a pinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)
Before diving into this episode, see what K & Z were up to in the previous episode of The Days of Our Pandemic or follow K & Z from the beginning.…
K stepped solemnly into the bathroom. In her hands she held a small cardboard box no larger than a shoebox. “Here it is, Z.”
“Here it is, K! This is it! Our hope! Our dreams of getting out of these four walls are finally coming to fruition! Here! In this moment! And you cannot unhinge us with your reckless ineptitude.”
“You think I’m unhinged, Z?”
Z glanced into K’s eyes without adjusting the position of her head from its centered view of the shipment. “Yes, K.”
“You do?” K asked, sorrow creeping into her voice for the first time in a long time.
“Yes, K,” Z said.
Z fixated on the box.
“What does unhinged mean?”
At this, Reader, Z saw an opportunity. And, Reader, she took that opportunity.
“Unhinged? Unhinged describes someone with an unusually strong sense of commitment to do what’s right, to endure through momentary pain, to inflict a bit of a poke, for the good of one’s self and others.”
K’s chin rose higher with each word. Higher and higher until she stared at the ceiling.
“And you think I’m unhinged, Z?”
“Most definitely, K.”
K stood as erect as Z. Her face determined. “Let’s open this shipment, Z.”
“Let’s,” said Z.
K grabbed at the packaging tape with her bare hands. She ripped it off like a bandaid. She opened the cardboard flaps and unveiled a white, foam box like an ice block.
“It’s inside there,” directed Z.
K gave her a nod and proceeded to open the remaining packaging and all its sealants until all that was left was a single vial.
“Now,” said Z, “the magnetized syringe.”
“That’s the moving thing, Z?” said K as she watched two components wiggle and slide across the counter toward the vial she held.
“Yes,” said Z.
“Yes!” said Z. “This is the moment, K. This is the time. Take it in your hand like this.” Z held a lip gloss tube to demonstrate for K.
Entranced, K followed Z’s instruction.
“That’s it. That’s it.”
K held the syringe. The syringe held the vial.
“Hold it up to the bruise on your arm.”
K’s trance broke. “Which bruise, Z? Look how many I have.” K pointed with the needled and began counting with pride. “One, two, three, four, five, six…”
“Number five! Number five!”
“Number five. Number five.”
“Num-ber five. Num-ber five.”
“…seventy-seven! Seventy-seven bruises, Z. Which one.”
“Well, why didn’t you say so way back at the beginning of counting?” said K.
Z opened her heavy eyelids and stared at K until her eyes glossed over. No words made their way out of her mouth.
K lifted the vial of mRNA and its needle of delivery up to her shoulder.
The movement of the needle roused Z.
Z said, “Now all you must do is jab it in on the count of three, and the mRNA will do the rest.”
“The messenger will do the rest?” asked K.
“Pardon?” Z forgot for a moment that she’d informed K of the true name of mRNA, the full name, the extended form name which, of course, began with messenger. “Oh, yes.”
“On the count of three.”
“Can we do five?” asked K.
“You want to count to five?” asked Z.
“Right-o, Z,” said K. “It is bruise number five.”
“Go ahead, K,” said Z.
K, misunderstanding Z as usual, thought Z wanted her to go ahead with it. She said, “No numbers or counting then, Z. Right-o.” And she thrust the needle into her arm.
Z watched and a grin spread like a virus across her face. “You’ve done it! I’ve done it! We’ve done it!”
“We did it! We did it!” K skipped one, two, three, four, five times before the desire to skip drained a bit. Her skips became slower, heavier. She walked, step by step, in her own bathroom, and she noticed she held a vial in her hand. It looked unfamiliar to her. A vial with a needle attached. How did it get there?
“Well, that’s dangerous,” she said and set the materials down on the counter.
As she did, she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror. She turned her head to the left and examined her right side.
“Looks good,” she said.
She turned her head to the right and examined her left side.
“Looks good,” she said.
She tipped her lips up to one side, gave herself a nod, and said, “You, KZ Rochelle, are about to have a very good day.”
And with that, she turned, she exited the bathroom, and she called to her sons, “Xander, Xaivier, grab your things. We’re leaving. Let’s go visit your cousins.”
Inside the lavender home with blue violet trim on Wonky Way Lane, a family fluttered with unusual activity. Previously, these people had been confined to their home for over a year of their lives. They shared experiences they’d never hoped to, like running out of paperclips and baking loaf after loaf of banana bread and learning morse code and turning the bathroom into a water park and then…
They went outside the walls of the lavender home with blue violet trim. Xander picked a goldenrod wildflower. He smelled it. He wiped the pollen and stem residue on Xaiver.
And they went on, Reader, to interact with their cousins and others. They hugged. They played soccer, shot basketballs, attended school and church. They noticed the green of the leaves. They smelled the jasmine. They engaged their senses in the world outside.
Thus it was that sanity returned.