In Florida in the summertime, we populate the windows of the sleeping. We cling to glass, climb up and out, searching for a view to the inside of homes. We blanket cars, cover toys and bikes left outside, grass, bushes, flowers. Even roller coasters and theme parks, shells, driftwood, ocean piers. We bring rot and disintegration, destruction. But we are slow in our action.
We are a cousin to fog which in winter and spring is created by warm air rising from the earth at night, at times when there is no cloud cover to swaddle it to the ground and hold it in. Or it springs to being when warm air from the Gulf moves over the cooling peninsula encouraging our cousin fog. Or sometimes these two fortuitous events occur together and a thick blanket is formed.
We are warm air meeting cool. We exist at the point of contradiction.
We knew the earliest Americans, the Spanish Conquistadors who killed them with disease, fugitive and free slaves, the Seminole Indians, the early Florida cowboys whose cows were affectionately blanketed by moist droplets as they lowed and grazed in pastures of spreading oak draped with Spanish moss. Our cousin fog knew the first orange crops and trains which carried their yield.
We cling to Ms. Myska’s window of day 122 of the worldwide pandemic of 2020. She has secreted herself away inside her apartment, her air conditioning humming. She is one miniscule human dot on a teaming landmass which was nonetheless larger when the earth contained more frozen water. Back then, it was a time when things were drier, when Florida was less humid. Now, Ms. Myska lives in a jungle with roller coasters down the street, tourists from Germany who come to see alligators in cages, families who watch killer whales breach chlorinated waters.
We observe the moods of Ms. Myska in her little glassed in box. We observe her when she has spoken to her father on the phone, her sister, her son. We observe how these different interactions affect her. We observe when she is happy, when she is sad, when she cannot sleep, or when she sleeps all day.
We observe when she must put on a face covering to do an errand in her yellow car she parks out front in the lot. We observe when she opens the screen on her tabletop and speaks with faces or turns on the screen on her wall and simply observes faces and people moving around some artificial set.
The world will come to naught. It will rot, disintegrate, be destroyed. On the news of the world on Ms. Myska’s screen, people are wheeled from their homes on stretchers. People are put on machines in hospitals where they fight for every breath, where they fight mentally with hallucinations, with demons. They lose all contact with the outside world. Those most sensitive to this may die of broken hearts more than flooded lungs. It is unknown the comparatively deleterious effects of either. The ones who survive come back as if from war.
We are reasonably sure of our own existence, of continued moisture in the air, in oceans and other bodies unless of course the earth is thrown off its course. If we disappear we will go in a flash. Our demise will not be recorded on a screen yet we expect no recognition, no fanfare. There will be no one left to report our loss. We have no feelings about this. Our contingency is simply a fact of our existence.
We watch Ms. Myska shop compulsively on her screen with money she does not have out of anxiety for a dying world. She operates in a world of delusion but she always has. People always have. We say this not without affection. How much less interesting the world would have been without humans, humans caught up in their own emotion.
We cling to her windows and watch her and wait to disappear with the burning sun only to appear again in the early hours of morning as if in response to the call to matins. We say our prayers for the wee child Ms. Myska though she is an old woman. We pray our piece for her continuance, for her protection from disease as long as the Fates will allow. We even pray she would experience some measure of happiness not through her screens, but maybe through something small and real. Her little white dog perhaps. Her gentle plants waiting patiently on her porch for a drink from her hand.
Grace is often small.