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Viral Logic, a Short Story by Susan Hodara

Updated: Mar 4, 2022

For the collection: 'Life in the time of #COVID'

Viral Logic - Short Literary Piece

I’m not going to get the virus. And if I do get it, I’m going to recover. I’m not going to die. Are you kidding me?

So why, then, when I wake up in the middle of the night with a stuffed nose, do I go into a small panic? I imagine trembling with chills, drowning my sheets with sweat, whatever the terrifying feeling is of not being able to breathe. What will I do? Where will I go? Will there be equipment to help me? Or will I actually close my eyes, surrender, and die?

I never get sick, I tell my family. But they remind me that I do, that I ended up in the hospital last year with epiglottitis, my throat on fire, my saliva accumulating in my mouth until I had to spit it into a tissue. A smart ENT doc admitted me to the hospital, where I was quickly hooked up to IV antibiotics and, I think, steroids, and two days later I headed home. But where did that come from – the minor sore throat that escalated in mere days? I was fine until I wasn’t.

I bring myself to easy tears when I think about dying and leaving my daughters behind. I know they will miss me terribly, but I cry because of how much I will miss them. I feel that loss even as I write this sentence.

I ask my husband, Paul, how much longer he thinks we’ll be living like this – isolated, masked, afraid. But then I remember, I’m not going to get sick. And Paul says he’s not either. Good for us. We aren’t going to die.


Susan Hodara is a journalist, memoirist and educator. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Communication Arts, Harvard Magazine and more. Her short memoirs have been published in a variety of anthologies and literary journals. Hodara is co-author with three other women of “Still Here Thinking of You: A Second Chance With Our Mothers” (Big Table Publishing, 2013), a collaborative memoir about their mothers. More at


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