Coronavirus Anniversary

“Let it go, Dani!” I said. “Make sure we’ve got the gas masks and the hand sanitizer.”

“So, we’re going to pretend you didn’t just smash Jackie’s head open and—”

“There you go bringing up old stuff.”

“Yesterday is old now? How could you? She was my friend.”

“She had signs of the coronavirus,” I said.

“Jackie had signs her abusive ex-husband punched her face, nothing more.”

I crinkled my eyes. “You callin’ me a lair?”

Dani pointed. “Look,” she said, pointing towards the stadium of the people donning gas masks. “It must have gotten here before we did!”

“What?”

“A new strain of the coronavirus. One far deadlier than before.” I tossed her a mask. “Put it on. We can’t chance it. The coronavirus is getting here faster than we can fight it.”

“I ain’t wearin’ no—”

“I’m not asking!” First scientists to say the masks don’t work then they find us if we’re absent one. “The doctors say they work now, and I’m not having you dying on me.” I slid my hand down the small of my back, pulling out a pistol.

Dani’s eyes stretched their sockets. “You ain’t gonna use it, are you?”

“Just in case, ” I said. “This new strain could turn people into zombies for all we know.”

“They’re comin’!” Dani said as she put her body behind Jason, peeking her neck over his shoulder.

“Stop!” Jason said, pointing the gun at the crowd. “Don’t come any closer!”

Debbie, Dani’s friend, pulled her mask off and doubled over; her face contorted.

“What’s so funny?” Ben asked as he returned the gun to its holster.

“The festival.”

“I don’t follow?”

“We played a joke on you, dude,” Debbie said.

“It’s the winter festival,” Dani said, shrugging her shoulders. “The costume festival. The place we met two years ago today?”

“Right, I knew that.” Jason blew out his lips. “So, no one has the coronavirus?”

Debbie shook her head. “Nota, one of us.”

“You mean, I smashed that woman’s…”

Dani placed her palm over his mouth. “I’d kinda not mention that.”

“What’d you get me for our anniversary?” Dani asked.

“Um…” Jason’s jaw fell open, not closing.

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