The paedetrician`s assistant had been first to see the stripe.
Our poor little chicken: snot-encrusted, phlegm-filled, glassy-eyed.
Her red-hot forehead buried in my chest.
We had all thought it was something else.
I texted LSH. We had to isolate.
I was already shivery and a day later, the second stripe showed up for me too.
LSH left food at the door. Ratatouille and polenta. We video called, like it was 2012 and he was in Edinburgh and I in Berlin.
The chicken`s temperature went down.
LSH started coughing, and we were reunited.
Three out of 3.8 billion people to have been struck by this plague.
Inordinately lucky to have a comfortable apartment to isolate in. Neighbors who offered to shop for us. Technology to entertain us. The freedom to close our eyes and bathe in the early autumn sunlight streaming in the window.
We got off easy. A headache. A persistent cough. A sore throat. And much fatigue.
As the days went by, brightness returned to the chicken`s eyes. She drank gallons and gallons of milk, some in her sleep, some while LSH and I binge-watched Succession.
Over the summer, I photographed a swine lying on her side in the forest, feeding her six piglets. How did she do it, I wondered. All that relentless tugging. The mother-body is a marvel.
Twice I dreamt of Logan Roy. He and his children were an enduring part of our isolation. “Which of them is the worst?” LSH asked each other over dinner. “They´re all so awful. And so real.“
Maybe it was because we weren`t taking the bins out, but the apartment filled with flies. I saw a pair of them copulating on my laptop keyboard. At night, we were maddened by their buzzing.
In the outside world, lots happened. Over dinner one night our phones buzzed, telling us The Queen had died.
Atrocities continued to be uncovered in Ukraine. A colleague is there, documenting it all.
Her courage is extraordinary. Like that of many others on the frontlines of this unspeakably awful war.
Insulated from it all, I finally finished Young Mungo. Briliant and bleak and the opposite of life-affirming. Afterwards, I needed an escape and found it in an odd Japanese novel, There´s no such thing as an easy job, about a woman`s mundane yet profound observations as she takes on a series of strange and boring jobs.
The chicken became more vocal every day. HE DE. THE KE. AYDA, she would exclaim each morning, yawning afterwards to reveal her five and a half teeth.
She discovered a new hobby: tearing toilet paper. LSH and I would sacrifice a roll now and then. She was so happy, sitting there, ripping off the sheets one by one. When she was done, she would crawl to us, and present them as an offering.
LSH and I were well enough to embark on a seven-day YouTube quarantine yoga challenge with Tim Senesi. After months of working with Adriene and her German equivalent Madi, he provided some much-needed novelty to our days. On one occasion, his perpetually sleeping dog awoke suddenly and barked, causing me to tumble out of my triangle pose in fright.
In the evenings, we made lists for the next day. Yoga with Tim. Showers. Coffee. Clean out kitchen cupboard. Make humous. Clear out sideboard. Read. Watch Succession. Hoover. Mop. Sleep. Write to friends. Do taxes.
On the eleventh day, the chicken and I tested negative. To celebrate, we ventured to the doctor to pick up a sick note.
The seasons had changed while we were in isolation. It was cold now. Brown and orange leaves swirled beautifully in the wind.
On the way home, we passed an old man on a bicycle.
He looked just like Logan Roy.