“I HOPE YOU ALL DIE!”
Those weren’t the last words Lizzie had told her family, but they might as well have been. She couldn’t remember what she said when Mama took Jayce and Jerkwad to the hospital, but it didn’t matter anyway. They were gone, and all she could remember were the screaming fights and hateful words.
Lizzie stared out through the gap in the dust-encrusted living room blinds. The streets were empty. At first patrol cars had come by several times a day blaring, “STAY INDOORS. NO PHYSICAL CONTACT.”
Now all was silent. Lizzie couldn’t remember when she had last seen a patrol car.
The clock showed mid-afternoon, but the gray excuse for a day in the Pacific Northwest was fading. Lizzie hauled herself out of the threadbare recliner and trudged to Mama’s bedroom. She snuggled under the covers wondering what she should eat for dinner. Mama had filled the freezer with pizzas before she left, but the same menu for a week was getting old.
Holes in the sheetrock beside the nightstand and the wires hanging out reminded her of the dead land-line. The day they went to St. Joseph’s Hospital, Mama called to say Jason, Jayce to Lizzie, was in room 314. The next day the phone didn’t work. At some point, fixing it became tearing it out of the wall in frustration.
Cell systems had been overloaded since state officials declared the pandemic four weeks before. With the phones down and spotty Internet, Lizzie was alone and disconnected from what was happening. She wanted to go outside. Screw the quarantine.
AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” jerked Lizzie back to her surroundings. Her cell phone? When had it started working? She threw off the covers and followed the sound to the couch in the living room. A picture of Mama that Lizzie loved and Mama hated glowed on the screen.
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