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Fiction Fantasy

Intro:

There was a general hubbub of excitement as the community group, “The Ladybugs” congregated together as best they could, considering the social distancing rules. It was hard not to hug someone you had only seen via Zoom for months on end. Harder still to maintain the mandatory mask-wearing, as though it was the height of fashion; though I suspect most of us wear masks every day of our lives. If that were not the case hatred would not be rampant, the offence would not be taken so easily, and forgiveness would be worn as a garment rather than offered as a last resort. There was much excitement, as we chatted, it was reminiscent of my first day of term, aeons ago. Suddenly there was silence when Val the President came up to a group of us with a smile that made her eyes sparkle “Guess what ladies…?”

“You’re mad and I’m not,” I replied; the remark getting the desired effect.  Hearty laughter, like a balm to the soul, could be heard. It was going to be a good night; I could feel it in my bones.

The Banshee:

If you are like me, COVID and anything related to it is a trial. How many times have we planned an event, important, semi-important or needed, for the enemy to rear its ugly head and almost thumb its nose, while world leaders tell us to hibernate with masks and without family? Our particular version of a world leader is consistent both in keeping the blanky thing and the voting public, under control. While he is not alone, I can’t say I am a fan of his, but I am not yet at the stage of… Oh dear ... I ‘spoke’ too soon because there was an announcement from a certain person again.

“What was that I heard?”  my mind registering but not connecting to the disappointment that hovered. I moved closer to the radio, as though it would make a difference to the news.

“What?” I stood open-mouthed listening, blood pressure rising, temper catching up.

That Bally Toad.” I screamed, “who in the name of Covid does he think he is?”

My husband’s voice is quiet but firm, as he hides behind the newspaper. What an irony; the radio is on loud enough to silence the birds in the trees, and Jim is reading the newspaper, his favourite past time.

“He was voted in darling, although there is every chance there will be others like you, who when the time comes will rush to vote him out.” eyes riveted on the sports page “what has the ‘bally toad’ done, this time?”

Exasperated, I looked at Jim none too lovingly “Extended the lockdown indefinitely. There are worse cases in the UK, or the USA never mind the middle east and…”

Jim’s smile was annoying as he looked at me over his reading glasses; his baby blues watching me as though assessing what side of the wifely danger signal, I was standing on.  He spoke again,

“So apart from the church, how is this going to affect you more than before?” Jim can be so irritating especially if he poses an intelligent question when I want to rant and rave, instead of adopting a calm veneer.

“The Ladybugs meetings were to restart. What if he extends and extends, and we are stuck…” I whispered “I was asked to do a speech for the fifth birthday celebrations. Why is it every important birthday or milestone is curtailed or ignored because of this blanky thing?” I was close to tears.

“I don’t know sweetheart.” Jim answered “but consider what we still have; our health, wealth such as it is, a hospital close by, the family remains unaffected by covid. I have one piece of advice.” he smiles at me.

“What?”

“Write the speech, because an empty page will not get the job done. If you had read the newspaper it stated that they may extend the lockdown, but only if necessary. If need be, zoom will come to the rescue as before. You are a worrywart Gina, and at times you sound like a demented banshee. I still love you as you are though.   How about a cuppa and some fruitcake? Rising from his seat intending to put the kettle on he listened to me patiently.

“I look like a four-roomed cottage, Jim.” I wailed probably like a banshee.

“Sure, you do.” he agrees “you have wallpapered the cracks well; oh, sorry that’s the foundation!” a statement that went down well… into a pit. Turning around he looked at me, ignoring the stare and said,

 “Speech” and walked away.

You will be pleased to know, I did as my loving husband suggested while devouring the fruitcake and coffee, mumbling to myself as I wrote. The telephone rang, I answered, with the usual banal greeting; I recognise the voice

“Hi, Gina It’s Val. How art thou?”

“Somewhat angry!” I replied

“Why?”

“Haven’t you heard, Val?”

“Oh, that! It won’t stop the party, love. We might have to have it over two nights, depending on the number of people we are allowed to have. We might have to alter the menu, too, but as you are the speaker you will get to go both nights.”

“Will I?”

“Why not? everything else will be the same  Two things I ask of you; don’t go on a diet in case there is party food, and bring your mask in case it is fashion week” she giggles

“What were you doing before I rang?” Val asked, “you sounded distracted.”

“Obeying Jim.”

“That would be a first.” more giggles “what did he say?”

I told her trying hard not to sound petulant but not really succeeding.

“I’m with Jim. Write it, and be positive. There will still be a meeting. I’d better go Gina; rehearse your speech with your mask on just in case! Bye.”

Have you tried talking with a mask on; more importantly projecting your voice with a mask on? Yes, there would be a microphone, and it might work but there again, magnified gasping? Thrills!

I put the blanky mask on and spoke sounding thus:

“Gad even Ladus My name is Gi (cough cough cough)” I pulled the thing off.  Suddenly a glass of water was placed in my hand. Jim waited while I took some.

“I can’t do this,” I said, sounding pathetic

“Of course, you can’t,” said Jim “what does practise and a bicycle have in common?”

I looked at him answering the question with my eyes as wide as saucers.

“You’re not suggesting…”

“Suit yourself do you want success or failure? Get back on the bicycle”

I am not good at apologies, come to that I’m not good at taking advice or correction. I finished the speech with the mask on and with a bad grace. Blow Covid, blow lockdown, blow up. Welcome to the new world!

The Big Day

“Well tell us Val.” another of the group said as we stood agog.

“We get an update about the lockdown soon. Do you think we should be daring and wait for ten minutes?” I heard the champagne cork pop and glasses being filled  I saw the potato chips appear and placed on the table, followed by other delicacies. One thing anyway, Val was positive, COVID was not going to spoil the night.

I went on to the stage wearing the mask, noticing the microphone strategically placed so that it would look as though I was about to devour it mask permitting. I stood with a fixed smile, which no one could see. There is a tranquillity about the room until Val runs down the aisle

“I got it horribly wrong. Lockdown is over, in fact, it was over from 11.59 last night. Sorry ladies; sorry Gina.”

Talk about freedom, we were like kids in the park

I took my mask off and threw it in the air much like a bride throws her bouquet   I stood at the microphone.  To be honest the speech I gave was nothing like the one I had prepared.  It shows how relaxed one can be if the mandatory mask is thrown away.

“Happy Fifth Birthday Ladybugs.” I finished my tale with a smile “When do we start Prep class? or have we progressed to champagne?” 

March 12, 2021 05:30

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