Today, Atena will massage me for the first time in three years. COVID lockdowns and travel restrictions caused me to be stranded in the country of Cáscara for over two years. Atena, when the shutdowns were lessened, moved to another province in Orotina to escape the concentration of contagion.
She has such good energy. She is divine. As she massages me, she plays a CD with sounds of sea waves hissing over sand, birds softly chirping, air swishing through pines, and a woman chanting in Sanskrit. That all together removes my spiritual and muscle aches. As she massages me, I feel bad energy flowing out of my body and good energy seeping in.
Atena is poor, so we offered for her to live in our house while she visited Malos Aires.
Atena has COVID. She self-administered a home test after she had been in bed since she massaged me almost 36 hours ago. She wore a mask while she massaged me, and I thought that the mask was courteous but rare. Hardly anyone is wearing masks anymore. Her masked face hovered over me as she kneaded, rubbed, and palmed me. I did not wear a mask. I have been vaxed and double boosted. Just the last few days mark the first days I have not worn a mask when people visited my apartment. I also stopped wearing a mask in the apartment elevator, in cafés, in pharmacies, in clothing stores, in grocery shops. I started to feel out of place, as people here in Malos Aires are acting as if the virus is past tense.
Today I read on a social network post that another one of the contacts I follow has contracted COVID, as has the president of the United Colonies. Yes, their symptoms are less severe as were those who became infected before the vaxes, yes, the new COVID infected don’t die or become hospitalized, they have a light cough, a mild sore throat, a minimal fever, a dainty headache, a ceremonial restriction to their homes for a few days, but, has Atena become infected with a new variant? My wife has been close to her, nursing her as she lay in bed complaining of not feeling well. My wife, not wearing a mask, has been with her, in the same bedroom, before she took the test. Should I kiss my wife, dine with her, sleep with her?
I look out my office window, at the dying plants on the balcony, at the black winter-dormant vines clinging to the next-door building wall.