February 2020.
A quick trip to Brussel, via Amsterdam. Pleasure, not business.
The budget flight is packed with English tourists.

Brussel seems normal. Quiet, the off season. Bruxelloise drink biertjes in the café. Rain.

News about a far away new virus circulates. Signs in the airport about reporting illness and quarantines if you travel from China. Very science fiction. A pandemic may be coming.

There's an outbreak in Italy. A few cases have spread to the UK. The government refuses to do anything to stop it coming in. Life carries on for now.

A pandemic is probably coming.

The airport, a busy transport hub. I wear a facemask, a precaution. I'm one of the few. My reward is the occasional queer look, a glance in my direction, other passengers faced unhappy to be faced with the future to come? Or just plain ridicule?

Am I being over-cautious? The stares make me question myself. It doesn't cost me anything. It may protect me. It may protect you.

I board my flight. I find my seat. Next to me, a woman speaks mandarin into her phone. My sister in mask-hood, the only two on this whole flight.

You all joined us in the end.