Excerpts From 10 Pandemic Novels, Imagined

A troll of absolutely no one, except possibly myself

  1. “What?” Alex typed. She couldn’t tell if she felt like her head was stuffed with gauze or that was just “the narrative” these days. “Sorry I feel like my head is stuffed with gauze, lol,” she typed, adding the lol, making sure no one would think that she was one of those people who actually thought her head was stuffed with gauze, wanting to plausibly be instead one of those people who knew people said that all the time and also thought that it was sort of a joke, because she didn’t know if the person she was writing, even though it was her close friend, Kira, believed in pandemic brain or not.
  2. It was a beautiful day in early March 2020 and Michelle realized for the first time since giving birth that she was actually really excited about being a mom.
  3. Marina had told Lila that Bettina and Tom had left New York on March 9th, easing out in the dead of night in their Subaru, taking the BQE until it merged into the Grand Central Parkway, then using the right two lanes to take exit 9E for Whitestone Expwy/NY-25A E/Northern Blvd toward I-678/Airport LGA, then using the left lane to follow signs for I-678/Van Wyck Expy/Whitestone Bridge/Kennedy Airport, then merging onto I-678 N/Whitestone Expy, and so on, until, eventually, they were swept into the cool green bosom of Vermont. Marina thought she’d made it abundantly clear that Bettina and Tom were not people to be trusted, not real New Yorkers. But there Lila was, ready to go to Easter Brunch at their house. Inside.
  4. Rebecca eased her leased cream-colored Mini into the twelve thousand acre parking lot recently built by her town for the drug addict meetings.
  5. Her parents definitely sucked. Her stepdad, on the other hand. Wasn’t he — maybe — sexy?
  6. Julia bit the inside of her lip until she tasted blood. Covid. She wrote it on the floor with blood that came from the biting the lip thing, next to the brand-new dog dish. Tk tk etc (buys kennel tk tk)
  7. Lila laughed and took another bite of frittata, and a sip of Prosecco. It was nice to be inside a dining room, laughing with friends about the hell of the last year. She mentioned that her head felt cloudy. “Oh, I just call that ‘pandemic brain,’” Bettina said. “Pandemic brain,” Lila repeated. “That’s such a great way to describe it!” Maybe Bettina wasn’t so bad.
  8. Rebecca had been going to the free drug addict meetings for two months when she realized something terrible. She was addicted to drugs because it felt better to be on them than to be off them. Also, it was so easy to get drugs now. It was almost — did the government just want people to be wasted? She thought about this as she applied lip gloss in the Mini’s lighted mirror that she was her favorite feature of many on her car.
  9. Jennifer sighed. Her agent was being impossible. “I mean you just want me to write some — novel about growing up? Like, ‘Nina sighed and sank into the seat of her mothers’s Ford Pinto.’ You actually want me to write that?” “Yes,” her agent said. “Exactly.” “No,” she said. “I can’t write that book. It’s too stupid.” “Of course it’s stupid,” her agent screamed. “It’s a fucking novel.”

Sarah Miller is a writer living in Northern California.

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