Day 898

I don’t know anyone who’s died from COVID-19, but several friends were debilitated by the virus, with some continuing to feel its effects. Recently, several more people I know have been infected, despite being up to date on their vaccinations and taking reasonable precautions. They weren’t careless; this insidious plague just caught up to them.

My fencing coach came down with the sickness over the weekend, and while her prognosis is optimistic (vaccination doesn’t guarantee immunity, but it has reduced severity among my friends who’ve recently been infected), but my planned return to the fencing club next month has been put on hold. I’m actually wondering now if I should ever return to the sport. As much as I enjoy fencing and hanging out with other fencers, those activities took place in a different time, one that’s been lost to us. That doesn’t mean the future is going to be awful; we just can’t assume we can pick up where we left off.

Perhaps it’s time to take up new activities. Or perhaps my enthusiasm for fencing will return once I know my coach, my friend, is fully recovered.


First Date


Until he arrived at the Korean street restaurant, he hadn’t understood his Tinder match’s choice for their first date.

She was no more Asian than him, and he was Dutch. Yes, he enjoyed authentic ethnic cuisine; no, he hadn’t heard of this restaurant; yes, he appreciated new experiences.

The restaurant was literally in the street, people walking behind close enough for him to detect their distinct smell. The abundant daylight meant they’d see each other clearly, and being in public meant less chance either would attempt something untoward.

He sat, admiring her decision and hoping the food was equally good.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

The Little Book of Tourists in Iceland

As I’m about to explain, I am seriously behind in my book reviews. After too many months, I’m finally ready to start catching up.

Back in March, my wife surprised me with a trip to Iceland. I’d told her over the holidays about wanting to see the northern lights and how Iceland was one of the world’s ideal viewing spots; with a milestone birthday approaching, she decided to treat me. Further proof, unneeded, that I married well.

Since neither of us knew much about the country other than the general direction, she purchased the Lonely Planet’s tour guide (very informative) and this shorter, less comprehensive, and thoroughly enjoyable book.

Alda Sigmundsdottir is an Icelandic journalist whose love for her country doesn’t blind her to its shortcomings. She acknowledges the economic need for Iceland’s tourism boom after the island nation’s economic collapse in the late 2000s (from 2010 to 2017, foreign visitors increased from less than five hundred thousand to over two million) but regrets its impact on her land’s people, culture and, most significantly, its environment.

I’ve heard her ambivalence voice before, from the people in the town where I grew up. Winters were harsh, springs wet and muddy, autumns ominous. “Summer People” drove in on Memorial Day and spent their money through Labor Day. Most were decent people, while others couldn’t resist blocking our driveways, mocking our accents, disturbing our wildlife, dumping their trash on our beautiful lawns and parks as if we enjoyed the mess they left.

And we put up with it, because if they didn’t inject our local economy with all their disposable income, we’d be cold and hungry for nine months.

I’ve seen the same dynamic during my frequent vacations in Hawaii. I try not to be one of those visitors that natives have to endure. Think I succeed, most times.

But the subject of this review is a book on Iceland. Sigmundsdottir is an engaging writer, and she reads her own audiobook well. It can’t stand alone as a travel guide, but is an ideal companion for something like Lonely Planet.

Discovered Memory

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The glass smelled of old dirt.

His daughter had brought a golden seashell from the beach. She was eight, he still married. “Can we keep it?” she asked. “It reminds me of the waves.” He found an unused glass at his family’s summer cottage. He set it on an exposed cross-beam in the living room, where it somehow remained undisturbed.

She added beach detritus every year – seashells, driftwood, coral, stones. Then she married, moved to her husband’s country. Her father now vacationed there alone.

He went to discard its contents, but stopped on detecting the smell of his daughter’s discovery.

After a few weeks away, it’s nice to return to Friday Fictioneers.