“Hi, Maga! How are you?”

“Well, I’ve been sort of wobbling around. I can’t get inside and I can’t go outside.”


“The weather’s been good, so I don’t understand why we can’t go outside.”

“There are germs everywhere out there!”

“Oh, I guess you’re right.”

“Just trying to keep you safe. I’m doing the same thing here.”

“And where is that?”


“Oh, yes. You live in [Town].”

“That’s right!”

“Do you do similar work…” she trailed off. “What is it I want to say?”

I held my silence so she could sort herself out.

“Are you still there?” Maga said.

“Yes. I’m just waiting to see if you find the words.”

“Oh. I don’t know. I don’t have it, but I’ll try.”

In order to help her along, I asked about her dinner, which was on the table next to her. I asked about the paper, which was within reach. She found those words like puzzle pieces. I decided to press my luck.

“Did your mother ever talk about the 1918 flu?”

“I can’t keep track of it.”

“But you were born in 1921, so 1918 was just a few years before that, so she lived through it. She never mentioned it?”

“I wish I had some more news for you, but I really don’t.”

Neither of us had any news and only one of us had memories within grasp, so we settled on a brief, bright conversation commiserating about the lack of anything to do. 2,000 miles + a lifetime apart, and yet, there we were, just two ladies stuck inside.

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