Letters from the Pandemic 5: Thank you, Victor

Thank you, Victor
by Sarah Freel


Dear Victor,

Title page of the first edition, Les Misérables (1862)

I think I had COVID-19 in March. I steamed with rosemary oil. I didn’t go to the hospital. If I had IT, I didn’t want to give IT to the health care workers. Workers? Sounds like a hive. Healing people. I couldn’t cheer for healing people at seven, and go breathe on them in Emergency at eight. If I didn’t have IT, I already had “something pretty awful” and didn’t want to risk catching IT too.

I got better. I quarantined. I went to the grocery store with my forest fire N95 mask. A third of the shelves were empty. No bread. Uh-oh.

I used my television as a second screen for the laptop my workplace provided. I stacked books for a standing desk. My bookshelves now look wrong — missing books like missing teeth.

My mother is in Montréal. She can no longer access the computer at her library, which is closed due to IT. She has twenty cell phone minutes a month. We write. She is an artist. She is writing and drawing on the last of the scrap paper in the house, and sewing it together to create a book. If I don’t hear from her, I will know that she has finished her book. I offered to send paper. She said that would be cheating on the rules of the art project.

Gaps in Sarah Freel’s bookcase

I pulled another tooth from the bookshelf: Les Misérables. A pandemic is enough time for a long, heavenly book. Thank you, Victor Hugo.

I watched World War II in HD Colour on Netflix. The best thing to do during a disaster is immerse yourself in bigger disasters, especially disasters that are over. I am not being bombed or beheaded. As my grandmother would say, better than a kick in the pants.

With you,

Sarah Freel


Sarah Freel

Sarah Freel’s day jobs have included a repertory cinema, a newspaper, an internet company, cruise ships, the Vancouver Aquarium, the David Suzuki Foundation, and Simon Fraser University. Her pieces of paper include a BA in music and publishing, and an MA in literature and philosophy. She writes, sings, and plays for her own joy. She is an art-loving epicurean decadent Buddhist, but is open to suggestions. She is especially fond of sleep and vanilla bean ice cream, but never mixes the two.


The Ormsby Review. More Books. More Reviews. More Often.

Publisher and Editor: Richard Mackie

The Ormsby Review is a journal service for in-depth coverage of B.C. books and authors. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Robin Fisher, Cole Harris, Wade Davis, Hugh Johnston, Patricia Roy, David Stouck, and Graeme Wynn. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Provincial Government Patron since September 2018: Creative BC

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