Something deadly outside but I have to be at work

Empty grocery store aisles due to Coronavirus panic buying.

7:00 a.m.
I wake up and keep hitting snooze until 8:05 probably because of depression. 

8:10 a.m.
I turn on my old computer so it will be up and running by the time I get out of the shower.

8:12 a.m.
I feed the cats breakfast and make coffee.

8:15 a.m.
I jump in the shower, but not before sitting on the toilet for almost ten minutes reading about the disaster. I make sure not to use too much TP. 

8:29 a.m.
After showering, I get dressed while listening to the latest news via the Amazon Echo—Alexa’s  voice, which I find soothing during these troubled times, announces the live stream of NPR.

8:35 a.m.
I prepare my coffee with lots of cream and sugar because what if it is the end of the world? Why not?

8:40 a.m.
I drink some Ensure that my mom gave me during my last visit. It tastes like Vanilla chalk, but is quite filling.

845 a.m.
I sit at my kitchen table where I do my writing, and surrounded by books, pull up the WORD doc of my novel in progress and begin to write.

8:55 a.m.
I check Twitter via the app on my smartphone to find out the latest news and check notifications. After realizing I’m procrastinating, I abruptly turn off my phone and throw it on my bed. I sip coffee and sigh. 

8:56 a.m.
I write two more paragraphs. I reread what I wrote. I clean up a sentence or two. I write another sentence followed by another until I have a new paragraph. I add dialogue between two characters who are sitting on a couch, in a bright living room, in a beachside apartment, in Barranquilla, Colombia, in the mid-90s. I re-save. I google mid-90s events and check the time.

9:02 a.m.
I save the work again, jotting down the word count of the novel at 218,700. I email myself the document and turn off the computer.

9:04 a.m.
I clean the kitty litter and pick up the garbage. I wash my hands for about five minutes with warm water as the cats stare at me because they want treats. I give them three each. The girl cat looks up at me adoringly but the boy cat is too demanding, he wants more treats and I curse at him.

9:15 a.m.
I leave the apartment with my to-go coffee, get in my car and  head to work which is about a five to eight minute drive.

9:28 a.m.
I park in the garage and walk into the office saying good morning about three times down the hall before I reach my cubicle, plump down on my office chair and log into my work computer.

9:29 a.m.
I sip my highly caffeinated coffee ordered from Amazon and begin to feel the rush. I can overhear my coworkers discussing the disaster.

9:30 a.m.
The market opens. I begin my work.

9:34 a.m.
The market drops and they activate the circuit breaker and trading stops.

9:35 a.m.
I don’t think about my 401(k). 

9:45 a.m.
Trading starts again. Prices continue to drop then go up for a little bit and then drop again but not as fast.

9:55 a.m.
I continue to not think about my 401(k).

10:00 a.m.-1:29 p.m.
I read and reread Yahoo! Finance until the words and the letters and the sentences transform into meaningless symbols.

1:30 p.m.
I decide to go to the grocery store during my lunch break and they’re out of toilet paper, meat, and the frozen food aisle is almost completely empty. 

1:35 p.m.
I’m fortunate enough to find ten frozen Amy’s Black Bean Organic Burritos. I buy them all and head back to the office.

1:40 p.m.
Driving back to the office I remember I forgot the cat food. I yell ‘fuck my life’ out loud inside my car at a red light.

1:50 p.m.
I return to work with enough time left in my lunch break to heat up one of the frozen burritos in the microwave and eat it at my desk. It’s a bean and cheese burrito and very satisfying. My coworkers ask me how the grocery store was and I reply that it was packed with people and empty of food. They also ask me how the burrito tastes and I say, “Not bad.”

“Would you get it again?”

 I think about the question as I finish the last bite.

 “Yes,” I say, “I think I would.”

  I smile. My stomach is happy.

2:00 p.m.
After going to the restroom, and washing my hands before and after I use the urinal, I make sure to squeeze some hand sanitizer on to my hands.

2:30 p.m.
I work intermittently as the news comes in. I insert plugs into the appropriate jacks and proofread and disseminate announcements with numbers I don’t understand down chutes and tubes that I don’t know where they lead.

4:00 p.m.
The market closes. The Dow plunged over 2,000 points. I go to the restroom again and make sure to wash my hands before and after I use the urinal. I clean my hands with sanitizer upon reaching my cubicle.

4:30 p.m.
I don’t think about my 401(k).

5:00 p.m.
I continue to disseminate announcements down chutes and tubes and inserting plugs into jacks.

6:00 p.m.
I say goodbye to my co-workers and head out.

6:05 p.m.
I drive directly to the grocery store and get lucky and find a big bag of the cat food my cats like. I also grabbed some kitty litter and a paperback novel by Dennis Lehane from the magazine stand simply because he had me hooked from the first page.

6:30 p.m.
When I get home I call my mother and tell her I will see her tomorrow but only so I can drop off food because I might be infected. She scolds me and then tells me she loves me.

6:36 p.m.
I feed the cats. I clean the kitty litter.

6:45 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
I stretch out on my broken futon and with smartphone in hand and read stories about the disaster and check out Twitter.

8:00 p.m.
I eat ramen noodles and watch a YouTube video on self improvement and a second video with talking heads yelling at each other about who or what to blame for the disaster.

8:30 p.m.
I sit at my kitchen table, turn on my old computer and work on my novel. I write two full pages.

9:00 p.m.
I talk to an ex girlfriend on the phone. She tells me that because of the disaster, she will not be driving to Maryland to visit her sister.

9:30 p.m.-10:45 p.m.
I watch a YouTube video about how to make vegan buffalo wings with oyster mushrooms instead of chicken.

11:00 p.m.
I floss and brush my teeth and get ready for bed.

11:15 p.m.-1245 a.m.
I read The Godfather by Mario Puzo in bed while the cats stare at me. I’m at the part where Michael is visiting his father at the hospital after he’s been shot and he doesn’t find anybody guarding him.

1:00 a.m.
I browse Amazon on my smartphone for self defense weapons like knives and batons and place them in my basket but never click purchase.

1:30 a.m.
I fall asleep whispering a prayer for my mother, my family, my co-workers, my friends, and the love of my life who is in another state. I save her for last because she represents the happy times before the world turned into what it currently is. 

4:00 a.m.
I wake up to pee. 

4:06 a.m.
I go to the kitchen to drink a glass of water. The cats follow me; they want treats. I put the empty glass in the sink, turn off the kitchen light and go back to bed.

4:10 a.m.
I try not to think about my 401(k). 

4:30 a.m.
I fall asleep.

About the Author
Fawzy Zablah was born in El Salvador but raised in Miami. Among his works is the short story collection CIAO! MIAMI and the novel RARITY OF THE CENTURY. His fiction has been published widely at Hobart, 3AM Magazine, Acentos Review and Expat Press. His short story, THIS MODERN MAN IS BEAT, was adapted into an award winning short film in 2015 currently playing on Amazon Prime. He is hard at work on a novel about the Arabs and Jews of Latin America with the working title of GITANES.
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