Drama Fiction Sad

'What’s the date today? Is it the anniversary of the day I came home from the hospital? It was the same day as we started this national lockdown.` Looking at the well-thumbed calendar and trying to focus on the squares. Then fiddling in the pocket of my cardigan, I pull out my reading glasses and slip them on the end of my nose.

‘Yes, it is,’ I chuckle, satisfied that I am correct, I lean back in the chair. The world outside my window seems barely to have changed although I know it has. There are so many restrictions now, so many government warnings. So many new laws that I have forgotten most of them. There are news conferences daily; by politicians I have never heard of before this pandemic arrived. Sorry, they are calling it a global pandemic, now that it’s everywhere. 

‘If we keep the door and window shut it won’t get in here; so don’t worry, Petra, this room will remain virus-free.’ I laugh again. 

'Do you remember when all those people in Italy were out on their balconies, singing together? Shame so many people, like us, have no balcony.'

‘Look,’ I say, 'there is somebody walking outside, down there in the street. Oh my, they’re not wearing a mask either. No wonder so many people have died. Some people are just stupid and selfish; the world has gone completely mad.’ I watch the young man walk down the pavement opposite; I think swagger would be a better description. 

'He acts like he’s looking for trouble, waiting for someone to challenge him. I think he’ll be disappointed though. We haven’t seen a policeman on these streets since long before this pandemic arrived.' I stood up and walked nearer the window so I could watch him walk away into the distance. 

'When did we see that car cruise past? You know, the red one that drove up and down the road a few times. We never did find out what it was doing here; it wasn't a local one. I would have recognised it if it was.' I went back and lowered myself into my chair and continued watching. It was nice to see that the birds are back in the trees over at this corner of the park. I wish I could hear them chirp and twitter but that would mean opening the window and we're not having any virus spores blowing in here. 

'We've managed for a year without letting them in so, now it's getting near the end, I don't want to fall at the last hurdle. What do you say, Petra?' There was a movement in the sky so I leant down, picked up my binoculars from the carpet and searched the sky.

'There's an aeroplane; can you see it? That's the first for a while, so maybe they are letting people fly again. I suppose they would have to be the one's lucky enough to have had both injections or maybe they are just giving the plane a run-out. Like you would with a car you weren't using much.' The plane disappears into the cloud and out of view. 

'When is the supermarket bringing the food, can you remember?' I pick up the calendar again and look for FOOD marked on it. 

'It's tomorrow, at two o'clock, providing they're on time. Last week they didn't arrive until almost four. Remember, we thought we were going to have to do without milk in our tea? It was a real panic, wasn't it? The driver was most apologetic and quite nice, considering I only spoke to him through a closed door. I suppose they have got used to that now. As instructed, he left everything on the doorstep. He seemed a nice young man. Remember, I watched him take his delivery crates back to his van and put them away very neatly.'

I look at the clock on the fireplace, a present for long service from the company I retired from. It is almost time for the Prime Minister's statement on TV. I find the remote control underneath the papers on the table beside my chair and press the on button. I wish he would comb his hair when he is out in public. He looks too young to rule a country like ours. Most politicians are old fuddy-duddies but they have the experience, something which seems to be discounted now. The number of cases is continuing to fall, he says, but I'm not sure if it's all bluff to make us feel better. His hair is much too long but with the barbershops closed maybe even he can't get it cut. 

When his speech ends, 'nothing new there then,' I say as I switch the TV off.

'No sense in wasting electricity,' I laugh again. I seem to be laughing a lot more these days, finding humour in little things. 

'I wonder if people still stand outside and clap on a Thursday night, Petra?' I never did it as it means stepping outside and it seemed a bit pointless. It would be better to pay them more money, so their families get the benefit too. You can't spend applause. 

'Oh look, the swagger man is back, still no mask. He must be heading home after a failed attempt to provoke the law.' I stand and watch him until he turns the corner and down the side of the bank. It feels better to stretch my legs so I walk around the room a few times. I think I need to get the vacuum out tomorrow, can't be bothered today. Mind you, I have been promising to do that for a couple of weeks now but I can't summon the enthusiasm to do it. 

'Can't do it tomorrow, supermarket delivery at two o'clock. If they manage to keep to their time scale.' 

Normally, at this time, the kids would all be steaming down the pavements on their way home. Joking, jostling and bullying each other, shirt flaps out of their trousers, jackets and school bags swung over their shoulders. Nothing to see now as all the schools are closed so the street remains empty. The shops are all closed too, how do those people survive with their business closed for all this time? I'm glad I don't work anymore.

'Where did I put that novel I started last week?' I ask and then spot it down by the leg of the chair. I sit back down and pick it up.

'Where was I?' I open it and find my bookmark on page seven. I stare at the print but it's not going in. I seem to have read the same line over and over and I still don't know what it says. In fact, I don't remember what happened in the previous six pages so I drop it back on the floor. Maybe I'll read it tomorrow. I get a pencil and begin to write a list of all the outstanding jobs I need to do but it becomes so long I just drop it back on the table. 

The cat jumps up on my knee and I stroke her warm sleek fur; she purrs and settles down.

'You like that don't you Petra?' 

March 08, 2021 13:44

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