Affirmations for a Virus ~ fiction by Laura Louden

“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.”

Anne had stumbled upon a cache of affirmations on Pop Sugar and was painstakingly writing them down on an unopened envelope from LADWP.  A late payment notice. She could tell by the red ink on the bill peeking through.

Anne did not write them all down.  Some of them were just too damn perky. She just felt like she needed something positive around her. Her desk was covered with Post-its, slips of paper and a variety of masks she had purchased at the farmers’ market. Her most successful organizational technique had been to abscond with all the colored 3”x5” cards left from her kids’ high school study groups. She would write just the few things that had to be done on a specific day – surprisingly few – and stick it in an empty coffee cup close by.

Write EDD. Update will. Find passport.

It wasn’t really a desk but the breakfast room table.  Her daughter had moved back home after her lease and her job ended at the same time. An absurdly long couch, an overstuffed chair, and a daybed masquerading as a window seat forced Anne to squeeze in to even get to her chair.  Her daughter’s plants filled the front of her workspace, making it feel like a green fort.  A fort was a comforting image to Anne so the plants remained.

Anne had managed to snake the bathroom sink that morning; showing her bearded son, also back home, yet another skill he could easily adopt.  The drain had miraculously cleared, just leaving a sink full of black slime as a memento.

“Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable.”

Naturally, her dogs were happy.  Nearly the optimum number of walks, carrots anytime Anne moved to the kitchen to warm her coffee yet again. They sighed with contentment when she sat down.

Anne flipped over the envelope.  Ah, she had written some of her French sentences on the other side.  An hour of Duolingo a day, tending her vegetable garden before it got hot, and finding more things to get rid of, as if purging the house would empty it of despair.

“Il a préparé une tarte au thon et aux épinards. Je trouve que la viande a un gout vraiment fort.”

Another citizen alarm blasted from her phone, making her jump. Someone was throwing bottles into traffic a few blocks away. She warmed her coffee again, the microwave humming as she waited. She wasn’t sure what day it was but it was nearly 5:00.

“Make happiness a priority and be gentle to yourself in the process.”

She’d pay the DWP. Had she ever gotten a shingles vaccine?  She couldn’t remember. But all of a sudden she was sure it was Tuesday.

After publishing a few pieces in The Kinsey Report, Tyro and LA Magazine,  Laura Louden decided to spend a few decades gathering material. Expect a flood of short stories, a few poems and a mid-sized novel.

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