• Jeanine Pfeiffer

Orange Alert


Image Courtesy of Jeanine Pfeiffer

I suppose it was inevitable, this descent into color-blocked madness.

In the Afterworld of a pandemic epitomized by six-word memoirs along the lines of, “hoarded toilet paper, should’ve stockpiled vodka,” I spilled boiling hot coffee down my front and leapt out of bed, cursing and yanking off my white tee while running to fetch bleach and aloe vera. This, after reading headline upon headline declaring an official death toll of 200,000, a figure we scientists recognized as a sorry figment of undercounting.

That morning I clicked “complete purchase” for a pair of screaming orange, Dali-esque, patent leather, zippered ankle boots. Foot adornments worthy of a Pedro Almodovar film on rewind and repeat; the hue of traffic cones and prisoner firefighter coveralls. Of color-coded digital maps recording extreme temperatures, conflagrations, and cases per capita.

These shoes emblazon textbook predictions once taught to students, now transmutated to lived realities denied by beloveds I choose not to unfriend on Facebook. Embedded in a shared, impotent isolation populated by words muffled behind masks, my eyes – evergreen and unprotected – smolder, sending out smoke signals. Ever restless, they dance above my shiny new boots marching the streets of Oakland. My gaze meets and greets fellow heartbroken souls: each recognizing the other’s unflinching interrogation of the Why, the How, the What we will yet become.