Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Covid-19 and the mind: a short play

Catalina Florescu
Hoboken, New Jersey, United States


Synchronized Mood by Oana Chivoiu, Assistant Professor at South Louisiana CC


LOLA, late 40’s

TORA, mid 40’s


Two apartments in NYC. Imagine the dialogue happening in two balconies or, for a more absurd take, the same apartment divided by French doors.


During the historic plague of 2020.

Notes on acting:

These women are neighbors. They are also good friends. When they smoke the joint, they are already in violation of the social distancing rules, but they do not do that intentionally. At this moment they share a joint reminiscent of pre-COVID-19 times.


LOLA: And then he said he needed more rubbing alcohol.

TORA: For what?

LOLA: He said we needed it.

TORA: And?

LOLA: And he left.

TORA: When?

LOLA: Today.

TORA: But you said on the phone he was missing.

LOLA: Yes, his . . . mind.

TORA: Everybody panics.

LOLA: I don’t.

TORA: Really?

LOLA: I have nuts, flour, red crushed pepper.

TORA: I bought rice.

LOLA: I wanted to call him.

TORA: Call then.

LOLA: He left his phone home.

TORA: Why does he need rubbing alcohol?

LOLA: He is making his own sanitizer.

TORA: He can buy sanitizer.

LOLA: He does not trust what’s in stores.

TORA: Wanna smoke a joint?

LOLA: Yes.

TORA: Cool.

LOLA: Where did you get it?

TORA: I found it in my purse.

LOLA: Santa Claus?

TORA: Sure.

LOLA: For real, you have a dealer?

TORA: I’m not with the Mexican cartel.

LOLA: You should.

TORA: Why?

LOLA: You have that gaze: everybody freezes when they look at you.

TORA: Years of boxing will do that to your face.

LOLA: See, that’s a bonus.

TORA: Being ugly?

LOLA: Tough, ready to punch someone.

TORA: No, thank you.

LOLA: Is this how I am supposed to feel?

TORA: What do you feel?

LOLA: Nothing.

TORA: Huh???

LOLA: I thought I’d be high in seconds.

TORA: Wait a little . . .

LOLA: How long?

TORA: It’s not timed.

LOLA: It is not?

TORA: Nope. Some don’t feel a thing.

LOLA: Maybe that’s because I’ve been monogamous.

TORA: For people who have not sinned it makes them join a monastery.

LOLA: Really?

TORA: Oh-la-la . . . I studied abroad, remember?

LOLA: How many lovers did you have?

TORA: Too many.

LOLA: Never mind. I need something to drink.

TORA: Listen, what if he never comes back.

LOLA: My husband?

TORA: Yes, that one.


TORA: Will you be happy?

LOLA: I’ve never thought of that.

TORA: Look, let’s say he is not coming back . . .

LOLA: Is he dead?

TORA: Maybe.

LOLA: How did he die?

TORA: A bus ran over him.

LOLA: Will I be able to identify his body?

TORA: No, he’s cut in pieces.

LOLA: Too gruesome.

TORA: It’s an exercise. Like gym.

LOLA: What???

TORA: Flex your mind until you reach its deepest grotesque levels.

LOLA: And . . . ?

TORA: And you realize there’s nothing to be afraid of anymore.

LOLA: But reality differs from imagination.

TORA: Does it really, though?

LOLA: Yes.

TORA: Look, he is not coming back. Cause of death is unknown. Maybe he left you.

LOLA: Does he have a lover?

TORA: Do you want him to have a lover?

LOLA: He is free.

TORA: He is not; he is married.


TORA: So, you said you’ve been monogamous.

LOLA: I have.

TORA: Look, he is not coming back from the store with rubbing alcohol.

LOLA: The store ran out of rubbing alcohol, so he went some place else.

TORA: Is he really that obsessed?

LOLA: What do you mean?

TORA: What does he want to sanitize exactly?

LOLA: He reads the news. It’s terrible out there.

TORA: Yes. But that is not going to solve anything.

LOLA: Whatever helps him to think clearly.

TORA: That’s the thing. He is not.

LOLA: What would you do?

TORA: About?

LOLA: This new virus. It’s declared pandemic.

TORA: I have to leave.

LOLA: But the streets have been closed.

TORA: Since?

LOLA: This minute.

TORA: Says who?

LOLA: The mayor.

TORA: I’m going out.

LOLA: You can’t.

TORA: Are they going to arrest me? What if I have an emergency?

LOLA: You stay put.

TORA: What if I cut my veins?

LOLA: Huh???

TORA: It’s the same exercise . . . you tap into the darkest corners of your mind.

LOLA: Seems effortless with you.

TORA: I play this game daily.

LOLA: You cut your veins because . . . ?

TORA: I want to die.

LOLA: That’s too dark.

TORA: Will the police let me stay indoors to bleed to death?

LOLA: Probably not.

TORA: If he comes back, will you be happy?

LOLA: Relieved.

TORA: But would you still want him?

LOLA: I lost my sexual drive.

TORA: Replace it.

LOLA: It’s not a library card.

TORA: Fine, fine . . . but answer my question.

LOLA: Which one?

TORA: If you would be happy to see him returning home.

LOLA: I’d tell him it was all for nothing.

TORA: Are you playing my game?

LOLA: I think so.

TORA: Ancora imparo.

LOLA: What does it mean?

TORA: “I’m still learning.” Michelangelo said it when he was in his ‘80s.

LOLA: I’m only in my 40’s.

TORA: Lots to learn.

LOLA: Unlearn.

TORA: Go on . . . you were saying something about the new virus . . .

LOLA: I’d take the bottle of rubbing alcohol off his hands and pour all of it on him.

TORA: Sanitize him?

LOLA: Something like that.

TORA: Maybe he is not coming back.

LOLA: What time is it?

TORA: I don’t know.

LOLA: Check your phone.

TORA: It’s out of battery.

LOLA: Oh, well, I’m hungry.

TORA: Me, too. A bit. Something light?

LOLA: Let’s have a fondue night.

TORA: Do you have cheese?

LOLA: Chocolate fondue.

TORA: Even better.


End of play



CATALINA FLORINA FLORESCU holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (Medical Humanities and Comparative Theater). She teaches at Pace in Downtown Manhattan. She is the curator for the New Plays Festival at Jersey City Theater Center whose second edition is titled “Return to Love.” She is working on several projects, one of which is under contract with Routledge, Female Playwrights Intersectionality in Contemporary Romanian Theater. More at www.catalinaflorescu.com/



Spring 2020  |   Sections  |  Covid-19

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