A week later, Peter was texting and calling Michelle over and over again, though she wouldn’t answer, until she received this text from him: I won’t stop ringing your phone until you answer and talk to me!
Finally, she, at home, answered: “What’s your problem?”
“Gee, I don’t know,” he replied. “Could it be that I have a girlfriend who hasn’t communicated with me in over a week? Could that be my problem?”
“Would you like to know what my problem is?” she asked.
“I don’t know: could it be believing in a fake disease?”
“Oh, a ‘fake’ disease that I saw kill my father with own eyes?” she said in tears.
“Your father?” Peter said. “I thought it was your mother who had it.”
“She got better, but she’s a carrier now, and she gave it to him. I watched his body explode all over the hospital room. His body parts hit me and the medical staff there!”
Peter tried to keep his chuckling inaudible, but she heard a bit of it.
“It was in the news, Peter! Didn’t you read about it, or see it on the TV? The Splits killed my father!!”
“I don’t follow the news anymore, Michelle. You should know by now that I don’t trust the media.”
“People have been reporting cases of this pandemic all over the world. It’s real, Peter! Millions have been infected, thousands have died.”
“I’m sorry, Michelle, but until I see it with my own two eyes, I’m simply not going to believe it.”
“And until you’re in one of those protective suits, I’m simply not gonna be anywhere near you.”
“Oh, come on, Michelle. I miss you. I miss your touch.”
Her jaw dropped. “You want sex?“
“No, not just that. I miss all of you. Your company, your smile, your closeness. I’m lonely.”
“Well, I…I miss you, too,” she said with a sigh.
“Then let’s get together. Come on!”
“Peter, if I see those white dots of light fly into your body and tear you apart, all because you’re too proud to wear a protective suit, I won’t be able to handle it. I’ve seen the Splits kill my dad, and it almost killed my mom. Dad wanted Mom’s touch, they took off their head coverings, and it killed him. I don’t want to see that happen to either of us. So, suit up, or stay away.”
Peter let out a sigh and asked, “How’s your mom?”
“She’s OK now, I guess. She’s back at work at the newspaper and governing Mississauga, with a special marking on her protective suit so people will know she’s a carrier.”
“Is she acting strangely, or anything?”
“She is, actually. She doesn’t show much emotion. She gives me these reassuring grins, telling me she’s fine, but the grins look fake. She didn’t look at all broken up about Dad’s death, and that makes absolutely no sense. She totally loved him.”
“No crying at all?” Peter asked.
“None,” Michelle said. “At his funeral, she frowned in what looked more like boredom than grief.”
“Really? That’s weird.”
“Yeah. What’s even weirder, though actually a good thing, is she says she wants to make some democratic changes to her administration of our district, and to be more objective in the reporting of the news here.”
“Whoa!” Peter’s jaw dropped now. “That’s even harder to believe than all these diseases. Still, I’ll be glad if it’s true.”
“Well, it isn’t going to be easy for her to make these changes, since all the other people on the Board of Directors for the magazine/government have a major say in the decision-making, and none of them will be easily persuaded by her.”
“Now, that sounds believable,” Peter said with a sneer. “Anyway, are we gonna get together or not?”
“Are you gonna wear a suit, or not?”
“Oh, come on!”
“No suit, no cuddles.”
“How can we cuddle in those confining things? With the plastic in front of our faces, we can’t kiss.”
“It’ll be difficult, but at least we’ll be together.”
“Look, I’ll think about it, OK? Just answer my calls.”‘
“I’ll answer them, but I won’t see you until you suit up. Got it?”
He moaned. “Got it. Bye.”
“Bye.” They hung up.