These past few years have been crazy to all of us, and they will continue to be for a long time. However, our lives can stay still forever and as we find ways to move along in this crazy climate, we also discover new grounds in which stories can bloom.
Although I can judge any author that chooses to forget covid all together for their story, there is value in tales that incorporate said aspect. I believe it is comforting, in a way, that we can still go on adventures even with a virus at large.
A few months ago I wrote a short story for a friend. My prompt was to write a contemporary story with a salsa dance scene, and I may have taken “contemporary” a bit too far, as I wrote it some months into the future because of a very specific thing (the owl house season 2 finale, don’t @ me).
Because of that I needed to integrate the pandemic into said story however, I didn’t want to go for the catastrophic, post-apocalyptic tone news tended to approach the subject with. Therefore I looked within myself and the world around me to really grasp how 2 years after the world stopped we are coping.
Maybe is the fact that where I live people rarely take things seriously (people made coronavirus conchas- the bread- and whatsapp stickers of the virus drinking corona -a beer brand) but, we have come to a point in which we treat health measures as another aspect of life, not that different to the weather. And yes, “post”-pandemic anxiety is a thing and we are never going to see things the same way as we did in 2019 but isn’t that perfect material for writing to explore?
My story is the typical friends-to-lovers story in which one of the leads (Mars) invites the other (Lune) to the graduation party (there’s no prom, is México) where xe plans to ask them to be their romantic partner.
There are casual mentions of certain security measures for example; their mask is described in conjunction with their outfit, and they are given hand-sanitizer plus someone checks their temperature before entering the venue, and Mars remarks on how xyr classmates have changed this past two years. However, the focus of the story isn’t “how terrible it is that we are now doing these things” instead is the fear of how Mars and Lune’s relationship may change as they go their separate ways in life: Mars is taking a gap year, while Lune is going to Canada.
In my short story I wanted to explore how the way we see long-distance (romantic) relationships might have changed with the pandemic. I am still several re-writes before I comfortably know I said something about it but I do know I have something to say:
I used to be one of those people that put physical interaction above on-line one, but as quarantine extended past the 40 days to be called so, I started to see the value in texting my friends and family just “how are you?”. I broke up with my ex-boyfriend through a phone call and whereas before I would have thought of it as not a real break up, now it holds as much value as a face-to-face conversation.
What is funny, is that even though I had never been in a long-distance romantic relationship pre-pandemic, I was in several platonic ones, and I was horrible at nurturing them (just ask my dad). In some weird way the pandemic helped me reconnect with people in said crumbling relationships as my perspective in virtual interaction changed.
And this is only one avenue for the romance genre to explore.
There is also the “quarantining together” trope that the podcast Roommates explore:
“It’s 2020 and the first college semester back during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two sophomores are thrown together in a dorm and forced to coexist. College is hard enough without quarantining and flirty tension.”
As well as an incredible amount of fanfiction. Read: Love in the Time of Covid: The Emerging Hybrid of Quarantine Fics and Coffee Shop AUs by Katharine E. McCain to learn more about this trope and the appeal of it.
To conclude, covid isn’t gone, if anything it has taken so many different shapes that I’m afraid to read the news but our lives are coming back to us slowly. I understand the need for escapism from this crazy world, but I also think that it is important that even within this crazy world we are able to create and strengthen relationships: romantic, platonic, etc.
And wouldn’t it be cool that fiction reflected more of that?
Ari Ochoa Petzo
is a Mexican-Venezuelan bi genderfluid writer. They like dancing to old music and history. In their free time you can find xem trying to coerce their friends to participate in another of their crazy projects.
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