Illustration from the pulp magazine Weird Tales (October 1936). Source: Wikimedia Commons
A musical word, like belladonna. Beguiling and as full of deadly potential.
Flu is the thing we hope to avoid each winter, and whose vaccine we either get or don’t depending upon our opinions.
Shot or no shot, it can infect us—carried by the air we breathe, the objects we touch, the hands we shake.
It is ubiquitous. Like fear. With a mind and life of its own.
And despite my best intentions and massive doses of Vitamin C, it takes me down in January. Stealthily at first. And then with real insistence, it grabs me like a thief and hisses, “Don’t mess with me.”
I’ve heard it can last from three to six weeks—lingering. It can turn into whooping cough or pneumonia. It claims lives.
So I cancel everything that will require my leaving the house for two weeks, including a business trip back East.
And I go back to bed. I surrender to days of fevered delirium, fitful sleep, and waking dreams—nightmares mostly—of my life in various stages of collapse.
The flu as metaphor.
The flu as signifier.
The flu bearing news that I can hear in no other way.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
Is that it?