How Long?

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Oh no…He’s positive! I really don’t have time for this!” cries one of our daughters. “I’ll do a self-test and leave.”

Never before has the phrase, “He is positive,” had such a negative meaning.

Laurens, the innocent object of trouble, hides behind the screen. Another daughter breathes a deep sigh of relief: “Just work from home for the next few days; life couldn’t be better!

The potatoes are burning on the stove. The red cabbage boils dry. The food is eaten in somber silence. One daughter locks herself in her bedroom to keep her distance, and the other eats ahead in haste, ready to leave. Other than the curious questions of our ten-year-old, not much is said.

“What is a dilemma?

What does the liquid of a running nose consist of?

Daddy always patiently answers all sorts of random questions.

The clock on my chest is ticking steadily closer to seven. I get up, pack my things together, go upstairs, and shout cheerfully: “I have a webinar! I’ll leave everything else for now. See you later!” My housemates know that writing is my passion and my life. Agreements about what can and cannot be shared about our private lives were formulated years ago, conscious as they are about my almost transgressive wordplay and tough love for boundaries.

The dark red stair tiles feel almost soft on my feet. The second pair of stairs leads to the attic. I walk along the washing lines, where the smell of clean laundry mingles with the still-to-wash laundry in the basket.

The bedroom is cold. The walls are green. I close the hatch and shut the darkness out. The cold is banished! I put the heater on, and my diaries on my table have to make way for the reality of the here and now.

At 19.00 p.m., I open my laptop. Faces appear, new names pass by. I spend a few hours with people who love words and written text. I am attending a webinar about writing. How fun!

Below is the piece I wrote in response to the prompt we were given at the webinar.

I am invisible and able to turn the whole world upside down. It’s been a while since I first showed up. The consequences are incalculable. Schools, churches and catering are closed, face masks and environmental disasters, overcrowded hospitals and a ceaseless supply of coffins are daily in sight.

And all this with wave movements that make every person lose control.

I feel my power! I change color and shape and thus continually resurface in a different form.

In this way, I hold the world in its grip, unseen.

Just last Saturday: The mother of a boy in a tiny country in the Northern hemisphere sent another mother a message: “Our son wants to come play, but just to warn you, our daughter has tested positive. Is it still alright if he comes?” The other mother, overconfident, replied in her optimism: “No problem, just let him come.” 

She underestimated my strength, and I made myself at home with her son.

And now their world has turned upside down. Dad cannot travel as planned. Vienna is canceled. In this way, I can even exert my influence on their daughter, who lives 1100 kilometers eastwards.

Well then—Daughter 2 is relieved to work from home and embrace the changing circumstances immediately. But Daughter 3 is angry! She absolutely hates sitting at home. Lock-down and quarantine are words she doesn’t even want to know! Not only can she write them, she can spell them—and they come back in her dreams.

Strong-willed, she packs her things and leaves.

The body I now live in is young and fresh. It saw daylight for the first time around a decade ago and developed strong arms and legs in the meantime, but I have no problem weakening that power. He lies exhausted on the couch. His cheeks glow. His lips shine. His appetite is gone. The lust for sluggishness is absent and predominant.

I relish my invisible power.

How long?


Do you know that this week, we’re on days 82–89 of the 100-day-100 word project? I’m playing with a rule of life here.

This blog focuses on the letter S in Sensitivity. I enjoy writing because it makes my soul sing happy and sad songs.

What makes your soul sing?



P.s. Online retreats: The World Around My Table

The Next Online Retreat is: 
Thu, Feb 24: 19:00- 21.30 Continental European time (Amsterdam) Sign up for this retreat here.
Entering into the season of Lent. My Soul waits for the Lord
Lectio Divina: Psalm 130
Looking forward to another few hours together!
Kind regards, (Jelle and) Janneke

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