During the blockade of Wuhan, a poor single mother tells her daughter one story per day. The storytelling continues for 10 days. Most of these stories are embellished. The process of storytelling show different views of daughter and mother.

Day 1
Mother enters the room with a surgical mask, which is washed several times. Actually, the surgical mask is for single-use purposes only. But poor people can’t even afford the normal price of masks.

The daughter is still lying on the bed. The school shut down. Now she has no place to go but lie at home. It’s stupid to waste energy because all kinds of food are expensive in Wuhan, this blocked city now.

Daughter: Can’t you go to drive, mom?

Mother: Mom has to.

D: There is a virus outside, mom. I am worried about you.

M: Mom will take care . . . In case you feel bored, I would tell you a story every night before I go.

D: Sure. Please take care.

M: I heard this yesterday. This story is about Doctor Li, the whistleblower, the doctor who told us the coronavirus is coming.

D: I heard him before. He is a good doctor, right?

M: Sure. Li told his friends, his family, that there was coronavirus last year.

D: And the police caught him away!

M: Because the director of the hospital listened to some calumny. Then he believed Li was starting a rumor.

D: It’s not.

M: Unluckily, Doctor Li tested positive for coronavirus. He passed today. However, the director of the hospital felt regretful about it now. He canonizes Li as a hero today. Everyone will remember him, a whistleblower! Mom learnt this new word today.

D: Is that a happy ending?

M: After all, a hero is better than a rumor monger.

D: Yeah… Good night, Mom.

Day 2

D: How is work going, mom?

M: Uh . . . Everything is okay. By the way, I bought five new masks today. They come from Japan.

D: Japan? I think Japan is a bad country. Japan invaded China many years ago.

M: Of course they are!

D: But why are they still selling masks to China?

M: They . . . donated.

D: What?

M: They donated most of the masks. Now the virus is starting to spread in Japan. But they deserve it!

D: Are they bad? If they are bad, they deserve it.

M: Of course they are. They must have some . . . bad motives. You know, Japanese . . .To be fair, most of the Japanese hates China so much. They can’t think without hatred.

D: Sure!

Day 3

M: I have a story of a little hero today.

D: Hero? What kind?

M: It’s a little girl, just like you!

D: How can a little girl become a hero?

M: There is a big official who went to Wuhan yesterday. However, some bad policemen are standing in front of the resident’s home.

D: Why did those policemen do that?

M: Because they don’t want to make people to meet the big official! They were afraid that people will tell the truth!

D: Oh! That’s horrible!

M: When the official came, a little girl shouted: “Liar! Liar!” Then everyone started to shout!

D: So the big man heard that! “Liar! Liar!”

M: Shhhhhh! You mustn’t say THAT!

D: I am sorry, mom.

M: At the end, those bad policemen got caught . . . That’s the story of little hero.

D: I would like to be a little hero, too.

M: NO! You mustn’t be a hero!

D: Why?

M: I prefer my living girl to a dead hero!

Day 4

M: Found it, I found it.

D: What, mom?

M: The criminal! The resource of the virus!

D: You mean, the reason of the disaster?

M: Absolutely! It’s the American!

D: Ouch! How can it be American? I suppose America is far away from Wuhan.

M: God damn Americans! Some Americans went there several months ago. They must bring the virus to Wuhan!

D: Really?!

M: Hundred Percent.

D: Jesus!

M: But they are eating their own fruits now. The virus is spreading to America!

D: They deserve it, of course!

Day 5
M: I feel strange today. (*Cough) Please, don’t touch me. Keep away from me.

D: Mom…Are you…are you?
M: No, of course no. I am healthy, much healthier than before.
D: Please, please, please don’t go! I would rather not eat!
M: It’s okay. Our government built a hospital, a hospital with very good facilities.
D: No! You can’t go there! They say a lot of people died there. All patients there want to escape!
M: That’s…(*Cough) That’s fake news. I know a man, a single father who went to that hospital.
D: A single parent like you?
M: Yeah, yeah! The highlight of this story is that he married a nurse who works for that hospital!
D: Oh! Then his child has a mother now!
M: No, his child is dead. The child is a moron. He starved to death.
D: (*Shocked)
M: That’s why mom won’t go to the hospital. Actually, I am as strong as a bull, right? Good night, dear.

Day 6
D: Is outside safe? I heard something. (The voice of police car)
M: Nothing happened. But I heard something different yesterday. Nearby, there is an old fuck going to kill his granddaughter.
D: Did his granddaughter do anything wrong?
M: He just hates girls. People would like to kill their daughters. All they want is . . .
D: A son!
M: Absolutely. But he has a very clever granddaughter. She uses old cloth to make a surgical mask for her grandpa!
D: That’s amazing!
M: So that the old man feels happy with her. The little girl succeeded in saving her life.
D: I hope I could do that, too. See, we could sell them each one for 5.
M: Sounds good! But don’t do that when you are alone. You may hurt yourself.
D: I won’t.
M: Good night. (When she comes out, she closes all the windows, so that the voice of the police car can’t be heard clearly.)

Day 7
D: Why did you leave all the food in front of the door, mom?
M: Things are crazy. There is a go . . .man, a man, he was misdiagnosed.
D: Sounds good for him. At least he is healthy.
M: The hospital refused him. Then he. . . He licked all vegetables and fruits in the supermarket!
D: Why did he do that???
M: Revenge. That man went crazy.
D: Is our food still available now?
M: Both of us will be very fine because we cooked all our materials thoroughly to eat. There is no reason that good people like us will take bad fortune.
D: Yes.
(Mother leaves. Voice of painful but light cough appears.)

Day 8
D: Mom, you won’t go working today?
M: Some journalists came. The police blocked the street, now they are searching them.
D: What’s wrong with those journalists?
M: It’s hard to say. They are foreign journalists and they hate China very much.
D: What? You can’t do anything if what you hate is a country.
M: No. The journalists can. They can collect news which show the bad view of China. Then they could bring shame on us.
D: We have so many enemies. Why do foreigners hate us so much? Aren’t they human, too?
M: Who knows! Hoping the police . . . (*Cough twice) could catch them all as soon as possible!
D: Mom, you cough so often . . . You got sick . . . just sick, do you?
M: Sure . . . sure. It’s just sick.

D: Mom, the mask is ragged (because of too much washing). It’s unable to be used.
M: (anxious) It’s OK. (*Cough)We can get some new masks later.
D: Later? Tomorrow, next week, or next month?
M: Soon. A lot of masks are donated to red cross society. But some assholes make them unavailable to us.
D: Who?
M: Some workers of the red cross society steal these masks to sell. But luckily, someone found it before it’s too late.
D: Who?
M: Ah . . . The police, I guess! They arrested those buyers as soon as possible. Don’t worry. (*Cough, Repeat) Don’t worry!
D: Why buyers? They need to catch the workers!
M: That’s . . . Because of strong reason. See, if there are no buyers, there won’t be sellers. The buyers are criminals, in fact.
D: Is that . . .? (Mom was in a coma) Mom!

Day 10
(Mom is awake, lying on the bed, Daughter is standing in the right side of bed)
D: When will this disaster end, mom?
M: Soon. All of the media say that good time is going to come . . . (*Cough immediately)
D: Mom? Mom?
M: Yesterday . . . There is an old. He was infected. However, there are no more medical resource for new patients . . . He escaped.
D: He run—run away??
M: Yes. He didn’t want to infect his family. So he escaped. He ran through the highway to Hunan Prince. On the way, he saw . . . (*Cough )
D: Mom???
M: He saw . . . He saw a boar, running on the high way! Ha . . .
D: A boar?
M: Yes! A boar who was running out of Wuhan! (Closed her eyes) A boar! Even a boar!
D: Mom? Are you all right?!
M: Of course. Our great party is coming to save us. There will be no poverty, no cure . . . I can see it now. I can see it too . . . !
D: What are you speaking, mom?!
M: I can see the boar . . . The boar! (Strong voice) Run! Run! Run!

End

Unhappy Geng’s short script, “New Decameron,” won third prize in the Eighth Annual School of Visual Arts Writing Program Contest. Unhappy’s essay, “How Can There Be Such a Thing?” was published in the Fall 2019 issue of The Match Factory, under the name Adrian Gu. Unhappy is a freshman in the Computer Arts Department at SVA.