By Ekta R. Garg
Prompt: She was watching from the window of the house on the hill…
“Hello. This is a courtesy call from the public health department…”
Daisy pressed the landline phone to her ear as she watched the procession from the window of the house on the hill. Even now, 15 months after moving in, she still thought of it as the house on “the hill” as opposed to her house. But then, sometimes she still thought of Bryan as Cari’s husband instead of her own.
“Please press one to speak to a representative about your test results…”
In the early months, she saw so many processions she lost track. Every week, it felt like. A dark hearse would wind its way into the parking lot, followed by two cop cars and then the vehicles of others. Family and friends, she presumed. Who else would show up at the cemetery to watch a funeral?
“Please hold while we transfer your call…”
An outdated country song twanged in her ear, and she glanced at the phone in surprise. She’d never received a call like this before, but her friends who had assured her they’d spoken to someone right away. Maybe, with the number of tests going up and more results coming back, the wait time had gotten longer too.
Daisy coughed, grimacing at the pain in her chest, and continued to watch this latest funeral procession. People exited their cars, heads bowed. She could always tell who was closest to the deceased. They were the ones who broke down, who trudged toward the gravesite. A few times, in other processions, they’d been the ones who couldn’t move forward without someone else’s help.
“Hello, my name is Emily. To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking today?”
“Daisy. Daisy Quentin.”
“Date of birth?”
She confirmed that as well as the address and bobbed on her toes.
“Your test results came back positive, ma’am.”
Daisy stopped breathing for a moment but started coughing the next. She coughed so hard she missed the next instructions from Emily from public health. After reassuring the woman she would read all the guidelines from the CDC and offering additional information so public health could follow up she managed to hang up the phone.
Her gaze went back to the funeral procession. Over the last year, she’d watched so many from the window that she’d grown used to them. Now she wondered whether in the coming months Bryan would join one of those processions.
Their relationship had started with lies. Lies to their families; their then-spouses. Their coworkers. Bryan had assured her, over and over, that he loved her, that he wanted to be with her and that marrying Cari had been a mistake. The pandemic the previous year, despite its hardships, almost felt like a second honeymoon. All that alone time. All that time to enjoy this house on the hill.
Except she’d never fully enjoyed it. Bryan did everything he could to make sure he’d cleaned out all of Cari’s things, but Daisy found a pair of shoes high up in the closet one day. Seeing them made her feel like someone had kicked the air from her lungs. She’d been with Cari on one of their regular “girls’ nights” when Cari bought them.
Now she’d tested positive for COVID. It wasn’t the positive test she’d been hoping for. That one still sat in the bathroom, its minus sign a prim confirmation that she wouldn’t be a mother, not this go-around.
The tune of “Taps” came to her, and she turned back to the window. A funeral and for a vet, no less. Would she have a funeral soon? Would Bryan pick out something nice for people to listen to at the service?
Did she deserve this awful virus after what she’d done to her friend?