now and again. Sometimes a bird sings out. Even that seems like a song of defiance during these times. We are not completely paused in this stillness but only moving at half speed.
I read stories of the breathless pandemic, but I see nothing with my own eyes. I am told it is everywhere, yet it hides every time I look. Our society has become scarce and returned only to our essentials, though I am still unsure of what those are. I thought that in serious times of urgency, a crisis would be immediate and evident. Yet after months of maybes and ifs, our speculations became reality despite no invitations of readiness.
Now the wind blows in through the window. Perhaps with it rides the rumors of terrible death and breathless fighting. But the streets outside remain quiet and the raindrops continue to fall. What am I supposed to think while hearing horrible stories yet seeing nothing at all?
The night time is the worst. Green lights from nearby houses shine along the roads wet from the rain. The traffic lights perform their show only for me now that the cars have nearly vanished. As if it were not possible, it is even quieter, the hallway even darker. Finally, the cry of the distant train breaks through the palpable immobility of the outside world. As quickly as it came, it retreats away.
I wonder what the neighbors across the street must be doing. Are they also watching from their windows? Looking for a sign or trying to regain their sense of normalcy? Will they look into my dimly lit window and wonder what I must be thinking?
These are times of wonder — not of magnificent landscapes or beautiful paintings, but of tragedy hiding itself from so many of us. We attempted to set a timer, an end date that keeps extending forward as if running away from our useless grasps. No one speaks with surety anymore. Two weeks became a month, then two months, now possibly a year. Our crutches of time and agendas have eluded us, so we wait in its absence.
Plans have become broken sticks building only feeble structures. I try to disregard the situation that created the silence outside my window. However, each plan has been plucked away. Days trudge on, highlighting what I had planned on them. I planned a flight — canceled. I was set to take a career-defining exam — canceled. Canceled has become the word that gets my heart racing. I am completely powerless against its force as it traps me inside my apartment.
I have joined the latest trend — masks for the nose and mouth paired with concerned, distrusting eyes. I chose a simple, minimalistic black mask, but various colors and patterns are available to match individual preference. If you are lucky enough to get a hold of them, disposable gloves are the perfect accessory. These apocalyptic looks have become so normalized that it feels completely wrong to leave the house without them.
During my weekly grocery shopping, I measure with my eyes the length of six feet. The distances we keep from each other only intensifies the vacancy that roams our streets. A simple gesture of a smile has become elusive. The interactions that came so naturally before have been postponed. The solitude that has unleashed itself onto our streets now defines every aspect of our lives. The distances between us have swelled into expanses.
As I write into the night, the darkness continues to stare in through the window. We face each other as if in some twisted standoff, watching what the other might do. The rain has finally stopped, only accenting how quiet it is. The sirens of the ambulances still periodically rush by only followed by silence returning. These moments string along holding hands, one following another, stretching out time. I watch them slink by, one by one, expecting a final ending. My apartment has now become full of the eery solitude that squeezed inside between the cracks. I resign to wait in its mystery, half-expecting a sign from the window.