SPRING FEVER by Joe Ramsay

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Joe Ramsay

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Day 111; May 1st, 2020
They’re calling it “The Storm Of The Century,” now.
At first I didn’t take it seriously. “Tis the season,” I figured. It’s almost always rainy at this time of year, and a little seasonal illness isn’t that uncommon during Spring time. But as soon as I saw the wind and the rain tearing trees from the ground I began listening to the government-appointed health experts on the weather channel. Folks are supposed to skip town during epidemics like this, but the rain has made so many people sick that they won’t let us evacuate. Now there’s more and more cases every day, and they’ve issued a stay-in-place order to keep it from spreading. Now everyone and their grandmother is either panic-buying umbrellas and Kleenex or isolating themselves from the maelstrom. I’ve seen footage... feverous, rain-drenched civilians stealing umbrellas... getting gunned down by cops in the supermarket.
They’re calling it Spring Fever.
It started overseas -- in a place where bad weather isn’t all that unnatural -- but foreign governments were quick to sugarcoat the outcry. There were a few whistleblowers -- climate scientists mostly -- but a lot of them were thrown in jail to prevent pandemonium. In theory no government wants their citizens to worry, but by the time we realized how bad the storm would become it was far too late. Now the whole world is in a state of emergency, and all anyone can do is stare out their bedroom windows and watch raindrops bombard the Earth. Most people are panicked and overprepared, but loads of people still question whether it’s really all that big of a deal. No matter who you are, there’s no denying it: Spring Fever has swept the globe.
I write to you from my desk overlooking the rain from the safe side of the forbidden glass. It’s weird to think that people used to walk by my window. Sometimes they would have umbrellas... sometimes they would tough it out. As I people-watched I would try to guess who had the fever and who didn’t, but they say it’s pretty much impossible to tell until it’s too late. Plus I heard on the weather channel that it can piggyback on asymptomatic hosts, so it could be stewing inside dry, healthy-looking people. Now that everyone’s terrified of each other they’ve stopped going on their walks, and my window has become a shallow, empty aquarium.
Tissues and hand sanitizer have become luxuries. I can usually gauge a person’s preparedness by the presence of such items. I do get mad when I see people with umbrellas though, because those have become really rare all of a sudden. As soon as they hit the shelves they’re bought up by rich pricks and everyone who didn’t lose their jobs in the crisis. I’d kill for one of those, but I’m afraid to take on the scorn of umbrella-less people like me. Now enough folks have tried to rob grocery stores that the aisles are guarded by cops to keep thieving from getting out of control. I guess I don’t blame them. In times like this even the nicest people can flip like a switch. That’s why the people who flex their umbrellas make me stir with suspicion and envy.
I don’t think it takes a climate scientist to figure out that we’re losing our grip. Some of us were introverts before the stay-in-shelter order, so not everyone had to change their lifestyle all that much, but I can imagine it must have been hard on the extroverts of the world. I’m friends with a mix of both, but now that everyone’s forced to stay inside I’ve been fiercely lonely. I heard we’re allowed to leave if we can stay at a safe proximity to potentially infected persons, but not many people can be convinced to brave the wind and rain for anything other than the occasional grocery run. In my opinion “A little rain never hurt anyone,” but many people aren’t so sure. If you’re prepared you’re paranoid, and if you’re not then you’re suicidal.
I’m not going to lie to you, I haven’t exactly been thriving here in my isolation. I swear to God if I eat one more ramen noodle I’ll turn into one. Plus I’ve been listening to Creedence’s Have You Ever Seen The Rain so much I’ve been hearing it in my dreams. Worst of all I’ve been staring at my computer screen for so long the pattern of my document is embossed into my eyes. I’ll probably be seeing this story etched into my vision for weeks. I’d be playing video games if I had any, but now that I’m out of a job I’ve had to sell them to stay afloat. I used to play chess with my roommates, but ever since we left the window open and let the rain in we’ve been too paranoid to touch the pieces. Now we’re all hiding from one another. We only see each other by accident these days. I hate to admit it, but we’re all secretly thinking the same thing:
“One of us must have Spring Fever.”
This notion has made even my closest friends distant. I used to love being the guy who got everyone together whenever we met. I miss hanging out all the time like we used to. We used to go everywhere! The bar... the museum... the library... the arboretum... Oh my God, can you believe I used to go on dates? My life was like a short story! We were like our own little pantheon... like the cast of a show so good it could never exist, where everyone had a place at the table. We used to throw bangers so crazy we couldn’t talk about them in front of cops. There’s nothing worse than watching your inseparable circle of friends get dissolved while the rain beats on your window like a drum.
Hell, this was supposed to be Spring time! Back in the day, around this time of year the rain used to stop... The Sun used to peek through the clouds... Patches of daffodils would spring out of seemingly nowhere... And the birds would make that sound like they make on TV! I used to walk everywhere in Spring, and every once in a while I’d catch the aromas of Lilacs, or the warm scent of wood stoves using firewood left over from Winter. Even before the trees got their leaves back, the branches would look almost orange against the deep blue sky. The grass is still green like it used to be, but it feels so far away now that I only see it from this side of my window.
That’s it... I can’t take it anymore. If I have to spend one more day in this hellhole I’ll go looney. I know I’m not supposed to go out there, but it can’t be much worse than being cooped up in here, can it? A little rain never hurt no one! All I can hear is rain rain rain anyway! I can barely hear myself think in this place! Fresh air or not, at least it’s new air! So what if my friends wanna be recluses? I can be socially distant and still stretch my legs. It’s hard to imagine everyone else out there is seriously still hiding from the storm like a bunch of cowards. I can’t be the only one who’s going batty in his spare time. Maybe I’ll swing by the store and pilfer an umbrella out from under a cop’s nose. If I’m lucky I won’t wind up on the news for it.
I don’t feel good. Something’s been irking me that I don’t want to consider...
What if... all this time... I’ve been the one with Spring Fever? Is that why everyone’s been so distant? And I suppose... I suppose they think I’m gonna get them sick too! Goddamn... The nerve of these... people! With friends like these... you know what I’m saying? The frustration makes my body ache and my head hurt. No wonder everything’s going to Hell. This storm is turning hospitable folk into xenophobic hypochondriac shut-ins who are so scared of the rain that they’d prefer unearned unemployment checks to human interaction! I can’t believe I called them my friends while they treated me like a leper! Well maybe I AM a leper!
Sorry to lose my cool like this. Just thinking about it absolutely makes my blood boil, you know? God, it’s getting hot in here. I need some air. A little rain never hurt no one, right?


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