We Are Here
– Nonfiction by Hannah Opp –
Honorable Mention in the 2023 Dreamers Micro Nonfiction Contest!
Teach me something, my best friend texts.
We work at a senior living community. He’s the nurse; I’m the receptionist. Our residents are our found family, and they are dying. Three more test positive as Covid greedily spreads throughout the building. Death stealing weak breaths from scarred lungs.
We cope however we can, only letting our faces fall when no one is looking.
Our texts are tired smiles. Desperate hope. A moment of stolen respite within each vibrated notification. He teaches me about the prefrontal cortex. I share stories about art.
I send him a picture of a portrait from our local museum. A beautiful, hauntingly pale woman surrounded by eerie blue tones wears a crimson necklace. I tell him about the effects of the varnish, how it broke down the paint. She was not meant to be a ghost.
I ask him how the woman feels. Tired, sad, scared. I tell him art is magic; it can change with our perspective. Now is not forever, I write, earnestly hoping it is true.
We make it through the day, then through a year. The vaccines help. We try to breathe. To reset. To continue. New names on old apartments. But the grief and trauma are too much. We resign from our positions.
Our friendship finds footing in a “new normal” we never wanted. Our spirits hesitantly return. We go to the art museum. I grab his hand, lead him to the ghostly portrait. My head rests on his shoulder. “How does she feel now?” I ask. We stare. We breathe.
“Content. Like she’ll be okay.” He hugs me, whispers, “we’ll be okay.”
About the Author – Hannah Opp
Hannah Opp is a writer and student from the United States who will be published in the forthcoming issue of the medical humanities journal Ars Medica. She strives to see the art in the everyday and hopes to create pathways to empathy within her writing.
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