An eighty-degree day at last. We spent a few hours in the park because it’s almost possible to forget this pandemic while hiding in the grass beneath a tree. Almost. The virus tints every snippet of conversation from people passing by; these fragments from mouths hidden behind surgical masks and customized bandanas:

New Zealand beat it. Why can’t we?
Just stay over there.
Our fuckstick of a mayor.
They’re gonna have rules at the beach.
Oh wouldn’t it be a kick if our president got it?

We exchanged plague novels: she read Stephen King’s The Stand and I read Ling Ma’s Severance. Sitting on a scratchy blanket with our plastic bags, we envied the serious picnic game of other New Yorkers: their moisture-wicking blankets that fold into tote bags, the chairs that transform into backpacks, the collapsible containers and modular cups. Most of all, we admired how so many of us have agreed to cover our mouths and keep our distance.