THE QUARANTINE JOURNAL
Written by Diego L. Pedroza
The streets of Milwaukee, your city, are deserted. Summerfest was cancelled, classes went online, and you've been inside for 2 months.
[[Start writing your quarantine journal]]
April 16th, 2020.
It’s been uhm, fuck if you remember. It’s been enough. At first you thought you were going to be a natural at quarantine. You’ve been successfully avoiding your friends for ages. Without the government or social distancing being involved: [[Depressing Flashback]]
You remember just months ago, a room with the curtains closed making it seem darker than it is, although a bit of light seeps through the gaps. You were laying motionlessly on your bed, just like now, except you had no excuse then. Your phone rings. You instantly sigh and take a moment before even looking at the name displayed on the screen. Once you see it, you consider for a bit, but ultimately let it go to voicemail. [[End of Depressing Flashback]]
April 24th, 2020.
You told yourself you'd finally pursue the things that you couldn’t do pre-quarantine because you didn’t have the time. And you did actually try. You dabbled in French for a bit and messed around with the guitar, but all of that lasted like, less than Richard.<i> Oh, Richard, he wasn’t too bad</i>, you think. You were just too craz-- Nah he was fucking boring as fuck. You don’t feel the need to be nice to shit men anymore just because you're generally a nice person. He was boring and an alcoholic. Imagine being stuck with a guy like that on quarantine. That’d be more anxiety inducing than the actual pandemic. That’s the kind of guy Richard was, so of course it didn’t last. Unfortunately, [[French and guitar didn’t either.]]
This flashback is a bit less depressing: You're messing with the guitar, but ultimately get frustrated. It just doesn't feel like your fingers are long enough. You give up and decide to at least figure out French. You're watching the French film ‘Amelie’ on a hoodie, and repeating some lines to yourself while writing notes on your notebook. You snack on strawberries when you feel like you need a break to just watch the movie, then you go back to it:
You imitate Amelie's pronunciation, while still paying attention to the movie. At some point Richard calls your phone, but it's silenced and you're not paying attention to it. A lot of messages are piling up, notification after notification from a number you saved as ‘RICHARD DUMB FUCK’.
[[Back to the Present]]You're sitting on your bed, until you get frustrated and decisively launch out of your room and into the bathroom. You turn on the light and standing in front of the mirror, you say:
"This might have to do with me being completely alone, but sometimes I’ll look at myself in the mirror just to remind me that I’m still real, if that makes any sense. Not only does it serve as a reality check, but also reminds me of the undeniable babe that I am. Quarantine is looking great on me, if we’re being honest here. I mean, it’s the end of the world, isn’t it? I can say whatever I want without getting too self-aware about it, right? Who gives a shit? Uhm… (you're loud and excited as you confess to the mirror) Gray pants look pretty good on guys! (You think to yourself, then back to the mirror) Donald Trump is a fucking idiot! Uh… not really a hot take is it?, Uhmmm… (you pause) God, I’m boring, I have no controversial thoughts to yell to the heavens…"
You get frustrated with yourself again and [[go back to your room to find the your journal and start writing again.]]
You take a few moments to take deep breathes, and you jot the following:
<i>But anyways. Like Richard, French, and the electric guitar; I hope that, this too, passes faster than I expected. Most importantly, that it passes. Actually, the world’s already going to shits, I don’t wanna be part of the Apocalypse Group, you know? I don’t hope, I know, that this too will pass. Like everything else. I hope I remain enthusiastic in my next entry, or that the next is finally the last one. But I guess we’ll see, staying optimistic though. It’s supposed to be good for you, it’s like being vegan but for the brain, a brain-diet if you will. Okay, I’m gonna go. Yeah it’s time for me to go.</i>
Once you're done writing, you take a pause and shut the little notebook, smiling to yourself. You believe what you just wrote. This will pass.
[[Next entry.]]You're standing in aftershock in front of the mirror, holding a pair of scissors. Your hair is shorter than the last time you wrote an entry to this diary. Right after chopping it all off, you wrote:
November 20th, 2020.
It hasn’t been easy since the last time I wrote on this journal of mine. I’m the first one to admit it; complete isolation is not something I’m handling well. I’m at a ratio of 3 meltdowns per week, and I just cut my hair without really thinking about it. I kind of blacked out while doing it too… but hey, that orange cyst of a president is going to be out of the White House soon. So, some of it has been good, during the… pandy thing going on.
[[Someone's also got a diary, would you like to read it?]]Richard is sitting on his desk, angrily scribbling on his diary:
"Well, this is rock bottom. My mom put me on a cheap ass version of rehab they have at my hometown, because they can’t afford real rehab in Chicago anymore since it’s my fourth time. So now I have to bullshit these little journal entries for an 8 week program. Worst of all is, because of Covid, I need to do rehab from home. I don’t get the breakfasts prepared to me every morning, or hanging out with… like-minded individuals. I make better connections at rehab than at school. 'Interacting with others is a key part of recovery', I keep telling the staff, but they don’t give a shit, they’re underpaid. They’re just as fucked as I am, I swear I saw one of them doing molly. Anyways, I’ve been bored and at home so [[I decided to call Greta.]]
You are practicing French numbers out loud through YouTube tutorials, yelling to the TV:
"Sept, huit, neuf! Neuuufff! Neuuff— GAHH, How are you supposed to make that come out of your mouth naturally? NEUF. NEUF. IT SOUNDS LIKE I’M CHOKING ON A BIG MAC."
Your phone starts ringing. You look at it and your initial reaction is:
<i>Fuck no, I’m not answering.</i> and you throw the phone away. You then pretend to go back to paying attention to French lessons, but it’s too tempting. You think to yourself:
<i>Alright, I’m bored. There’s a pandemic going on. I’m bored out of my goddamn mind, I’ll just do it for entertainment. [[Fuck it that justifies it.</i>]]
"Hey, it’s me." Richard says.
"Sorry who is this?" you pretend to not know who's behind the call.
"Wait, are you kidding me? It’s only the mistake you can’t help but keep making. It’s me baby, your addiction. So now come to pappa and lets go for a ride. A quarantine ride."
<i>Andddd that is why I only liked him when I was wasted. God, how did I ever stoop so low? He talks like he was lobotomized at some point in time…</i>
"Hello? Did I come on too strong? Shit, I didn’t mean to. I’ve changed, Greta. I swear. I’m on a 8 week rehab program to be better… (thinking) To be better for you."
[[You tell him to fuck off]]
[[You're so bored and lonely, you give him a chance]]And you hang up the phone. This genuinely impacts Richard. He starts feeling the closest version to remorse that he is capable of.
You go about your life as normal, and you start to kind of regret it. I mean, it is quarantine after all. If there was ever a time to try stuff that you would normally not do, or justify going back to previous mistakes, it is now. These virus serves as an alternate reality. If this is your way to cope, to "get through these tough times" then so be it. You only get lonelier and lonelier. You decide to pick up the phone and dial the dreaded number that you´ve stopped yourself from calling at least 12 times since the beginning of lockdown...
Except he calls you before you hit the green button that would call him.
And this time you allow him to come.[[You're so bored and lonely, you give him a chance]]You 're painfully aware that you are A) Lonely, B) Horny, and C)Bored. And all of this combined are the usual cocktail that leads you to Richard. So you tell him:
"I don’t believe you, but I’m bored. And at least I know you don’t have Covid because you tell me all the time you hate 'the goddamn communists' and would rather kill yourself than getting the 'China virus.' Which… God, just that sentence by itself has so much fucked up going on, but if it’ll make a Trumper wear a mask then that’s more than I can ask."
"Yes ma’am, fuck the Wu-Han flu!" He responds
"Don’t blow it Richard. You can come, but you can’t be unnecessarily racist or I’ll kick you out immediately."
"Whatever allows Lil Richie to get a piece! I’m on my way."
<i>God, my standards. I need to dissect my childhood and past trauma because this shit isn't right. I’m aware I deserve better yet…</i>
[[Richard walks in the door without knocking.]]After a sigh, unamused, you realise that of course he is here:
"What’s up, babe?"
"Yup." God, what have you done?
[[You interact with Richard the only way that it’s worth it – with your bodies.]] The thing gets done, and once you’re not horny anymore, you realize that even if you’re lonely, you don’t want to be near him at all anymore. Now everything is about getting him out… politely:
"Soo… that was great. You were great, you were excellent. But I do have to go to sleep. Because of…the thing I have tomorrow morning."
"Oh great, lets go to sleep. I miss cuddling with my girl."
"Yeah Richard, last time you spent the night you somehow got out in the middle of the night, came back drunker and puked on my floor at 3:00am. You need to go."
"Oh I get it, so I’m just a quick fuck for you now? Wow Greta, 'cause I remember you accussed of me being an emotionless fuckboy before, so I love the double standard going on here."
"Yes Richard, back when I actually cared for you. Before you drank yourself blind and facetimed me while you were having sex with a different person. So yeah, sorry if I no longer think of you as anything but a hookup."
"Listen, you better than anyone should know how damaging it is to bring up an addict's past. I understand I made horrible decisions under the influence before but—"
"Richard shut up, you’ve been drunk since you got here. You don’t think I can smell it? You do not believe anything that you’re saying right now. So just leave my house before [[I call the police.]]"
<h1>Congratulations, you have unlocked: Richard's perspective. </h1>
Holy fuck, holy fuck, she dialed 911.
[[You get out immediately.]]
"WHY ARE YOU SO WEIRDLY CALM? THIS IS SOMEHOW WORSE. THIS CONFIRMS IT, YOU'RE A FUCKING SOCIOPATH." And you can clearly hear them now.
"Okay SHIT, the police is here. RICK please they're at the door, go now, you can still make it out the window!" But you won't respond. You get on your knees like you're about to pray. You don't care what happens.
BAM. Two policeman are tired of waiting and have burst through the door. "LADY GET OVER HERE WITH US, PLEASE." She is in true shock. She has a look on her face that tells you she didn't truly want this to happen.
"LADY, I SAID NOW." And she snaps out of it, going to them.
"NOW SIR, LAY ON YOUR BACK, YOU'RE UNDER ARREST FOR TRESPASSING." But you're still unresponsive and crying quietly.
"SIR, I SAID NOW." [[And you finally say:]]
You decide to leave her alone. It's not worth it to deal with your parents, the rehab center and potentially spending a night in jail.
However, you think you might've actually changed this time. You are genuinely upset. Not necessarily about the potential consequences that you could face, but the fact that she truly doesn't want you anymore.
You don't understand why to this day, but this was the day you were able to see for the first time your own decay. And the day you actually kicked the bottle. Greta was your salvation, and you will never appreciate anyone else more.
You never tried to contact her again. Which was the right thing to do.
<b> Note: for an alternative ending, go back and choose to stay. </b> <i> What is this?</i> You are genuinely confussed. This was the girl who truly couldn't quit you. If you think about it, she was the only constant in your life. Not your parents, not your friends, not even the bottle. Her. You want to cry but you don't understand why. You never truly cared about how she might feel... but she was always there. You never thought of a version of your life in which she wasn't there. After being lost in thought, and heavily breathing a bit to compose yourself, you blurt out:
"Greta. Please don't. I know you have no reason to trust me, and I will be upfront about myself. I'm not delusional. I know I'm not a catch... but... I think I love you. I've never said that before."
"No you don't Richard. Now, I was mainly pissed; and I do want you to go. But I don't want you to get arrested. So you have to go now. They told me they'd be here in 4 minutes, it's been 2. They could be here any second!"
You can't believe it. You are sick to your stomach, and crying. You thought you'd hit rock bottom, but this is actually it. Even Greta wants nothing to do with you. You say:
"You know what Greta? No. I finally understand the depth of my wrongs. I have lost you too now; the one thing, I realize now, I had going on for me. And I accept that. It's okay now, it's okay for me to go."
"God, you're bullshit skills have gotten a better over quarantine, I must admit, I was almost moved by that. But I also got better at introspection, and something I know now for a fact now, is that I don't want you in my life so you should-" You hear police sirens getting close to your house.
[["OKAY RICK YOU REALLY NEED TO GO NOW. NOW."]] "What's the point? Even if I get up, or stay down, or you get me on your handcuffs? I'm already on rehab. For the fourth time... What is... the point of it all?"
"SIR, THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING BEFORE I PERSONALLY FORCE YOU TO THE GROUND. NOW, DO AS I ASK, AND DON'T PULL ANYTHING FUNNY. MA'AM, IS HE ARMED?"
"Not that I know of." she answers. Tears still come slowly down your face, but for the first time, you start looking up. You can tell this makes everyone in the room very alert, ready to respond to whatever happens next. She sees you, with pleading eyes. You tell her what you've been thinking.
"I am sorry. For everything--" But your very loud ringtone starts going off, and the 2 policemen shoot you out of reflex and the sudden loud sound. You are shot at least 7 times. It hurts all around, and your vision is leaving you. The very last thing you get to see was the person who was calling. It was your mom. She was probably worried about you. She cared, after all. Of course she did. She always did. You just refused to see.