An illustration of three letters with eyes

The Postman


In these times, every day feels the same. Except today, or rather this morning, when my sister claimed to have seen the postman lick his finger before reaching for our mail. Finally, she’s discovered something interesting, breaking the endless loop of hours she spends staring out the window. It turns out there might be something to talk about over lunch today.

“I can't believe he licked it.”

“There’s no assurance of how long the virus stays on a surface,” says my father in an attempt to reassure my mother, but even more so himself.

“It would be best to leave the letters in the mailbox for a few days. At least we’ll have something to look forward to.”

“He’s probably licked his finger every time when delivering our post, we just haven’t noticed. If I remember correctly, you too often lick your finger when flipping through mail, essentially kissing the postman through the surface of our letters during a pandemic.”

A post man likking his finger during covid



Since terminating our leases and moving in with our parents for the lockdown, my sister has spent most of her time leaning out the window above the empty street and smoking.

On the off chance that she sees a person, she’ll shout from upstairs and let us all know whether or not they are accompanied by a dog. My mother desperately tries to convince her that were she to get the virus, smoking reduces her chances of recovery. She responds by referencing studies that claim smokers are less likely to catch virus since they are more balanced and less neurotic than someone like my mother, who my sister encourages to light one.

Woman smoking and looking out the window

Besides bringing up my sister’s diminishing capacity for recovery, my mother’s other daily routine centres around trying to book a delivery time for groceries from the bigger supermarkets. She never manages to find a slot in less than a month’s time.

Her main hope for the whole endeavour is that if someone who’s booked a time suddenly dies, their family would be thoughtful enough to cancel the delivery as they no longer need flour and canned food anyway. This way other families with more urgent needs can move up the waiting list.

My dad has no established routines. From time to time he’ll inhale and exhale profusely, as he recalls that the virus is likely to affect the lungs. This usually coincides with him watching the news, mainly featuring respirator related statistics and death rates.

Sometime later

The dog never notices anything though. I envy him sometimes, especially as he is the only one of us who’s found freedom amidst all this. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, and thanks to the lockdown, he runs around the empty streets in the evenings, without a leash during our walks. Occasionally I think about putting the leash back on, just so things wouldn’t be better for him alone, and ensuring that he too feels the weight of the situation and is with us in this together. But then again, I enjoy the walks too much to do that since at least it gives me an opportunity to leave the house. To walk the empty streets like two survivors. In these moments I feel like the last of the human race, yet it’s hard to feel unique enough to matter. I’ve seen this scene too many times. Too many survivors walking in too many movies. Too many unleashed dogs.

An illustration of a dogs daily routine

But the end of the world as we picture it is indeed founded in the cliches we commit to. So in fact the most interesting thing about this ending is our postman licking his finger when sorting our mail.