Essential

Reads: 231  | Likes: 2  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 2

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Non-essential.

What a strange thing to call a person. Full of so many meanings, so many emotions, I am told this very thing. Should I be happy that I can go home and be safe? Or should I wonder if what I do each day to earn a living is nothing more than just a way to make money. Should that bother me? I am left with so many questions spinning in my head as I clock out of work for the last time, indefinite uncertainty stretched out before my horizon. Soon, my coworkers will do the same. Soon, we will all be non-essential.

I don't know if I will be able to make rent this month, or even the next. Will my bills pile up, abandoned in fear that what's left in my bank account will not be enough? I collapse into my bed at home as I consider the possibility that I may lose my house if I can't work. The stores are being ransacked like a war is upon us. Will I be able to find enough food for my family to eat? The way people are acting make me nervous, my anxiety has ratcheted itself to an all time high. Will my mental health hold out, or will I break down under the stress? It's paralyzing, this fear. I want nothing more than to wrap my arms around my husband, have him tell me that everything will be just fine, let him stroke my hair as his natural calm soothes my troubles. He always has a way with words. He is my Zen.

But he can't. He isn't here with me.

Deemed an essential employee, he will have to face this...thing, head on. Each day he will have to put on a new, clean mask, freshly washed clothes, and head into work with a brave face. He will have to keep his distance as he works, avoiding contact with customers and employees alike, hoping that it will be enough. He will have to watch helplessly as people walk around him, refusing to wear a mask and endangering his life as well as their own. He will work longer hours, with no hazard pay, to keep shelves stocked and people happy. And each night he will come home exhausted, not able to kiss me as he rushes to the bathroom to shed his contaminated clothes and hop into the shower.

There is nothing I can do, aside from comfort him and try to distract him from the reality we now share. He risks his life for meager money, because I cannot. From the moment he walks out the front door, all I can do is wait for his return, hoping that he will be spared. He takes the necessary precautions, but do others? Will tomorrow be the day that he feels the symptoms, that he has to run to the nearest testing center and pray that they don't turn him away? He is my world, and I his. What happens to a world when it is ripped apart by an unseen threat?

My sweet dog looks up at me, watching me from the floor as I sob quietly into my pillow. This our life now. Trapped at home, wracked with guilt that I do not have to brave the outside while my husband does. It will be hours before he is done with his shift. He will be haggard when he comes home, but he will pretend that all is well when he sees my face. It is his gift, and his curse. How long will it take before this breaks him?

Sitting up with an epiphany, I realize that now is not the time for my tears. That I can't be the one who is broken this time. I may not be needed at work, but not to him. I will do what I can to ease his burdens, to soothe his weary thoughts. For as long as I am banished to my own home, I will be there for him and I will be strong. And I will smile, wrap my arms around him. I will stroke his hair and let him rant about his day. Be his Zen.  We can get through this, no matter how scary it gets. I will not let this break us. I will be there for him, as he has always done for me. When he returns to me.

That is what it means to be essential.


Submitted: May 30, 2020

© Copyright 2021 K. Glidden. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments

Criss Sole

I think you and your husband are very essential to each other, and i am so glad you have him and he has you. This is a very hard time for many of us. I watch the news and feel like i am watching a horror movie.
Very touching story. Please stay strong.

Tue, June 9th, 2020 3:12pm

Craig Davison

Yeah, this is a very interesting account of a very strange year. I am, however, very lucky, as I live in a very small town in the middle of nowhere, in a country that has managed to avoid escalating numbers of pandemic victims. The city of Melbourne was in lockdown for a long time but has almost recovered. All the best, Craig.

Tue, November 17th, 2020 10:57pm

Facebook Comments

More Non-Fiction Short Stories

Other Content by K. Glidden

Short Story / Fantasy

Short Story / Fantasy

Short Story / Non-Fiction