Unintended Consequences

Flying Lady — Made Balbat

“I have got to tell you something,” said Teresa breathlessly.

She is often breathless, thought Jessica. It was usually a drama. She listened with only half an ear, scanning her FaceBook feed listlessly. Thank heavens they were not on FaceTime.

“You will not believe what happened. You know I finally got the first Pfizer shot about a month ago. Well, I just got the second, and something has been happening for the last three weeks or so. At first, I thought I was imagining things. Then I wasn’t so sure,” she rushed on.

At 70 years old, Teresa seemed endlessly girlish. She was tiny, petite she would have been called as a young woman, a bit of a Peter Pan even now, or whatever the female equivalent would be called. Jessica realized she might be a bit uncharitable. Teresa was a good friend and had been for thirty years, but her level of drama seemed tedious on occasion.

“Let me tell you what has been happening. You know that I had absolutely no reaction to the first shot. My arm wasn’t even sore. I was a bit nervous about this as I knew something was supposed to happen. That is, if you had an immune system, something was supposed to hurt.”

“That is not necessarily accurate, Teresa.”

“Well, anyway, nothing happened, and I was a bit worried. Then something did happen, but nothing that has been on the news. It started with me knowing what Clyde had for lunch. He went out with his buddies after he had promised not to eat at a restaurant and after he had told me he has sworn off pork. You know how bad that is for his heart problems. He came home, and I knew where he had been and what, exactly what, he had eaten. I knew he had had lunch at the truck stop with Bill. You know I can’t stand Bill, such a pompous windbag, and there he was eating pork with Bill! I didn’t say anything because I was so shocked. I knew  I knew this was accurate, but I, of course, couldn’t prove it. I wasn’t going to ask him. But I did call Masie, you know the waitress at the truck stop, and asked if she had seen Bill lately. She said, “Oh yes, as a matter of fact, he was in here with Clyde enjoying our Pork Chop special just the other day.” I was taken aback. She loves to gossip, and even though she doesn’t know Clyde isn’t supposed to eat pork, she still gave me a blow by blow of the menu.”

“Really?” Jessica muttered, turning more of her attention to Teresa’s comments and less to FaceBook.

“That was just the first thing that happened. Later that day, I went shopping at Sam’s, you know me, with a mask on even though I had the first shot. As I walked down the produce aisle, looking at the poor wilted organic lettuce, and I distinctly heard a woman’s voice state, “What an idiot, doesn’t she know the whole fucking pandemic is a hoax?” I looked up, and there was Marjorie. Marjorie is always so nice, so soft-spoken, and never swears. It was a shock, and for a moment, I thought I was simply imagining it but then I caught her look. She had thought that! She had this little moue on her face. When I looked up, she wiped it off in a hurry. Can you believe that?”

Jessica was not sure but murmured an “umm” as a way of encouraging Teresa’s story.

“Since then, Jessica, I can’t believe the times I have overheard other people’s thoughts, not just about me.”

Jessica was beginning to have a slight twinge of worry. Had Teresa overheard her?

Teresa continued. “It seems that I have to actually be face to face to hear what they are thinking, but shopping has gotten a little weird. I have been amazed at how much crummy stuff people think about one another, never mind all the married people having affairs—all these upstanding community members who are screwing someone else. I would never have guessed. Actually, I am trying to block it out. I have tried tin foil and hats, but so far, nothing is working. I am worried about what will happen with the second dose. You would think that the media would give us a head’s up about possible side effects, but I know there are enough people who believe that the vaccines are the work of the devil or will affect your DNA that the media doesn’t want to cause alarm.”

“But here is the weirdest thing that has happened. The other night I had a powerful dream. I don’t usually remember dreams, but this time I did. It was so real I could have spat. I dreamed that I was flying. It was very fun. All I had to do to change course was lean in the direction I wanted to go.”

“Wow! That sounds like fun.” Now Jessica was hooked. She had always wanted to fly.

“Yes, it was fun. It was so much fun that this morning I decided to try something. I drove out to the old cow path outside of Jacob’s farm, and I parked and then started walking really fast down the path. Before I knew it, I had taken off, and just like the dream, all I had to do to change course was lean in the direction. I think I scared the cows, though. And for a moment, I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to land. That is the trickiest part. I had to think really hard and put out my hands and flap. Isn’t it true that this is the trickiest part of landing a plane too?”

“Yes, I have heard it is.” Now Jessica wasn’t exactly sure that Teresa was not kidding her, pranking. “So have you told anyone else?”

“Oh, my heavens no! If I told Clyde, he would decide I was totally nuts. But even so, he keeps saying he doesn’t want Bill Gates microchipping him or changing his DNA. For the life of me, I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t want his DNA changed. Heaven knows it might be an improvement.”

Jessica paused and thought through very carefully what she was going to say next. “Teresa, you are not imagining this are you? Or kidding me?”

“No, of course not! You know me, I tend to be a bit practical.”

Jessica thought, well, yes, you are somewhat practical, prone to drama and a bit of gossip but not to my knowledge ever really in fantasy land. This was a bit disturbing.

“Yes, you are mostly practical, but it does seem kind of fantastic. Now, this is just after the first shot? What do you think will happen with the second shot?”

“I don’t know. I am worried about catching Covid, so I wanted the second shot, but I was a bit spooked about what would happen with the second shot. But it is kind of cool. I am not too keen on overhearing people’s thoughts, they are so negative, but I love flying. I admit I have been practicing. I am getting better at it.”

“Now, here is the one thing I have not told you. I hesitate to say anything, and I am not sure I really should say anything, but I can’t resist. The other day when I was out by Jacob’s farm, I saw Nancy. She was flying. She looked like she had not been practicing, she was a little bumpy, and she did not see me. In fact, I have decided I need to find a place to practice that is more isolated. I am not sure how I feel about anyone else seeing me.”

“Well, I can understand that. It might take a little explanation, but then I guess if they are flying too, maybe not.”

“Ok, gotta run. Let’s talk soon. Thanks for listening. I have to make dinner, and I want to keep things as normal as possible so that Clyde doesn’t suspect anything. I told you he won’t get the shot, and this would cinch it. I have not told him a thing, nor will I. Bye-bye, have a good evening.”

“Bye, you too.” Jessica ended the call. She sat at the kitchen table. The sun was beginning to set. It would be a cold night, but the day had been beautiful, sunny, and there might be the rare beautiful sunset. It was too early to tell.

Jessica lived alone with her cat. Her son lived in Ogden, and he called regularly, but her husband had died about three years ago. This was one of the times that she wished he was here to talk with. He was a good listener, didn’t talk much but listened well. She missed this. Right now, she had a lot to say. Had Teresa’s cheese slipped off the cracker? Or was what she was describing really happening? To be able to fly, now that did sound fun. At 73, she thought she had seen everything but maybe not. Mystery, even for the practical, was not a bad thing. Although, you never knew with Jessica. She could be dreaming or descending into some weird senile dementia due to the vaccine. At this point, it was unclear what was really happening.

Although a doctor in Florida had died, there were supposed to be no side effects. Wasn’t that what she had heard? She had not taken the vaccine yet, even though she was eligible. She knew she was a bit over-cautious in all things but was still choosing to wait.

Jessica glanced out the window. The sun was beginning to turn the sky a pretty but muted salmon color. The wind was disturbing the trees, not a strong wind but a subtle one. Out of the corner of her eye, Jessica noticed what reminded her of Mary Poppins just over the willow. Nancy was only slightly over tree level with an umbrella. She was bumpy. It looked as if she was struggling to maintain her course. The umbrella was open, and she was flying. She bobbed over tree level with a distracted look on her face, which was a bit hard to see. She was, after all, about fifty feet off the ground. Jessica felt a wave of concern. What if one of the neighbors sees her and mistakes her for a threat. Jack Hannity, just down the street, had quite a gun collection. Might he shoot her down? There was little she could do. Call the fire department? And say what, my neighbor is flying over the willow tree? No, that would not do.

Jessica watched, hoping for the best, hoping that Jack was preoccupied with Fox News. She watched Nancy, and Nancy did seem to be having fun if she was a little awkward with her flying. It was at this exact moment that Jessica thought, “Yes, I do think I will take the vaccine. If it keeps me from dying and I get to fly, so much the better. To hell with what the neighbors think. To hell with what Fox News says. I am 73, I get to make up my own mind. I think I would like to fly.”

6 thoughts on “Unintended Consequences”

  1. I absolutely loved this, and could really identify with Jessica, being the same age & still needing to get my covid vaccine appointment! What a fun read!

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