It’s 5 p.m. and you know what that means, baby.

The sun is shining, it’s a balmy 41 degrees outside, and it’s Quarantine. You know what time it is.

It’s time to take a little stroll. A little goddamn government-mandated stroll.

And I’m bringing Mom and Dad.

Tonight, see, I feel like being generous. All I have to offer right now is my time and my parents love to sap that up, so here I am, oozing seconds like syrup from a tree.

So, I’m scraping through my purse looking for my sunglasses, ready to head out into the slanted sunlight, strolling arm in bloated arm with Mom and Dad. We’ve been in quarantine for maybe two hours or maybe 8,430 days and my well-meaning liberal friends are dropping off cookies from a safe six feet away and I get to be grateful that I’m still pushing buttons for a multimillion-dollar IT company when I’d rather be slamming shots of watery Bud Light in a one-person Power Hour. Regardless, I don’t have any nails left to paint and there’s nothing on TV and I guess I’m walking a lot more than I did in the Before Life, so that’s something.

If you’re an optimist.

Mom’s had her two glasses of wine and I’ve had my four Coronas (haha, get it? I hate you) and I’m going to spend the entire walk stepping in front of them because if escaping COVID-19 is a case of speed, I will make it plain who’s most vulnerable here. Besides, I have big plans for this walk.  I’m going to accuse my dad of being a pre-diabetic and my mom of being a passive-aggressive alcoholic and wish an early death on everyone I know posting “a song a day” challenge on Facebook.

The stroll begins.

“Honey, slow down,” My mother says. “You don’t need to power walk.”

My gait slows to an appropriate crawl and I think about how I am stuck living at home at the age of twenty eight. Ah, if it only weren’t for coronavirus and my mental illness, I would be free as a bird, baby.

Free as a bird.

We promenade along. There’s no point in asking how each other’s days were – we spent the entire day together, just like yesterday, and the day before that and the day before that. And the days to come. My God, how many days are left?

I need a plan.

I know. I’ll burst free on our walk. I’ll lead my parents to the bike path, the gray one off 25 Mile, where no murders have ever happened and where no murders are going to happen, okay? We’ll walk by the creek and I’ll throw a pebble into the water, distract them with the ripples. Then I’ll race back home, throw my clothes and cat in a bag, and get into my dad’s idling car, gas tank marked three-quarters full. I’ll roll down all the windows, and freely suck the passing air into my lungs, snake along I-75 south through Ohio, through the mountains of Virginia, until the freeway ends on the west side of Florida. I’ll keep going until I hit water, leave behind my social media, people’s well wishes, their worries, instead party with the drag queens of Key West, take a nap with an iguana.

I’ll be free as a bird, baby. Free as a bird.

But even birds have nests.

Then my phone might ring.

And I’ll sigh.

But I’ll answer.

Mary Mattingly

@KILLMAREY

Photo by PULLA *

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