864,000 seconds

Teenager Billie McKessar shares her experience of contracting Covid-19 at the start of the Omicron wave.

864,000 seconds
Photo by Billie McKessar. Poetry photo by Micah Boswell.

Eight hundred and sixty four thousand seconds

Two years of anticipation and avoidance
The best years of our lives, cut in half
All it took was a tickle scaling my throat
Climbing up ready to burst and trap me.
The countdown began

The days passed in a century
Droning voices piercing the ears but not quite reaching the mind
Soft covers no longer offer comfort.
Nature within sight but cut off from reach
Fresh air turning sour
The taste of home baking’s lost its novelty

A pestering, never ending cough
The reminder of your prison
Tissues fall like clouds
A storm raining only on me  
Eternity locked away
Never knowing what could have been

Legs itching to walk, run, leap
Eyes glued to a screen
A portal into the outside world
Are they moving on without me?
How long has it been?
Sleepless nights and days of rest
Nothing to fill the bottomless void

Heat dwindling.
Imagination carved out by fact.
A hollow skull overflowing,
An endless space stuffed to the brim
Adolescence reminded of its transience
Knowing everything but nothing.

A fever crashes over you like a wave
Discomfort grows to frustration
At yourself.
At the world.

Routine regained, broken
Craving to learn
Wanting to be challenged
Gratitude clashes with exasperation
At least I'm not dying
I should be grateful
But I'm not.

The blame floats through the air with no one to latch onto
No one’s fault, no one to target
Irritability increases
Resentment draining my emotions with nowhere to escape
Begging myself not to listen to my own brain
Overthinking drowning positivity

Two lines of certainty
How long will it take?
When will it turn to one
Unsteady rhythm
Freedom dissipating
When will it end?

Billie McKessar is a Year 12 student from Auckland.

Adolescence reminded of its transience Knowing everything but nothing.
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