Fiction and reality collide

It’s almost been two years since we heard about that strange flu first discovered in China. Our lives have been upended ever since. We are slowly coming to terms that we will never return to life as we knew it before.

What I wasn’t ready for was it to be depicted in the fictional world. Recently I was confronted with this twice in one week. Not only was I not prepared for it, I was also overwhelmed by the emotions I experienced.

The first was in Episode 3 of Morning Show (or Morning Wars in Australia). For those who haven’t seen it it’s set in a fictional US morning television show. The episode starts with a journalist in Wuhan, China being told they need to escape the city before it goes into lock down. As they show the date, January 27, I think about where I was on that day – a beautiful resort in Langkawi, Malaysia. I start to recall what I was doing that day. As they show images of the crisis in Wuhan, my heart constricts. I remember R telling me the authorities are closing our school. I start to struggle to breathe. Tears come to my eyes and I am shaking. This is the first day of what was to become weeks and months of uncertainty. A time in my life I never want to revisit. Even the memory was enough to make me feel anxious.

Then I start reading Liane Moriarty’s Apples Never Fall. This time I was a little prepared for it as she refers to the bushfires in Australia in 2019.

Joy could remember people in late January talking about some kind of dreadful virus creeping across the world, but she was too distracted by her crumbling marriage to take much notice, she never caught colds…. Suddenly, everyone was “social distancing”, especially around Stan and Joy, who were supposedly “elderly” and “at risk”.

Liane Moriarty, Apples Never Fall

I often read to escape, to live in another world, but here was reality appearing in my escape world. I guess, just like reality, we are going to have to come to terms with our fictional world not quite being like it was before. As with reality, it might take me a while to accept this.

Have you read or watched a fictional account of this pandemic? How did you feel about it?

Apples Never Fall, Liane Moriarty, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2021, ISBN 9781250220257

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

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