Light flooded the living room, a bright sunny day worthy of playing outside.
“Mama? Can we go outside?”
The answer was always the same. No. Not today. Not yesterday. Not the day before yesterday. Not tomorrow, though maybe in a few days.
Janice didn’t know what that meant. Days were wrapped with light mixed with dark, but she rarely saw the dark. She lived for the light. She lived to go out into the light, to feel the warmth on her skin, to breath in the leaves and trees, tilt her head in the direction of bird song and search through the branches for a glimpse of blue or red feathers.
She knew better to argue, so she turned around and looked for the cat. The cat always found the warmest spot in the 5th floor flat. If even a sliver of sun came through, the cat found it with her heat-seeking radar. Yes, there he was, a silver tabby, curled in a ball in the largest swath of sun. She laid down on the floor next to the cat, pulling him in close for a snug, then stared up into the ceiling.
Did mama ever have to spend weeks on end locked in the house waiting for illness to pass by their door? She’d asked and was told about war and hiding under desks to protect themselves from bombs falling out of the sky, but never hiding from something no one could see that was killing people.
What would she remember from this time when she was mama’s age, she wondered? What would she tell her child?
The first few days, she’d worried about invisible monsters breaking down the door and hurting the family. Now, she understood better and now worried about other things, school, friends, other family members, and her teachers. She didn’t worry much as they stayed connected all the time on the net, but she missed the hugs and arm punches, the teasing that she and her friends would do, but now they could only tease each other on the vid and not see or touch each other.
She understood. It’s just the way it was.