Through the Looking Glass

Prompt: Gentle | Word Count: 300 words exactly | Genre: fiction

March 30, 2020

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

—Dylan Thomas

Four weeks into isolation, through a screen positioned next to the bed, he watched his mother fight. She was propped up on pillows, facing the computer. The matriarch’s dark loneliness absorbed her son’s voice as he read aloud the Dylan Thomas’ poem that had become their rallying cry these past dragging weeks. Mother’s battle with sickness had begun long before this virus crept into their realm of the world. Now, though, with her compromised immunity, the battle was a lonely one, and his daily reading with her connected her to family and the world.

He’d set up the computer near her bed three months ago when he’d been in town to bring her home after her final chemotherapy treatment. He wanted her to be able to check her email from bed. The doctor had said her lungs were clear and her recovery looked promising. Then just as she seemed to be returning to a new normality, the order to shelter in place had issued. They were trapped apart in their distant neighborhoods.

She’d been so disheartened that she all but gave up, loneliness overtaking her will to fight. Finding new ways to connect, while staying apart, was so important that he taught her to video chat. He was determined that she would triumph. Three times a day he read aloud to her. In this way, he gently coaxed her recovery forward day by day. In the morning, excerpts from the news. Midday, on his lunch hour he read her the next chapter in a novel. Then at night some poetry, always ending with the words of Dylan Thomas to fortify her resolve through the night.

So far, this virtual connection was working.

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