Rhino has always had allergies. 

Late night allergies. Enough of the time that I think nothing of it when he sniffles up, loading tissues like a t-shirt cannon.

We think it’s mostly dust, stirred up in the evenings when we turn the ceiling fan on in his room. The first couple minutes are fine but then once the dust hits his passage, he’s all sneezes, and snotty nose blows echo the stairwell. After a few minutes it passes, he sleeps, and the echoes fade.

This morning, before school starts, the allergies seem more pronounced. He creaks his way down the stairs, unleashing his superpower to get places…just…on…time. It’s almost time for him to get to school and I’m gently not so gently nudging him there.

My nose is still running

he comments, nonchalant

I think you’ll be okay boss 

I reply, equally nonchalant

He steps outside and makes his way to school, and I’m so grateful that he’s able to be on campus again. We are in an interminable stretch of distance learning bookended by long periods of lockdown

It’s wearing us all down

Case counts have been steadily rising, rising since April in fact, a long long weekend that was the patient zero in a country that had previously thought they had COVID licked.

But as we have found,

COVID licks back.

On this day, I’m unconcerned. Rhino’s twice vaccinated now, my worries around it are less.

Until I get the call

It’s the school nurse, she’s also a friend.

Why would she be calling me now

And that’s when I put it all together. The runny nose, the mid-morning call from the school health center.

This can’t be good.

He’s got one positive and one negative test so we need you to go and take him to the clinic for a PCR


Okay, thanks for letting me know. I’ll be over as soon as I can.

In an already challenging few months, 

I don’t know if I’m ready for this.

But I have a reputation, whether in my own mind, or verifiable.

I step up.

And I’m good in a crisis.

At least that’s what I tell myself. 

And as I round up Elephant, throw my layers on and hop on the bike to grab Rhino from school,

It’s all I need to hear.

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

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  1. Oh no. Cliff hanger. I hope he’s COVID-negative. The way you told this story I was sucked right in. This is a “life is hard” slice. I hope writing about it brought you some creative energy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope there’s a part 2 to this story–you’ve got me waiting to know what happened next! I love the way you disperse inner dialogue throughout the piece along with short, to-the-point descriptions of what is going on. Keeps the story moving and really holds my attention!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh man, this made me tear up. I’ve absolutely had to create my own reputation according to me — crazy, but it helps. Your writing just flows. Also I lol’d at the superpower to get places just on time… I’ve got a kid like that, too.

    Liked by 1 person

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