Rosa the nurse, who had resided in Franny’s apartment before nearly losing her battle with the virus, has become part of their lives. As summer comes closer, Rosa steers her post-shift walks through what she’s come to think of as the “Pine Street commune.”
Given the life of a nurse, “post-shift” means anything from the wee hours of the morning to the heat of the lengthening afternoons. Rosa anticipates seeing one or more of her new friends no matter what time she walks: David strolling Penny in the early morning air to stop her crying; Franny and Leo walking off their evening meals; Allison sitting on her porch, eating lunch on a break from whatever renovation project she’s in the midst of; or Kassandra at her studio, sparks flying from her welder. Or Douglas and Louise on their way to the coffee shop in the midmorning.
She wants to believe she is one of them, this group of such intimate and powerful connection. She knows they would say so. They greet her cheerfully, warmly, ask about her work, her health; invite her to join whatever they are up to. Sometimes she does, and never regrets it. Sometimes she gracefully declines, and basks in the luxury of turning down invitations.
Deep inside, however, the knot of fear never stops reminding her of the truth: if they knew, if they really knew, the invitations would stop, the warmth would turn cold, the intimacy would close itself off from her immediately.
They would all remain polite, of course, but her time as one of them, even superficially, would end.
That’s what the fear tells her. And isn’t that what fear always whispers to us, in its dark and sibilant voice, a voice somehow seductive and aggressive at the same time?
You will not be accepted, you will not belong, you will be rejected and alone and this time, you will not survive. Do not risk it. Stay hidden.
The story of our fears is the story that we will, somehow, be responsible for our own obliteration, simply by being our true self.
Rosa’s fear-story exerts a powerful hold on her. This summer, which is a summer of new growth for everyone, will offer a chance for her to break that hold, if she is brave enough to take it.
For now, the voice of fear steers her feet away from Pine Street, to a few hours of fitful sleep before her next shift.