Terrible things can happen.
Since my post on Dec. 5, when I reported that the COVID-19 death count in our county had reached 722, the count has risen by 362 bringing the total to 1,084, in less than a month.
The COVID-19 death rate in our county has climbed to 103.76 per 100,000, and the case rate is, stunningly, 7,093.9 per 100,000. These are terrifying and tragic statistics.
The holidays have interrupted reporting, so these numbing stats are, inevitably, lower than actual.
As a culture and a species, we grasp for optimism through exceptionalism–It can’t happen to us. It can’t happen here. It can’t happen this year. It’s 2021; everything is different now. Biden was elected; good things will happen.
But the tragedy continues. The disinformation campaign, in the political and public health spheres, escalates with predictable, but nearly incomprehensible, results.
Exceptionalism doesn’t apply to viruses or disasters or political corruption. Or video games.
In my game, Ira caught on fire–again. I thought of quitting without saving, deleting the cursed compostable toilet, avoiding disaster for my exceptional family.
But I kept playing. It’s a legacy. We’ll deal with the consequences.
Around the time of this game play, Deira’s game experienced a similar disaster, which resulted in the death of Aria, everyone’s favorite Sim.
While I was playing, I realized that Ira might die. It would be terrible and hard, especially for Kiana, who, in story, at least, has already experienced so much loss.
But Case pulled through. He, once again, put out the fire.
Ira’s white jogging suit was a disaster, but she survived without a scorch.
“I’m getting rid of that toilet,” Case says. “We’ll put in regular plumbing. Find a way to draw from the city water line, and have an old-fashioned flush toilet. At least it won’t catch on fire every summer.”
“I still can’t believe you saved my life,” Ira says, “again! Remember the last fire? This one was worse.”
“It was worse because Kiki’s here now. Can you imagine? That little girl does not need another trauma in her life.”
“She was retraumatized for sure,” Ira says. “I still hear her cries in my imagination. Is she sleeping OK?”
“Yeah,” Case says. “She calmed right down, and she fell right to sleep. She sings while she falls asleep. It’s the most amazing thing.”
But it takes awhile to get the sewage and water lines dug and connected, and to fill out all the paperwork, and to save up money for the improvements, and before the summer is over, during another heat wave, the compost combusts, again.
Case is there in an instant. He’s had practice, by now.
But this time, Ira’s not wearing her jogging suit. She’s wearing a negligee made from synthetic fibers that sends out wild purple flames and the scent of burning plastic.
“No!” Kiki cries.
Her world crashes in on her. It’s dark and she’s alone and she’s hungry and she’s cold and there is no one.
Just because you’re little doesn’t mean you can’t love. And she loved from the moment she looked out at the world and into eyes she can’t remember now. And now, the dark eyes she can remember are swirling in flames.
And she spent a long, long time in a place with white walls and white suits and faces with smiles that didn’t smile and noises all the time and she has known three places and one was taken from her and one, sweet days, she left, and now this place, home, is ablaze and Ira is at the center of the fire.
But Ira doesn’t die. She is an exception, and Case is a hero, again, Kiki gets fed and cleaned up and played with and read to and tucked in. And life goes on.
“I hear you had another fire,” Aadhya says when she drops by one afternoon shortly after. “I mean, another-another one.”
“Yeah, but Case put it out,” Ira says. “Our hero.”
“It was nothing,” Case says. “Anybody would’ve done the same.”
“Being a hero is all fine and good,” Aadhya says, “but if you guys weren’t so careless, there’d be no need for heroics. I mean, dudes! You’re gonna retraumatize that little girl all over again. When are you going to grow up and get rid of the combustible toilet?”
“On Tuesday!” Case replies.