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National Superhero Day

Do you know what today is? It’s National Superhero Day! Ok…I just found out last week from an article on Google that read this is an actual day. Who would have thought? Apparently, it has been an annual holiday for years. But, I’m excited because I am a huge superhero fan! Live action, comic book, animated, video games, etc. I’ve been apart of the fandom since knee high! In honor of the day I am currently at work wearing my Black Panther shirt with black Puma sneakers.

DC, Milestone, Marvel, Image, and other comic books franchises, I support them. My earliest memory of watching a superhero on TV was probably Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman that aired Sunday nights on ABC. Then, I was a FOX Kid dedicating hours of my life after school to its lineup of shows such as Batman: The Animated Series, Spiderman, X-Men (I can hear its theme song in my head as I type this), Power Rangers, The Tick, etc. I’ve read different comic books about these superheroes during their abilities to protect the innocent. I watched the Blade trilogy of the late 90s which ultimately saved Marvel and the entire live action superhero movies as a whole. And you don’t even have to ask about the Marvel Cinema Universe, I jumped on the bandwagon when it was just an online rumor.

But, what really makes the Superhero franchises so successful is not just the story, but the villain themselves bring out the best in our favor superheroes and really sell the story being told. Whether the villain is an equal match like Doomsday is to Superman, a force stronger than the mightiest heroes combined like Thanos is to The Avengers, a motivational speaker with an evil mind like The Joker is to Batman, a jealous citizen fighting to overtake the throne like M’Baku is to Black Panther, or superheroes fighting each other like Captain America versus Ironman, the villain adds an extra layer of importance that the superhero must overcome.

Even though this is National Superhero Day, and the day pertains to fictional superheroes with superhuman strength and abilities, or a man/woman who uses SciFi technological suit that enhances his/her abilities to have a fighting chance, we have everyday superheroes who are doing extraordinary things in our real world. The Covid Pandemic, supervillain, has wreaked havoc on our lives for over two years now. Businesses have been destroyed or altered to combat lower wages. Employees watched their income reduced as their jobs have tried to weather the pandemic. With little to no preparation, these same people had to find different means of income just to survive our newly adopted pandemic world. Our schools had to turn to e-learning forcing struggling parents to make tough financial decisions so their children can learn. As we battled with stay-at-home orders and rising then falling then rising again cases on the daily in addition to several variants, we have also battled with increased cases of anxiety and depression from being forced to stay home amongst ourselves. All of this does not include the people who died at the hands of Covid-19 or still has long-standing effects from contracting the virus.

Yet, a team of superheroes worked around the clock taking on a villain they had no prior preparation for. Risking their lives daily they put on their mask, gloves, face shields and uniforms fighting this disease on the frontlines because it has become their duty. Spending time away from their own families for their safety and well-being, these heroes put their superpowers to the ultimate test while suffering mentally. Sometimes successful, but also witnessing lives lost to this virus, our superheroes did whatever they could to put an end to the pandemic urging others to stay vigilant and do their part to help slow the spread. Although these heroes got help with limited resources and increased patient numbers, they wore their capes knowing they are the team this world needs. Some of our superheroes died trying to save others at the hands of the very same virus while the remaining are still working saving lives or hung their capes for good due to the anxiety developed during the fight.

If you don’t know who these superheroes are by now I am talking about the doctors, nurses, and medical staff who risked their lives everyday to cure patients of the Coronavirus. Also, the same healthcare professionals who were forced into working Covid units due to a severe shortage and high volume of patients who really needed saviors. I am talking about the fellow healthcare professionals who had to treat other illnesses and deliver newborns during the pandemic with limited resources and help. The scientist who focused on finding a cure for the coronavirus through vaccination, but kept urging the general public to practice social distancing while they worked on a cure. The teachers who were teaching in-person one week and through e-learning the next while still being subjected to lower salaries and little to no funding for a proper education. The daycare workers who put in extra hours to sanitize their rooms hoping the children they watch don’t become a superspreader. The parents who made sacrifices to their livelihood to meet the demands of parenting during a pandemic. The new parents who missed out on traditional baby showers while giving birth to a baby without the presence of family members. The janitors who worked long hours sanitizing every corner of buildings so workers can feel safe at work. The grocery store employees who encountered people everyday not knowing if they have been exposed to Covid, but kept working to ensure the citizens have food to buy. The essential workers who may not have fought the coronavirus directly, but had to show up to work everyday because work from home was not an option for them.

There are plenty of other superheroes I did not mention, but just know we have everyday superheroes who risked their lives during the pandemic to keep the world we live in going. They walk among us everyday and each have the battle scars to prove it.

Happy Superhero Day 2022

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the virus spread

Story written by: Preston A. Thompson

Dear employees,

We are sending this email with deep concern and empathy. On Friday over half of our 1119 employees across our four locations, the majority working in production, called out of work due fever-like symptoms. These employees were informed to get tested for COVID at any free testing location immediately and once the results came back, they send us proof of their results. It is now estimated approximately 311 employees have been confirmed positive for the COVID-19 virus. In addition, 121 employees have negative COVID results and are sick from the regular flu or cold while the remaining are waiting for results. At this time, these employees will not be returning to work until they have negative test results after a two-week quarantine period and no COVID-related symptoms. We wish all employees affected well wishes and to remain safe during these unprecedented times.

Here at work, we are more than just employees, we are a family. We follow the health expert’s guidelines to help stop the spread and hope to contribute to putting an end to this pandemic. We want to ensure that you and your family are safe. In compliance to the health expert’s guidelines with our own COVID safety guidelines we have decided that effective at the end of today all production will be suspended until we can ensure employees are working in a safe environment. All employees must provide proof of a negative test to return to work once production reopens. Please check your work email during this shut down for updates involving work. We advise you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible at the nearest testing site. In the meantime, all employees will be required to use PTO for each day out of work as it is written in our new Pandemic Agreement. We are sorry for this inconvenience. Remember to stay safe and follow our COVID Safety Guidelines below:

  • Pay attention to local news and government guidelines
  • Practice social distancing with and without mask
  • Wear mask when you are not home
  • Wash hands frequently and always keep hand sanitizer
  • Wipe down things you have finished using with sanitizing wipes
  • Avoid large gatherings
  • If you suspect you are sick with COVID, DO NOT come to work or gather in large crowds. Get tested right away and quarantine until your results are negative

Once again, we thank you for working so hard during these unprecedented times. We hope you remain safe.


Human Resources

               This was the email Human Resources sent to the entire work organization at 8:28 a.m. The time is 10:38 am. “What have we done?” Davis Young says as Lamar Keith, Karl Stanley, and Antonio Thomas stand behind him reading the email from the operator’s public computer. “I knew this was a bad idea! Karl, this is your fault!”

               “My fault!?! Nawl homie! You got me messed up!”

               “Yes Karl, it is!” Antonio comes to Davis’s defense. “You planned for us to play hooky three weeks ago!”

               “But we agreed on it!” Karl says with anger. “Don’t you put this all on me! We followed the safety guidelines that day…well not you Davis. Not all the wa…”

               “Ok, stop right there!” Davis interrupts. “Either way, we all had to have come in contact with someone who had it, and one of us is not being honest!”

               Lamar finally speaks, “Not me. Hey! It’s just my wife and I, and she works from home.”

               “But does she know about you skipping work?” Lamar does not answer Antonio’s question. “I’ve been going from work to home to work minus that one day.”

               “Same here” Karl says. “Davis?”

               “Me four,” Davis says as the three guys look at him with a straight face. “It was just lunch, that’s all.”

               “That’s been trendy with you lately,” Antonio says with a grim. They laugh at each other.

“Look,” Davis interrupts, “we need to get back to work, get tested again when we get off so it can say negative, and we can return back to work in two days.” He puts his mask laying on the table beside the computer on as the others do the same. He reaches for his hard hat, slowly puts it on his head and adjusts it by turning the screw on the chinstrap until it firmly fits his head. He leans back on the computer chair, takes a deep breath but exhales too quickly. This triggers a mild asthma attack. Davis quickly reaches in his uniform pocket for a rescue inhaler. He removes the tiny canister out of its placeholder, shakes vigorously for a few seconds, then puts it back firmly fitting the nozzle into its hole. He pops open the mouthpiece cap and stuffs it in his mouth. As he slowly inhales, he presses down on the canister to administer the aerosol spray of medicine into his lungs. Davis holds his breath for several seconds then exhales. He repeats a second time. This time he has immediate relieve as breathing returns to normal.

               “You good my dawg?” Antonio asks as the other two look in fear.

               “Yea. Thank God for inhalers.” Davis puts the inhaler back in his pocket, pushes himself off the computer chair with his long arms, and stands up. His 6-foot, 3 inches height, dark skin complexion, and athletic posture hoovers over the other three guys who all are 5 feet, 7 inches in height and brown skin. “All is good. It happens sometimes. Let’s get back to work.”

The time is now 2:15 pm. Davis is in the lead operator’s office sitting down at a table going over today’s paperwork and scheduling for a production shutdown. Suddenly, he hears high heels clapping against the concrete floors from outside of the office with each step. The door opens and in comes Mrs. Trinity Walker. She smiles and walks over to Davis. “It’s that guy!” She sticks out her fist towards him as Davis does the same. They fist pump. Davis notices Trinity’s jet-black wavy afro behind a white headband exposing her perfect hairline. Her jet-black hair shines from the light above. He notices the light also reflects off her light brown, baby oiled forehead as she begins to talk. “Let me put my mask on.” Trinity pulls out a pink mask with gold glitter from her purse and covers her mouth and nose. “It matches my pink business suit and heels.” She models her coke bottle shaped body in front of Davis. As she twirls the aroma of her cocoa butter lotion with a lavender fragrance fills the room. “Do you like? My husband bought all this for my birthday?”

               Davis laughs, “Trendy Lady! What brings a manager like you to this peasant’s office? We can’t even get a proper desk.” He lightly shakes the table so Trinity can hear the squeaking of the table legs below. “Leads have to share this table. Does the front office not fit your expertise?” He teases.

               “Boy stop! You know I’m one of the guys!” She nudges him on the right shoulder causing him to accidentally make a pen mark error on his paperwork. He looks at her with wide eyes then looks normal. “I’m sorry…but in all seriousness. Did you read the email HR sent this morning?”

               “Yeah, it’s crazy, man.”

               “Listen, I submitted an anonymous report about three weeks ago on my birthday.” Davis’s attention is now fully focused on Trinity as she continues. “No one is in here, but just to make sure no one hears me…” she powerwalks to the door as her heels clap against the floor with each step then closes the door shut. She gracefully walks back towards Davis. “After we went out for lunch on my birthday, I was sitting at my desk and started to cough. I had a dry cough that did not go away.” She pauses. “Let me ask, did you feel sick or anything over these past two weeks?”

               Now is not the time to be honest, Davis. “No,” he replies.

               “Well, I believed I had COVID. So, I submitted an anonymous report to HR, left, and got tested. Since I am the Lead Business Accountant for this place, go me, I requested to work from home until I got tested for COVID. Well, two days later my results came back, and it confirmed, I was positive. I’m scared I may have been the one to cause this outbreak.”

               “Who all have you been around?”

               “It’s crazy, Davis. You know I’m very sociable. Most of the guys came to my office to wish me a happy birthday and gave me gifts before we went out for lunch. Antonio and the guys stopped by for a minute. I couldn’t get anything done because some stayed and talked. It was enough time to spread it around.”

               “And mask?”

               “They all had mask on, I did off and on. You know how I am. I was going to tell you to get tested, but since you’ve been here this whole time and did not get any symptoms, I guess you’re fine.”

               “Let’s keep this between you and me. No one has to know…What about your husband?”

               “He got tested and came back negative which is odd because we sleep together every night. So did my two little girls, Gracie and Angela. The girls still went to school while I stayed locked up in the bedroom for two weeks. At least I had my streaming shows to watch.” She laughs. “But then this morning I saw this.” She pulls out her phone from inside her business suit jacket and shows Davis a breaking news video from the local news channel.

               “Hi! I am Tracy Griffin coming to you live with breaking news outside of the city.” Tracy Griffin’s name appears on the screen in bond white font. The subtitle under her name reads ‘Recipient of the 51st Annual Black News Reporters Award.’ Her face has an extra coating of light brown makeup to match her skin tone. Her hair is dark brown and permed. “The elementary school located southeast of the city has been closed due to a COVID outbreak. We spoke with the school nurse, and she reported thirteen students came to her with what resembled COVID symptoms during normal school hours. It has been reported more students are developing symptoms as I speak. District school leaders are scrambling to find a solution.”

               A break in the video goes from the news station to an outside interview with an older black man standing in from the elementary school. He wore thick, black-framed bifocals. Dressed in a beige suit with a white button up shirt and a matching beige tie, he begins talking with his mouth covered by a green mask with a printed red apple slightly tilted on the right side. His name appears in a bold black font inside a red box with the news logo on the left side as Superintendent Charlie Powers, and the subtitle below his name reads The County District No. 1 Head Superintendent. He says with a raspy voice. “It was a tough decision. We do not know if these children have confirmed cases of the Coronavirus at this present moment. Our board had an emergency meeting this morning and decided it is with best interest if we shut down the school and send our children home. We also informed all parents of our decision through voice-activated calls. We are sorry. In the meantime, education must continue. We will move to virtual learning effective tomorrow. All children are encouraged to get on their computers and learn from home.”

               The screen goes back to the news station with Tracy Griffin. “We will keep you updated on the latest information we can gather. God bless that school. Now, let’s go to the weather with our chief meteorologist, Justin Cowburger! HI JUSTIN!” The phone screen turns black.

               As Trinity puts her phone away, Davis looks down in disbelief. Super spreader!

               “Our children go to that same elementary school.”

               “Right!” Davis replies. “Just don’t say anything. No one knows how this virus is spreading. These are just guidelines and recommendations the ‘experts’ feel that are safe. Let’s just play this out.”

               “Davis, you really are that guy! I feel so much better talking to you because you’re so laid back.” She looks at her smartwatch. “It’s almost time for me to go. Hey Davis! Thanks again for everything. I am so sorry for all of this…by the way, that expensive wine you got me for my birthday was fantastic! My husband loved it just as much as I did! How did you find it at the grocery store?”

               “Yeah, see my wife recommended it!”

               “Well, she has great taste! If she’s anything like you, we must meet each other. It’s funny how in four years of working together, we only met once. That was at the company Christmas party three years ago, and nothing since then.” She puts her hands on her hips and stands straight at 5 feet, 8 inches, but with high heels on she stands an inch short of 6 feet. Her coke bottle shaped body straightens.

               “Schedule never seems to sync, my best guess. Ok, Trendy Lady! It’s time for you to go. I’m trying to get out of here soon.”

               “Ok, bye Davis!” She smiles, touches his shoulder, and walks out the door. Without looking, Davis listens for the clapping of her heels against the floor fade away as she walks out the office and shut the door behind her.

The plant closed for three days. Over its course, Davis got tested again and constantly checked his personal email awaiting negative test results. He also checked his work email for any updates about reopening the plant. I’ve had it once, no way I can get it again. In the meantime, his family quarantined upstairs while Davis remained downstairs. He did his fatherly and husband duties by cooking for his family and leaving food at the master and son’s bedroom doors. The food was left in paper plates since it is easily disposable and minimizes the risk of possible contamination. He also left medicine and vitamin D with water for them to take daily.

His family’s main form of communication during those two days was through video chatting on their phones and personal laptops. To also pass the time, he connected his video game console to the downstairs TV playing online multiplayer with random people. One day, he formed a team with some guys he played with in a match. They would become online friends.

               Three days after the plant’s closure Davis receives an email at 10:39 am from the 24-hour pharmacy where he got retested for COVID. He opens a page from the click here link. The page quickly opens as Davis begins to scroll to the bottom of the page to find his results.

Based on your second test results, your sample has tested negative for SARS-CoV-2/2019-nCoV confirming no match for the COVID-19 virus.

               Davis stops reading and screenshots the page. He forwards it to HR through email. Later than day, he receives a call from HR telling him the plant will reopen tomorrow only for lead operators who have negative test results. Even though it will be Saturday, he is expected to go to work for a few hours to restart reactors and review paperwork before the shutdown.

That night, he drinks the remaining amount of expensive wine he purchased for his wife a week ago. His family’s health has improved, but for safety purposes he makes them quarantine for another day. Davis begins washing dishes when he sees “Breaking News” flash across the TV screen in bold white letters with a bright red background.

               “Hi, I am Tracy Griffin reporting to you live with some breaking news out of the town. The mayor has issued a state of emergency as COVID cases have soared over the last two days. Since I reported about the outbreak at the local elementary school three days ago, the town has witnessed its numbers double according to the local hospital.”

               The screen switches to a recording of the mayor standing in front of the local hospital with the town’s sheriff standing to the left of him and his wife to the right from earlier that day. They all were wearing white mask with the town’s green emblem on the right side. The name Mayor Ellis Major appears across the screen in bold black font inside a red rectangular box with the news station’s logo on the left side on the screen below him. He is an older black man in his late sixties. He was bald at the top of his head with gray hair on the side trimmed low. He wore thick black bifocals. “Right now, we are declaring a state of emergency for our town. The numbers are too high to continue our day-to-day outdoor activities. We have issued a curfew from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am. All public businesses, i.e., grocery stores, library, restaurants, fitness centers, any businesses where crowds congregate will be forced to close at 7 o’clock pm, no questions asked whatsoever. For now, we are looking to reopen under a modified curfew in about two weeks. If you work or travel for work during those hours, you will be safe, but please have an approved signed letter from your workplace with you because our police force will pull you over and will make you go back home if you are out and do not have this letter. Thank you.”

               The screen switches back to the news station with Tracy Griffin. “We will keep you updated with more breaking news once as we gather more information. God, bless that town…OKAY! Now, it is time for the weather with our chief meteorologist, Justin Cowburger!” When she turns to the left, her facial expression is surprised! She immediately begins to laugh. “Justin! Is that you dressed in a snorkeling suit!?!?”

               “Why yes, it is, Tracy!” Justin says off-camera. The camera pans over to the green screen containing the weather map of the major city and its surrounding cities and towns of its metropolitan area. Justin, a skinny man with low-cut blonde hair is dressing in a black snorkeling suit with snorkeling goggles placed on his forehead. A blue snorkel pike attached to the googles rests on his right shoulder. “Whow!” He empties a fin containing water onto the floor. “Have you seen our ratings lately? We have to do something!” Tracy is laughing hysterically off-camera. “This snorkeling suit is synonymous with the powerful system that’s coming our way from the mountains in the next few hours. Our sister station is reporting torrential rain right now as I speak and looking at some of the images…COWBURGER! It looks like you can barely see what’s in front of you! If you are going out before 7 am you will need more than an umbrella and raincoat. You might need a snorkeling suit like the one I have one right now! (My brother makes these; you can purchase from his online beach shop.) Right now, it is 11:07 pm, and the skies are clear with no stars. However, around 3 am that system will come through bringing enough rain for fish to swim in! I’m talking a foot. A perfect time to reflect from the reflection of yourself on a window. No lightning activity has been detected on our satellite radar, just a downpour. Now, this system will move out of our viewing area around 8 am tomorrow. If you are traveling, please be careful.”

               He looks out the kitchen window to see a few raindrops on the outside window. A small raincloud covers the full moon that shines brightly in the night sky. More raindrops begin to hit the outside of the window. He listens for the calm, soothing sound of rain splashing against his house. As the minutes pass, the rain is light and constant with no signs of a downpour. Justin is terrible at his job!

               Suddenly, Davis’s thoughts are interrupted by his wife, Dayla. “DAVIS ANDERSON YOUNG!” He turns to the stairs to see his wife standing tall at 5 feet, 8 inches on the last step with her hands on her hips. She is wearing a pink, silky nightgown that shows her hourglass-shaped body. Her jet-black, wavy afro behind a white headband exposes her perfect hairline with a widow’s peak. The light from the top of the stairs reflects off her light brown skin. “DID YOU NOT GET MY TEXT AND CALLS?!?! THE TV IS TOO LOUD! TURN IT OFF AND GO TO BED!” She turns around and stomps up the stairs.

               “Well, she’s back to normal.” He grabs his phone lying face down on top of the kitchen island. He enters six numbers on the passcode screen to unlock the screen and notices his phone was on silent with eight text messages notifications and a missed phone call from his wife. He swipes two times to the left and presses the TV remote app with his thumb. From inside the app, he presses the power button that turns the TV off. Then, he closes the app and opens the home security app. He scrolls down to find on-screen light bulbs. He looks for the “Living Room Lights” and presses the yellow bulb until it turns black. This causes the lights in the living room to turn off. He does the same with the kitchen. Then, he sets the security alarm to activate from his phone. He walks over to the couch in the living room and lays down on it. Before he falls asleep, he sets a work alarm for 5:00 am then puts the phone down on the living room table. The soothing sound of raindrops from outside calms Davis as he dozes off to sleep.

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I’m positive

Story written by: Preston A. Thompson

Your COVID-19 Results Are Now Available is the title of an email Davis Young nervously reads from his phone. The email notification appeared on his screen shortly after clocking in for work at 6:00 am. He could have opened it then, but his work bro, Karl Stanley, was walking beside him talking about his weekend and how his ninth-grade son scored twenty points, two assists, and one rebound coming off the bench for the high school varsity basketball team. “I’m tellin’ ya, Davis!” Karl said. “My son spendin’ one year in college then he’s going pro! You heard it here first!”  They both laughed.

Davis is hiding in the last stall inside of the men’s bathroom. It is a routine he does every other day since being promoted to lead chemical operator. He hides in the stall to escape the mental demands of being a lead while staying on the clock for pay; however, today is different. Not only is he hiding, but Davis has been waiting for his Covid-19 test results since getting tested two days prior. 

Davis presses on the “click here” link found in the middle of the email which slowly loads a new page. A drop of sweat rolls down his forehead entering his left eye. The sting felt from his eye does not bother him because his focus is on the anticipated Covid-19 results. On this day, the 5G coverage is producing weak signals on smartphones throughout the job site while the WiFi is down for a scheduled monthly security maintenance. A company-wide email was sent by IT reminding all employees about downtime from 9:30 am to 10:30 am. 

The time is now 10:41 am according to the digital clock with red numbers above the men’s bathroom door while Davis’s phone reads 10:38 am. “Typical IT!” he says to himself out of frustration.

                The link from the email finally loads a new page with Davis’ test results. He skims through the top to verify his personal information then scroll to the SARS-CoV-2/2019-nCoV Results paragraph at the bottom. Suddenly, Davis’s attention is interrupted when he hears the urinal flush several stalls down. From the stall’s door small opening below, he sees a man’s black suede shoes walk towards the sink and stop. The squeaking turn of the faucet handle then noise of water rushing out of the faucet echoes in the bathroom for five seconds then stops. The black suede shoes bypass the paper towel dispenser and hands-free hand sanitizer heading out the exit.

               He barely washed his hands! That’s how this thing spreads, a lack of personal hygiene. He looks back at his phone. Ok. Back to the results. 

               Davis finds the SARS-CoV-2/2019-nCoV Results paragraph again and begins to read:

Based on the test results, your sample has **** 

A text notification from his wife interrupts. He quickly presses the notification with his thumb, and the page instantly switches to the text app.


Good morning husband! I love you and hope you have a wonderful day at work! Dinner will be ready tonight! Your favorite!

Thank you, Honeydew! I love you too! I can’t wait!!!

Davis slightly swipes upward to see all opened apps and clicks the email app to enlarge the page. He continues reading:

Based on the test results, your sample has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2/2019-nCoV confirming your match for the COVID-19 virus. Please follow****

               Davis cannot read anymore for the word “positive” was all he needed to see. A tear falls from his eye as he reflects on the people he been around last week.  His family, wife, twin boys, friends, and coworkers could all be affected. He thought to himself about the mask mandate and admits he does not wear it properly especially when being around the same people. He barely maintains the recommended social distancing of six feet out in public. Thinking to himself how he thought he was invincible, but only followed safety guidelines just to protect the interest of the public. Despite the rise in daily new cases reported on the news, he did not know anyone personally who had the virus. Davis believes he is the first amongst the people he knows to be positive for COVID-19.

               NO! He says to himself. No one will know I have Covid! I feel fine…no symptoms…I’m asymptomatic. I will go back to work and go home like normal. This will all be over in a week. Davis flushes the toilet, walks out of the bathroom stall, puts his hardhat on, puts on a mask he had stuffed his pocket before entering the bathroom, and goes back to work. 

Davis has a successful workday completing every task given. Before going home, he stops by the local grocery store to buy his wife her favorite bottle of wine. In fact, he wanted to splurge so he bought a more expensive wine hoping it could cover any suspicion his wife may have about him. At home he helps his twin boys, David and Daniel, with homework, sets the table for dinner, eats, and talks about his day. He does not mention his positive test results for Covid or getting tested two days prior. That night he tucks the boys in bed and then sits downstairs with his wife drinking a glass of the expensive wine.

“Honey,” said Dayla. “This wine is wonderful! It’s not my usual. How did you find this one? I love it!”

Davis shrugs and takes a sip of wine, “A coworker told me about it.”

Dayla guzzles down the remaining amount of wine left in her glass. “I love it! Tell that coworker he has great taste.” She thinks. “What’s the special occasion? You only buy expensive things when something good has happened.”

“Honeydew! I wanted to be different, spontaneous. I thought about you all day at work and wanted to make you feel better. I love you so much. You just don’t know how crazy I am about you! All the guys at work get tired of me talking about you and our family. Even Antonio gets tired of me.” He begins to laugh.

Dayla’s heart is filled with love. She leans over and kisses him on the cheek. “You are a wonderful husband, now let’s go to bed.”

A little after 2:00 am, Davis wakes up to look at his wife. She is sound asleep. Her face is in total bliss while snuggled under the comforter. That was a close one! The nice gesture I did makes her unaware of what is going on inside my body. I better get my rest. The alarm will sound at 5:00 am. When I wake up, I will delete the email and go to work like normal.

               Davis’s phone alarm sounds at 5:00 am for him to get ready for work, but Davis wakes up to the worst headache he ever had. I forgot that red wine gives me a headache. As he gets out of bed, he begins to have feelings of his body burning from the inside. Mucus rushes from his nostrils and breathing begins to feel like a cheesecloth was placed in his throat overnight as he stands up. Am I having an asthma flare up? As he turns and walks towards the master bathroom, exhaustion begins to overtake. Each inhale radiates pain from his lungs as the exhale temporarily soothes it. Davis is experiencing the symptoms of COVID that he remembers reading from online articles when it first made headlines in the United States.

               What is wrong with me? Staggering to the bathroom, he looks back at the bed to see his wife still sleeping in a blissful state. Once inside, he lightly closes the door and begins to catch his breath. He stumbles to the medicine cabinet below the bathroom sink and grabs a thermometer. He stuffs it in his mouth waiting impatiently for a reading. 101.9!!!  The shower he takes, dressing in his operator’s uniform, and even walking down the stairs exhausted him. I must stay strong! I can make it…this will all be over in a few days.

               During his commute to work Davis stops at the 24-hour pharmacy near his home to buy ibuprofen because he once read it can lower a feverish body temperature. Sitting outside the pharmacy parking lot he takes two pills with a drink of bottled water. Halfway to work he feels his body temperature return to normal, but the exhaustion remains.

After parking his car in the farthest parking spot away from the work building, he painfully gets out of his car. He takes a long look at the crescent moon in the sky wondering if he should continue keeping his illness a secret. Although the early morning outside temperature is warm, Davis is having body chills as he stares at the moon and stars above. He slowly walks towards the employee’s main entrance. With each step energy is rapidly draining which causes him to breathe heavy. He pauses midway to catch his breath putting his hands on his hips for balance. When he gains a little strength and slightly normal breathing, he continues his walk towards the entrance. There, he is met by a security guard standing behind a glass barrier with a small hole in the middle. This is part of normal protocol before entering the worksite. She holds a non-contact infrared thermometer between his eyes through the opening. She squeezes and holds the trigger until it makes a beep sound then draws her arm back through the hole looking confused at his temperature reading from the mini screen. “This thang ain’t worth the money they spent on this.” She looks at him with a straight face. “It’s reading 99.9 which is too high for you to enter…hold on.” She begins to shake the thermometer a few times then slaps it with her other hand. “Put your head down, Davis, and let me try this again. I swear!” Davis lowers his head as she reaches her arm holding the thermometer out of the glass opening towards him. This time she places it on the left side of his forehead, squeezes and holds the trigger until she hears the beep sound. She draws her arm back towards her, reads the temperature, and smiles. “Ok, 99.1. It’s a little high but normal. I will let you go. I swear, this thang been reading everybody’s temp a little above 98.6 lately, but management said if it isn’t above 99.5, then it’s ok to let employees pass. You may enter. Have a great day, Davis.”

               Davis thanks the woman and walks through the doors still hiding the bodily pain he feels. The sound of the reactors makes his headache worse while the bright lights shining from the rafters hurt his eyes. Davis drags his feet across the floor. His steel-toe boots are feeling heavier than before. Sweat pours from his head wetting the top of his uniform as the muscle aches intensifies and breathing becomes heavier and even more painful.

               I need to call off, this is ridiculous. I cannot go on like this. I need to end this game I am playing and get help. He suddenly realizes his own plan. No! I cannot. My wife would kill me if she found out I tested positive. Then the secret’s out on how I may have contracted the virus. But this is the price I must pay.

               Each second at work feels like minutes to Davis as he tries to maintain a normal posture. Operators and managers have been coming in and out of the workshop he leads unaware of his illness. Only one operator, Antonio Thomas, knows about his positive COVID test. Antonio and Davis have been best friends since third grade. They call themselves “work bros.” He helps Davis by diverting any attention Davis receives to himself. Antonio even does double the workload. 

During lunch break, both join two other work bros at a table away from other employees in the breakroom. The round table is in the far corner wall beside a soda canteen. Each guy removes their mask and places it respectively in front of each other at arm’s reach.

               “Don’t feel bad man,” Lamar Keith, Davis’s best friend since tenth grade, who also was his best man in his wedding nine years ago, “we tested positive, too.”

               “Yes.”  said Antonio Thomas. “When I felt sick, I told only you three about it, and that’s it. Not my wife, momma, children, only you three because we were in it together.”

               Karl has a look of concern. “Yo Davis man! You good? Don’t even trip. We are going to get through this!”

               Davis looks up from the table appearing sicker than this morning. “I’m ok man. It’s just…I don’t understand.”  He takes a deep breath then lets out a faint exhale. “How am I…sick…but” he lets out a soft painful cough on a napkin, “but you aren’t?”

               Their conversation pauses as they hear high heels clapping against the floor. With each step walking towards them, the sound gets louder. Mrs. Trinity Walker, the company’s leading business accountant, walks past the men to the soda canteen. The “beep” sound echoes to the table as she presses its buttons to get a soda. She takes out her husband’s credit card and inserts it into the canteen card reader. She presses “No Receipt” on the screen, turns around with the soda in hand and waves at the guys.

               “Hey guys!” Trinity cheerfully says. “Hey Mrs. Trinity!” the guys simultaneously respond back.

               Trinity makes eye contact with Davis. They both smile. “It’s that guy!” she points at Davis in a two-gun draw pose. Davis points back, “I am that guy, Trendy Lady!”

               “Ok, have an enjoyable day! See you around!” She smiles, lightly touches Davis’ shoulder, and walks out of the breakroom. The echo of her high heels clapping against the floor with each step fades away.

               The guys turn back to the table and shrug their shoulders. “I guess we are asymptomatic.” Lamar says. “We have no mask on right now. Don’t want management all in our business. We can’t spread it to each other. The spread happened man, that’s all to it.”  He looks at his watch. “Break time over. Come on Davis, pull yourself together. Remember, no one knows about this. We could potentially lose our jobs for breaking safety protocol the Friday before last!”  They all laugh as Lamar pats Davis on the shoulder. Each man puts on their mask and heads back to the workshop.

               “Hey Antonio! When you get back, cut the CV Reactor up to forty. Make sure the temperature is higher than 200 degrees C. I’m depending on you, my dawg! I will be back there in a few…And, can you work on Mixer-20? I don’t have the strength to tighten the screws today. Thanks man!”

               “No problem! I’ve had your back since eight!”

               Davis’s energy decreases as he fights to keep a normal posture during the final four hours of work. Constantly looking at the clock, he begins to think about his family. My family has no symptoms, but why am I keeping this a secret? They need to quarantine…I know what I can do! When I get in the car, I’m going to tell my wife they need to quarantine because one of my operators will be out sick with COVID and could have spread it to us. Sounds like a plan!

               Indeed, it did sound like a plan; however, Davis’s brain fog caused him to forget to call on his way home.

As Davis parks his car in the driveway, he is met by his twin sons, David and Daniel, rushing out of the house to greet their dad. Hmmm…this is odd. They normally don’t meet me at the door. Why must everything go wrong? Nervously, he gets out of his car. “Sons!”  I guess I hug them. Sweat pours down his face and onto his already drenched operator uniform as his sons hug him with one to the left of him and the other to the right. His wife walks out the door adding on to his nervousness. Davis removes his mask as Dayla kisses him on the lips, “Baby! You are a sweaty mess!” It is hot outside during his encounter with the family. Thank you, Lord, for making today a hot day!

               “What can I say?! This is what money looks like!” He nervously laughs. The family walks through the front door with Davis going in last. He looks around at the neighbors’ homes. There is no activity going on at any of the houses. He looks at a few cars parked on the side of the road two houses down from where his family lives.

               “Come on, daddy!” His twin boys say from inside. “Coming!” Davis replies as he staggers walks into the house and shut the door behind him.

Davis began to feel better, but the symptoms remained. His breathing hurts more with each inhale and subsides after each exhale. To his surprise Dayla has not noticed any of his symptoms. That night Davis falls into a deep sleep. He gets up and repeats the process for the remainder of the work week. Davis has never been the self-examining type, but over the course of the following three days he pays close attention to his temperature and symptoms as well as taking the ibuprofen 30 minutes before getting his temperature check at work and 30 minutes before he arrives home.

On Friday, Davis’s health improves dramatically. He has no pain when breathing, the sweating decreased, and his strength improves gradually. He begins to feel normal, but what amazes him more is that no one noticed his symptoms. Yo! I’m really that guy! Thank you, Lord, for blessing me through this! I know it is a sin to lie, but no one asked so I did not tell. Keep me and my family safe during these challenging times. Next time I promise to be careful. No more gatherings without wearing a mask for me. And I might consider getting the vaccination.

               Davis walks into work on this beautiful Friday with a smile on his face and added confidence. He puts on his operator uniform as he looks at his reflection in the mirror. “I am Davis the Lead Operator! I am bigger than COVID!”  He does a little dance as he walks out of the men’s locker room.

               “Davis, my guy! I see you got that swag back!” Karl says.

               “Yes sir!” He replies. “No more symptoms! I’m that guy!” They laugh and fist pump each other.

               Davis walks to his production department and begins working on the broken mixer. It sucks Antonio cannot fix this thing. I asked him several times this week, and it never improved. Oh well, he’s my dawg!  The managers need to spend money on improving our equipment rather than fund golfing trips with clients. Suddenly, his phone vibrates and sounds. He picks it up to see a message notification from his wife. “What does she want?!” He clicks on the text notification which immediately opens his text app. Using his thumb to swipe upward through several text conversations headings, he presses on the heading that reads Honeydew with a picture of his smiling wife on the left side.


Davis. This morning the boys and I could not get out of bed. David soaked his bed with sweat, and Daniel has a temperature of 101.3.  I am having body aches and my stomach is in so much pain. I am taking us to the ER right now because I have a little energy. In the meantime, you need to warn your management that we may have come down with COVID. You will need to get tested and quarantined until we know our results. This pain is terrible. I am so sorry, and I love you dearly!

               As Davis closes his phone leaving the text message on read, his heart begins to pound and sink to his stomach. Terrible thoughts of losing his family from COVID complications flood his mind. He tries to imagine them overcoming the virus while blaming himself for being selfish. What have I done? What did I expose my family to? What about the kids, what about their friends in school, what about their friends, family members, what about my wife, what about her elderly family members? How many people did I expose? How many lives have I forever changed? He sits down on a bench near the lead operator’s office feeling deeply depressed and concerned about the drama he may have caused.