By Diane Van Hook
PROMPT—During Covid-19 ...
As I pass months at home, out of work, out of money, and almost out of hope, I watch the numbers of the dead ratchet up, day by day. Most of my worry comes from the default of trying to pay bills with more money than I have and what new nightmare will come with the dawn. But the required stay at home order brings with it, for me, a familiar pace of life. My current job started last September, a last ditch attempt after my second round of unemployment for 2019. The first was due to a car accident in December 2018, when my car was hit head-on, then struck a second time. My injuries were minor compared to some, but the most I’ve been injured in my life. I barely acquired a car before the shutdown of my state. I can’t get to work and unemployment is insufficient for my needs, especially with the stimulus. Logic can’t decimate my feelings of failure. I’ve been numb for a while. I have depression and this administration hasn’t helped. I’m introverted already. Isolation has long been my sanctuary. Unlike these basic truths, I still have others in the ether that I hadn’t confronted, left festering for the sake of cowardice. Like the necrotic body of US politics, corrupt on a level that if accurately described by Patterson or Updike, would get writing notes back from their editors that it was ‘too extra’ or ‘overkill.’ Or ‘okay, we get it, they’re EVIL, tone it down’ and reference ”X-Files” or “House of Cards.” We are stuck in a reality more fanciful than even the strangest truths. And thus I face the truth of the system: it isn’t broken, but built to work against everyone other than those that built it that way. A mouse trap baited machine that chews up and spits out those that are supposed to be helped by it. An education system not built to learn but to kill critical thinking and creativity. A medical care system determined to drown us in debt or face death. An income system that sucks the wealth of the working class to be hoarded by affluent elites while the world starves. Racism intrinsically woven into social safety net programs. Slavery never ended, it was just repackaged under different labels. Malevolence, one heaped atop another, no longer hidden as the world is made to stare. As a second generation Army veteran, raised a Black Vietnam vet, I listened to my father’s words, his own racial self hatred. Railing against the doors of Opportunity slammed in his face in spite of his knowledge and experience, all because the level of pigment in his skin. I remember shrugging off his diatribes as bitterness, an inability to let go of perceived slights. But he’d been able to see what I didn’t yet: how little everything has changed regarding civil rights. The prospect of the return to work (if I can find it) comes with the same risk as my first job out of high school: coming home in a body bag. And that might come from a virus that seems partial to killing people of color or a police force eager to do the same. Is this what I was fighting for? Is this what my parents fought for both veterans themselves? If so, what was the point? To see innocent people gunned down, abused, arrested, terrorized, disappeared, or murdered? I raised my hand and swore to defend against the enemies of the Constitution of the United States, both foreign and domestic. But the greatest threats of democracy have been here the whole time. We need to fix the problems in our own house right now. And that starts with draining the primordial cesspool of humanity’s collective sins and the rotting, shambling hordes of flesh puppets that have carved out more pieces of their souls than Voldemort protecting their bargain-bin version of him. Watch the knock-off Death Eaters try to say they were “just following orders'' or squawking about blackmail. The putrefaction of the greed golems known as Republicans guarding Agolf Twitler makes their true faces visible to the world.
And this is the year the world cried: No more. No more waiting for change. No more abuse and oppression. No more being treated as lesser. No more needless deaths. No more.
Diane Van Hook is a mixed race Black women who is a 2nd generation Army Veteran with an MFA in Creative & Professional Writing. She has published articles in literary journals and blog posts as a guest writer. Van Hook writes from Vernon, CT and can provide links upon request.