We sit at the breakfast table. I sip my coffee. She sips her tea. She smiles.

“How ya’ doin’?”

“Fine. How you doin’?”

“Swell.”

“Any reactions?”

“No, no, you?”

“Nope.” (long pause)

“Maybe they gave us a placebo.” (short pause)

“Can they do that?”

This woman has two kinds of arthritis. Both kinds come with a lot of pain, but she never complains. She is a card-carrying descendant of the ancient philosophical school of Stoicism.

Her portrait hangs in the Famous Stoic People Museum in Sweden. I don’t trust her.

I’ll wait to see if she cracks.

Life now is all about waiting. This has been our routine for two weeks, ever since she got her syringe full of Moderna a week after I did.

We wanted Pfizer, but they were serving Moderna at the Augusta City Center the day when we were lucky to get ours.

It was like going to a restaurant, where all they have are tuna fish sandwiches on the menu.

You hate tuna fish, but if you don’t eat, you’ll die. So you eat tuna fish. We accepted Moderna.

As we left the center, I spoke.

“They didn’t ask me about underlying conditions.”

She rolled her eyes. I hate when she does that.

“You don’t have any underlying conditions.”

“I have OCD.”

“OCD is not an underlying condition.”

At dinner two days later.

“Why are you staring at me?” She asks.

“I wasn’t staring.” (pause)

“You’re waiting for me to glow in the dark, right?”

“Of course not, why would I wait for that?”

“Because I woke up last night, and you were at the foot of the bed staring.”

“I like to look at you when you’re sleeping; you’re beautiful when you sleep.”

“Go to sleep.”

A long pause.

“Do you think they gave us a placebo? They do that, you know.”

I can’t see her eyes in the dark, but I know she’s rolling them. I hate when she does that.

So that night passed into day and then into the next night, and so on. It’s a waiting game now.

It’s been three weeks and three days since we both have had our date with Moderna, and none of the scary stuff that we expected has occurred. A little chill, some middle of the night aches. Nothing scary.

Easter morning arrived. We were eating pancakes.

“They say the second one is worse.”

She rolled her eyes.

“Who says that?”

“A guy on television.”

“What guy?”

“A guy who knows about this stuff.”

“Pass the butter.”

Stoic.

The phone rang.

“I’ll bet it’s Erica, the vaccine lady. I’ll bet you’ve got a date for the number two.”

It was the older daughter calling from L.A. She was very excited. She’s booked for her first one.

The next night, the younger called. She had her date.

So by May, we will be a fully vaccinated family.

She’s trying to take a nap now.

“I’m considering investing our stimulus money in a bed and breakfast in Pittsfield. What do you think?”

I hate it when she rolls her eyes. Stoics have no sense of humor.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 


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