By Melissa R. Mendelson
Dayla tried to stifle a yawn as she walked down the stairs. She smiled at the aroma of coffee wafting out of the kitchen. The sound of a spatula scraping the frying pan indicated that her husband made eggs again, and hopefully this time, they were not Bull’s Eye. She detested the yolk, and she smiled at the sizzling. At least, there was bacon.
“You look tired,” her husband greeted her. “Still not sleeping well?”
Dayla eyed the cup of coffee waiting for her on the kitchen table. “I slept a little,” she replied and inhaled half the cup. “You know, I could make breakfast one of these mornings. It doesn’t have to be you.”
“Why? You getting tired of eggs?”
Dayla walked over to the stove. She snatched a piece of bacon out of a frying pan. She blew on her fingers and ate the bacon. She loved when it was crispy. “They’re done,” she said. “You’re going to burn them again.” She turned off the stove.
“The eggs are done too. Why don’t you sit down at the table and finish your coffee?”
“Maybe, we could do French toast tomorrow?”
“Maybe,” her husband said as he reached for four plates in a cabinet nearby.
Dayla noticed the folded-up newspaper on the counter. “Did you go outside,” she asked. “You know, we are not supposed to go outside.”
“Relax, and sit down. Please.” He watched Dayla sit at the table. “It’s the local paper, and it’s still delivered. It hasn’t gone electronic like all the other publications.” He dished out the eggs into the four plates and placed the frying pan into the sink, running cold water over it. “They are asking for donations, though.”
“You’re kidding?” Dayla finished her coffee. “Why not just switch over like the other ones?”
“Because they won’t survive.” Her husband placed three strips of bacon in each plate. He gave himself only one. “It’s just fifty dollars. I might donate to them.”
“You’re not working right now, and we have to watch our budget. Nobody is buying my costume jewelry, and money’s tight.”
“It’s fifty dollars, Dayla. It’s not a hundred, and the paper needs to stay alive.”
“Why? The news is horrible anyway.” Dayla raised her cup to her lips but then remembered it was empty. Her husband gently took the cup from her and refilled it with more coffee. “Thank you,” Dayla said.
“Morning.” Dayla’s son walked into the kitchen. Normally, he would look handsome anytime, but she glared at his dark blue uniform. “Mom?”
“Jason,” Dayla replied, trying not to stare at him. She watched him sit down at the table and eat his breakfast. She turned away and drank her coffee. “You and Dad need anything while I’m out?”
“Just to be safe,” Dayla muttered.
“Mom, I’m perfectly safe. Nothing to worry about.”
“Have you watched the news lately? The Hate Crimes are out of control.” Dayla watched her husband place the newspaper into a kitchen drawer. “Ignoring it won’t change anything,” she said to her husband.
“Do we have to talk about this every morning?” Her husband sat down beside her. “There are a lot of ignorant people out there.”
“Yeah, and they blame us for Covid. They blame us for the shutdown earlier this year, which destroyed a lot of businesses.”
“If the country didn’t shut down, a lot of people would have died,” Jason replied, and he drank a glass of orange juice. He never drank coffee. “No one realizes it, but the president saved a lot of lives by shutting the country down. And he may have to do it again with this second wave still hanging in there.”
“But what about the Hate Crimes? It’s turned up to the maximum against us.”
“Mom, people are always going to blame the Jews. For Covid. For the shutdown. Hell, even for the damn weather.”
“That’s why I don’t like you being a cop.”
“That’s enough!” Dayla flinched at her husband’s tone. “I would like to eat my breakfast without indigestion for once. Okay?”
“Okay,” Dayla whispered and tried to focus on eating, but she wasn’t overly hungry. She ate another piece of bacon.
“It’s not just with the Jews.” Jason caught the look on his father’s face. “It’s the country. It’s what happened with Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Jr.”
“That’s why I don’t like you being a cop,” Dayla repeated.
A honk was heard outside. Jason’s partner was here to pick him up. Dayla flinched. A Black police officer and a Jewish one. They both had targets on them, and she thought of the news story from last week. Someone walked up to a police squad car and opened fire. They were never caught, and those two men inside were killed. But her son loved being a cop. He always wanted to save people, but was this country worth saving?
“We need more toilet paper,” Dayla’s husband said. “And orange juice. I could go to the store and get them.”
“No!” Now, both Dayla and her husband jumped at Jason’s tone. “You heard the president. Anyone at your age or with any kind of medical condition cannot go outside. You shouldn’t even have gone out for the paper, Dad.”
“It was left on the porch.”
“Dad, did you wash your hands after touching it?” Jason watched his father look away. “My partner just lost his uncle to Covid. I can’t lose you or Mom. You both need to be safe. Please,” he begged them. “Let me pick up the paper next time.” He slid on a pair of black gloves. “They’re talking about a vaccine early next year. We just have to hang in until then. Okay?”
“Okay,” Dayla’s father said.
“Okay, Jason,” she said. “Can you buy more eggs? We’re going to have French toast tomorrow for breakfast.”
“Only if you eat your breakfast for once.” Jason kissed her on the cheek. “I will be safe. Trust me. They have my back.” He moved away from them. “Amy,” he greeted his sister. “I’ll see you all later.” The front door slammed shut behind him, and Dayla flinched at its sound.
Dayla watched her husband finish his breakfast. She poked her fork at the eggs. She looked up at her daughter, who avoided her glance. She watched Amy fix herself a cup of coffee. She was barely eighteen, and she did not like the idea of Amy drinking coffee so young.
“Good morning, Dad.” Amy sat down beside him and ate her breakfast. She caught her father’s glance, and he nodded in Dayla’s direction. “Morning. Mom,” but Amy did not look at her.
“Morning, Amy.” Dayla forced a forkful of eggs into her mouth. She glanced across the street. She hadn’t seen her neighbors in a long time. She missed her garden outside and talking with Mrs. Jane as she called her. She was a sweet old lady that loved her flowers as much as Dayla loved hers. Mrs. Jane died in March from Covid.
“Is it safe if I read the newspaper?” Dayla’s husband looked from her to Amy. “I could use a morning without you two arguing.”
“Fine,” Amy said, forcing a smile at Dayla.
“Fine,” Dayla repeated before drinking her coffee.
“You two need to bury the hatchet.” Dayla’s father moved away from the table and took the newspaper out of the drawer. “It’s done and over with.”
“But we’re still paying for it,” Amy muttered as she ate her breakfast. “Should’ve voted for him.”
“This country would be worse off, if he was elected,” Dayla said.
“Do I need to leave the room?” Dayla and Amy stared at him, and they both shook their heads. “You know, he made history. Becoming president.”
“This whole year 2020 is a historical nightmare,” Amy replied. She sat back in her seat and drank her coffee. “If there was no Covid, no country-wide shutdown, it would be a good thing, but it’s not. And you have no idea what’s it like being Jewish right now. A lot of people hate us, and I’m glad I’m not in school. I’m glad I’m doing remote learning instead.”
“If anyone is to blame for Covid, it’s China.” Dayla looked at her husband in surprise. “It’s their fault, whether we want to say it or not. It came from them, and everyone paid the price. But we needed the shutdown. A lot more people would be dead, if we didn’t do that, and we would have run out of personal protective equipment, which would’ve been a nightmare for hospitals.”
“Maybe, it would’ve been better, if Trump was elected.” Amy waited for Dayla to say something, but she didn’t. “This country did not want a Jewish president. It wasn’t ready for it.”
“But it was ready for Obama?”
“Dayla, please don’t start.” Her husband opened the newspaper in front of him. “Trump is a clown. Could you imagine the damage that he would have brought onto this country, if he was elected? I’m glad Sanders won. That’s it. End of conversation. Trump’s not president in this world, and we have to focus on surviving the pandemic. Don’t forget you have school tomorrow, Amy. No waking up late again.”
“Okay, Dad.” Amy carried her plate over to the sink. She returned and picked up her father’s plate, leaving Dayla’s right where it was.
“Amy?” Dayla’s husband gestured to Dayla’s plate.
“It’s okay,” Dayla said. “I’m not done yet.”
“You’re ridiculous,” Amy said. “You barely eat anymore or sleep. Is that your reward for voting for Sanders?”
“Better than Trump,” Dayla said.
“I’m done. I’ll do dishes later.” Amy left the kitchen.
“You know, she didn’t have a problem with Sanders until this Covid thing happened, and now she hates me because I voted for him. You voted for him, so why doesn’t she hate you?”
“I really don’t know.” Dayla’s husband sighed. “I’m glad we’re not living in Trump’s world.”
“Is this one any better?”
“People are panicking right now, Dayla. No one could have imagined this pandemic, and Sanders did his best with it. He still is, but people need someone to blame.”
“And because Sanders is Jewish, they blame us. Hence, the Hate Crimes.”
“When this pandemic is over, it will go back to normal.”
“Do you really believe that,” Dayla asked him.
“I do,” he replied.
Suddenly, a white van sped into the driveway across the street from them. Six people emerged, dressed in Hazmat suits. They stormed into the house, holding metallic objects, suitcases. The house had been vacant for two weeks. The neighbors relocated, quarantined. She glanced at her husband, noting the fear in his eyes.
“We should not go outside. Not even for the newspaper,” Dayla said.
“Agreed.” He touched her hand, and Dayla flinched. He noticed this. “I won’t go outside.”
“What if it’s too late,” Dayla whispered.
“Let’s pray that it isn’t.”
Dayla and her husband focused on the decontamination taking place across the street.
Bio: Melissa R. Mendelson is a Poet and Horror, Science-Fiction and Dystopian Short Story Author. Her stories have been published by Sirens Call Publications, Dark Helix Press, Altered Reality Magazine, Transmundane Press, Wild Ink Publishing and Owl Canyon Press. She also won second place in the Writer’sWeekly.com 24 hour Short Story Contest. She has written two books “Better Off Here” and “Stories Written Along Covid Walls“, both of which can be purchased at Amazon, or found on our Bookstore page.
She has previously published the short stories “That’s Not My Face”, “Unprotected” “The Dead Are Smiling.” “I Won’t Be Me Tomorrow” and “Ten Times Around” on The Yard: Crime Blog. She has also been interviewed by us, HERE.
You can find her at her website. HERE.