I was in the shower listening to the newest episode of Alright Mary, a RuPaul Drag Race recap show that was going over the premiere episode of Drag Race UK, Series 3. (Go with me here). They were talking about Choriza May, a queen who was talking about her experience in quarantine. One of the hosts — it might have been Johnny — was talking about how we have quarantine content, and that it will always be in the shows and media that did masks and talked about it.
I know that’s a strange piece of inspiration, but then my mind literally drifted to — how would Port Charles have handled quarantine? We saw some evidence of it in in 2006, but GH wisely did not tackle Covid-19, and once my mind had drifted, it kept going.
This is set in April 2020 but it’s kind of out of GH time and space because I really wanted to focus on Elizabeth and not the rat in her life at the time. So Elizabeth is single, Jason and Sam are not together — she’s with Drew and not having any of the legal issues she was having at the time. Other than that, there isn’t much else needed.
Something med school did not cover
Someone’s daughter, someone’s mother
Holds your hand through plastic now
“Doc, I think she’s crashing out”
And some things you just can’t speak about
Only 20 minutes to sleep
But you dream of some epiphany
Just one single glimpse of relief
To make some sense of what you’ve seen
The house was dark and quiet when she pulled in the driveway, and for a long moment, Elizabeth Webber sat in the driver’s seat, staring up at windows. They were all pulled shut and locked—they’d never been opened even after spring had broken over upstate New York. In fact, she couldn’t even remember if she’d turned off the central heating yet.
Finally, she switched off the ignition and shoved the door open. She was still on autopilot, still moving forward, functioning even though her brain seemed to have turned off. Her body felt strangely small and unclothed, shed of the heavy hospital gowns, masks, and shields that had been her uniform for nearly a month.
The world had felt normal only weeks ago, chugging along at a normal pace. She’d gone to work, taken care of her boys, passed her son off his to his father for his weekends, and enjoyed life with her friends.
Elizabeth stopped in front of the door, staring at the key in her hand, almost forgetting how to use it. When had she last been home?
Finally, she was at the door. She dropped her bag by the coat rack and tugged the mask off her face, wincing at the straps that dug into her ears. She hadn’t found the time to buy comfortable masks, and they were so limited at the hospital that she’d grabbed some pediatric ones.
Hospital staff was expected to be completely masked up from the time they went off duty until they reached home.
Not that this felt like home right now.
Elizabeth looked around blearily at the cold fireplace, the clean floors, and the tables. She missed her boys. She missed the sound of them, the sight of them, the evidence of their lives. Books and toys and clothes—
A sob crawled up her throat, but she forced it down. She had one more thing she needed to do before she could crawl into bed for the next twelve hours.
Elizabeth sat on the sofa and reached for the tablet charging on the table. She cradled it in her hands, then clicked contacts.
A moment later, FaceTime connected, and her youngest’s son face appeared on the screen, his smile bright. “Mommy! Mommy!”
“Hey, baby.” Elizabeth smiled in return. “Where are your brothers?”
“Right here.” Ten-year-old Aiden shifted so that he could reveal he had a brother on either side of him—thirteen-year-old Jake and sixteen-year-old Cameron. “We waited for you.”
“Sorry,” she said. “I got stuck at work a little longer.” The world felt lighter and heavier all at the same time. There were her precious babies, the family she’d sent away to keep safe as she worked to save others. They were okay. They were healthy, and they had each other.
“Work okay?” Cam asked, reaching to hold the tablet steady. “You looked tired, Mom.”
“I am, but it’s okay. I get to sleep for a few hours.” And maybe she’d eat. She remembered Patrick shoving a muffin in her face at some point that day. Had that been today? “How’s school?”
Jake grimaced. “I hate Zoom,” he muttered. “Half the kids don’t turn on the camera, and my teachers spend most of the time telling them to do it, and then before you know it, we’re done. Plus, they didn’t even show us how to do these stupid equations—”
“Your teachers are trying—”
“I know, Mom. They hate Zoom, too—”
“Miss Tait said that I got a star,” Aiden said, poking his head in. “She showed me! She made a star chart in her house, and we’re all on there! It’s like school only not because we don’t get recess which is stupid—but—”
“They’re still making us take our AP exams,” Cameron said bitterly. “We need to get this stupid software and set up on our computers—”
“I missed my ELA Zoom,” Jake interrupted. “I didn’t mean to, but the teacher was late, so I thought I didn’t have it, so I left, but then she emailed me. She’s really mad, Mom.”
Elizabeth’s head swam as she processed all of that, tried to think of something to say. To remind Jake to have more patience with teachers who were trying so very hard, and for Cameron to have some grace with the world even though it sounded insane testing was still happening—
“Hey—” another voice came from behind them. “One at a time. Your mom’s tired.” Jason Morgan, Jake’s father, came into view over the sofa. “I talked to Jake’s ELA teacher; it’s fine. She had internet issues and was three minutes late.”
Jake rolled his eyes. “In college—”
“You’re in eighth grade, not college,” Jason said simply. “And now you’ll remember to wait longer next time.”
“I know,” Jake muttered.
“It’s fifteen minutes in college,” Elizabeth said, but now she was smiling. Because, of course, her son had overreacted. He had her flair for the dramatic. “You should keep that in mind.”
“It’s fine about the test,” Cameron said. “Jason said he’d have Spinelli remote into the computer and make sure it was set up. The directions were confusing, but Spinelli loves that crap.”
“Oh, well, thank him for me.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I know how much Zoom classes suck. No one likes them. And I’ll make sure I thank Miss Tait for the stars the next time I see her, Aiden.”
“Jason did that!” Aiden told her. “But she likes you better.”
“That’s because she’s dating a cop, and Dad works at the warehouse,” Jake told Aiden.
“What does that mean?” Aiden wanted to know.
“Nothing,” Jason cut off his son with a look. The blond teen just snickered. “Hey, go upstairs and play some video games. I need to talk to your mom. I’ll call you when we’re done.”
“He’s gonna tell her that he caught you Zooming with Emma,” Jake told Cameron, who scowled. Jake jumped up and dashed for the stairs, the oldest chasing him. Aiden, who never wanted to miss any action, followed.
Jason sat on the sofa, the tablet in his hands. “Sorry about that—”
“No, no—” Elizabeth rubbed the side of her cheek. “I’m sorry. I should have—I should have taken a hotel room or something—the three of them are a lot to have around the penthouse—”
“It’s okay. They keep it from being too quiet,” Jason told her. “I stopped by your place today and put more groceries in the fridge. And I turned off the central.”
“You didn’t have to—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Thank you for taking them. Laura’s putting out so many fires—all these stupid protests over the shutdown, and your mom hasn’t left the hospital. I tried to get her to come home with me, but she’s still trying to track down more respirators and protective equipment—” She closed her eyes, her mind drifting as she lost track of what she was saying.
“You need to get some sleep—”
“I do, but I don’t—” She looked at him. “You and the boys are the first people I haven’t seen that don’t work at the hospital or aren’t dying in days.”
He was quiet for a moment. “It’s bad, isn’t it? I’m keeping Jake and Aiden from the news, but Cameron knows.”
“Um, we lost four more today in my ward.” She stopped. “Do you remember Father Coates?”
“Yeah—” His face creased. “Oh.”
“Yeah. He couldn’t even—” Her eyes were so heavy. “We couldn’t even let in anyone for last rites, so I found the Bible, and I did it for him. I don’t know if I did it right. Do you think it’ll work?”
“I do,” he promised her. “God wouldn’t—”
“I’m not sure I believe in God anymore.” The tears came then, the hot rushing release that streamed down her cheeks. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I just had a bad day—” She put the tablet on the table and put her head in her hands.
“I’m fine. I should have—I should have gone home with Patrick and Robin, but they haven’t had a minute to be alone in weeks—they’ve been working in different wards and opposite shifts—” She picked the tablet back up and looked at him.
“I hate that you’re doing this alone.”
“There was no other choice. I couldn’t do my job and stay with the boys. I might have brought it to them. I know kids aren’t getting sick right now, but that’s because we shut down the schools. They’re not in the world, and God, you don’t see what this does to people—there are no visitors.” She closed her eyes. “Do you remember the quarantine before Jake was born?”
“It was different. I don’t know why it felt different.”
“Because it was just us, and it was done to us. We could work for a cure, for a vaccine ourselves. And maybe Cameron was too young then to know what was going on.” He paused. “I get it. Because I could help then. I went out, and I found the damn vaccine. I can’t do anything but stay here and keep the boys in school and not murdering each other. It doesn’t feel like enough.”
“It’s everything to me. When this is over—and I have to believe the day will come when it is—I know that my boys are safe. It’s everything,” she repeated. “Are you sure they’re not in the way?”
“No. No,” he repeated. “Believe it or not, everything is shut down. I don’t know how long any of that will last, but hopefully, until this is over.” Jason hesitated. “Have they come out with any new guidelines about transmission? I mean—are they sure that you can’t just really shower and disinfect at the hospital, then come home—”
“They’re doing studies, but we don’t know anything. We don’t know how to treat it—we don’t know why some people get it and show no symptoms—” Elizabeth rubbed her eyes again. “I’m sorry,” she repeated. “Robin’s working on that her end, but we just don’t know enough yet.”
“When do you go into work tomorrow?” he asked. “I can bring the boys by. We’ll just be in the driveway. They need to see you.”
“Around nine. That would—” Elizabeth forced herself to smile. “That would be great. Don’t they have meetings—”
“I’ll email their teachers. They’ll understand. Miss Tait asked about you. Wanted you to know Aiden is doing great. Cameron’s English teacher said his essay he wrote last week was his best all year, and Jake—well, he hates everything about this, but we’re dealing with it.”
“I hate everything about this, too,” she muttered.
“He has your resilience,” Jason told her. “He hates it right now, but he’ll get through it.”
“Resilience, huh?” She laughed. “You used to call it stubbornness.”
“It can be both.” They were quiet for a long minute. “I’ll call the boys back down—”
“No, no.” Elizabeth shook her head. “Cameron will know I was crying, and they worry about me enough. I’ll see them tomorrow. That’s something to look forward to. Maybe I can open a window, and we can talk if you keep them near the sidewalk.” She grimaced. “I’m sorry. I didn’t even—how’s Danny handling all of this?”
“Okay. We’re FaceTiming as much as we can, but I haven’t seen him since this started.” Jason paused. “We’re basically quarantining here, so Sonny and Carly are talking about doing a pod with their kids, and it’d be good for the boys to see Joss and someone other than me. I’m hoping Sam will let Danny come over and be part of it.”
“That sounds good. Really.” She sighed. “Is Sam still mad?”
“No,” Jason said quickly, which meant that she was. Sam hadn’t been happy Jason had agreed to quarantine with Elizabeth’s boys, claiming they’d been exposed thanks to Elizabeth’s job and had decided Danny wouldn’t come to Jason’s for the shutdown. That had been a month ago, and Elizabeth had all but forgotten about it with everything going on at work.
“I’ll let you deal with that since I don’t care,” Elizabeth said without thinking. Then winced. “Sorry—”
“No, you have more important things to worry about. It’s fine. Even if I hadn’t take Aiden and Cam, Jake would be here, and she’d have the same argument. She’s just scared because of Danny and the cancer.”
“I know. I know. She should be more cautious. I would be, too.” That didn’t change the fact that Sam could and would use any opportunity to take a jab at Elizabeth and Jake, but that was a problem for another day. “I’m going to head up to bed. Tell the boys I love them, and I’ll see them tomorrow.”
“Okay. Eat something first,” he said as her finger hovered over the red button to end the call. “I left soup.”
And now Elizabeth’s laughter was genuine and full-throated. Tears slid down her cheeks again. “You’ve been waiting twenty years to say that.”
She ended the call and then went to heat up the soup.