To all the people that died during this time of pandemic
The kettle was boiling in the kitchen, and Simon poured himself a cup of tea. Every morning, he drank from the same cup given by his sister, who had passed away. She was a wonderful girl; she always supported her younger brother in all his endeavors, often called, and worried about him. Unfortunately, she never had a family: she was a lawyer, loved her career, devoted all her time to work, and thought that everything was still ahead of her.
Six months ago, she was hurrying to work because she had overslept. The day before she had spent the evening in the company of a nice young man. Being in a state of euphoria, she did not notice that they stayed up late at night. And, in the morning, she ran out into the street, throwing on a burgundy raincoat that she had bought on a business trip. Sleepy-eyed, she looked up at the gray sky, the rain was drizzling outside, and she wished she hadn’t put on such a light raincoat. A thick fog hung over the city, making it difficult to see passers-by. She decided to run across the road at the red light, thinking, once again, that she would be lucky. But, that day, everything was different: a speeding car hit the girl, who seemed to have tasted the joy of life and the company of the evening guest only yesterday.
Simon blew on his tea and cast a blank look at the street. Oddly enough, it was also raining that day. It was March, the most unpleasant month in Canada, when there are no leaves on the trees, snow still on the roofs, and slush on the sidewalks. The snow is dirty, and the weather changes dramatically every day from warm to freezing. The young man looked at the pile of dishes, then at the pages of his unfinished manuscript scattered around the apartment, then back at the pile of dishes. He was desperate. It was the end of the month and he promised to hand over the manuscript to the editor today. There it was, lying on the floor. “How will I justify myself,” he thought to himself. He automatically picked up the phone to call his sister, but when he came to his senses, he abruptly threw it onto the sofa. He went to his wardrobe. There were t-shirts of the same color and three plaid shirts; he gave the other three to a neighbor to wash.
His neighbor was an amazing woman. She was about seventy years old, but she deftly entered into a political debate with Simon about local government, peppering her young friend with all sorts of arguments. She had met Simon as soon as he moved into the apartment. She had been receiving guests that day, and, when she saw a plain, modestly dressed young man, she decided to invite him for a cup of coffee right away. So, their friendship began.
Simon didn’t have many friends, and it wasn’t because he was angry or unfriendly- not at all! It’s just that he didn’t find common topics of conversation with his peers, who, in their free time, preferred to go to a restaurant or drink beer while watching TV. He also loved watching hockey on TV, and once went to the Bell center with his nephew. He never refused a steak and had often gone to “Les 3 Brasseurs,” indulging in a luxurious dinner. He was such a frequent guest there that the waiters remembered him, knowing what kind of meat he preferred and how he liked it overdone. However, his main interests were different, from other people. He followed politics, and also read a book about the climate and how it has changed over the past centuries. In his entire life, he did not get very close to anyone; it was difficult for him to find like-minded people, and he was not very sociable.
On the landing, another neighbor’s dog ran up to him from the apartment to his left. He had long been attracted to this neighbor, and she had shown an interest in him. The dog always knew that Simon had a sausage in his right pocket, which he brought especially for him. The dog named Robert wagged his tail, looking with his wonderful eyes into those of a kindred spirit. Simon took out the sausage and handed it to a four-legged friend. The neighbor only blushed, waving her hands as she said that it was not worth it. Simon stood and smiled, and he liked the way she blushed; he also liked the feeling of having done well today. Even if it was small, it was still a kind gesture that is sometimes so lacking in our world.
At work, his boss called him about the dismissal of a young writer, who was already late with a manuscript for the third time. For the first time in three months, he went to the editorial office that had been closed for quarantine because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Everyone worked from home, coming to work only when necessary.
Simon was silent, knowing that he was going to have an unpleasant conversation. The boss was sorry to fire the writer because he knew that Simon had potential. He also said that the editorial budget decreased because of the crisis.
The writer had no choice but to return to the bus stop. There, he met a man who worked at McDonald’s across the street from the newsroom. This man had come from Bangladesh twenty years ago, lived with his family in Saskatchewan, then divorced and moved to Montreal. He was also recently fired from his job due to the pandemic and has been working at the fast food restaurant for a month now.
“What happened? What is it?” he asked.
“Fired,” said Simon
“Don’t worry, I’ll help you with your work, I have contacts,” the man gave him his number and left.
In the evening, Simon became ill; his temperature rose, and he felt dizzy. He couldn’t even get out of bed. At this moment, he felt lonely, sad and melancholic, as he had no one to look after him.
The next morning, he couldn’t smell or taste anything. He turned on the TV to distract himself. The news announced that the number of cases was only increasing. Simon sighed, turned away, and fell asleep.
A week later, Simon’s soul was far away. People gathered in front of his house, hoping that he was happy up there and that he had met his sister. The March wind blew fiercely in their faces, and people shivered, not from the cold, but from their own thoughts.
The elderly neighbor left three washed shirts in memory of Simon. The dog was whining, and the young girl was crying. She alone felt that she had lost some precious. The man at the bus stop was silent, his throat dry. The waiter was standing without a jacket; he abruptly broke and ran from the restaurant. The boss of the publishing company looked up at the sky, tears streaming down his petrified face. People from all over the area slowly gathered at the entrance. It turned out that many people knew him, even they previously pretended not to notice him.
People felt the raindrops turn into snowflakes as the March weather took its toll.
By Nataliya Nazarova