31 x 31
January 1, 2021 § 1 Comment
It’s January, 2021, and we’re still in another form of lockdown. This time it feels a bit worse. No Christmas ahead, just dark nights, cold days, and people getting sick. So, to keep busy, I’m going again with the short pieces. This time it’s January, so 31 x 31.
After Brian and Claire book their vaccinations, they discuss what to wear. Brian hasn’t been out since March. He looks through his ties and polishes his shoes. Claire irons a blouse.
In the supermarket, Maz recognises a face from TV. Above his wonky mask, the actor’s glasses steam up. For a minute, it does feel like we are all in this together.
They worry about the car. Parked on the street, it looks neglected, splats of pigeon poo sticking to the windows. They half expect to find someone living on the back seat.
She knows he is better with his friends, but Nancy misses Alfie, away at university. She wonders how people coped during the War, saying goodbye to sons, not hearing a word.
Bibby makes the mistake of watching the news. Usually, she avoids it, but sometimes John Snow pops up before she realises. A new strain in Brazil. Bibby switches over to Corrie.
“How much harder can I stay at home?” says Milly, contemplating a harder lockdown.
“It’s all that click and collect,” says her mum. Milly sighs. “So Covid’s the fault of Argos?”
Wearing his Liverpool top, Carl turns on the TV for the game.
“That Johnson, he better not cancel football.”
“They need to stop hugging,” says Dawn. “And singing ‘Someone Like You.’”
Brendan and Flora wait for their vaccine appointment. Both in their 80s, they wonder if they’ve fallen off the list.
“Like the time we got bumped from that flight to Alicante.”
Samir runs late at night. He passes the Covid-locked museum and wonders why all the lights are on. A Chinese vase is illuminated in the high window, secret, but still there.
Coming off shift, nurse Aziza peels off her mask. Her face is raw, a deep welt on her nose. Management recommends zinc oxide, but she’d prefer a month in the Maldives.
As they don’t have a laptop, the school says Sky can go in. The parents’ WhatsApp is pretty judgmental though, so they leave by the back door and don’t tell anyone.
Next door, the Morgans – Mr, Mrs and the teenage twins – are isolating. Mrs Morgan texts her neighbour.
“We’re tired, bickering, but ok. I can’t taste chocolate though, so what’s the point?”
They watch Trump nuts storming the US Capitol.
“This is shocking,” they say, ‘but it’s a relief too. Terrible news from somewhere else and not 1000 people dying on our doorstep.”
Student Dan wants to leave.
“I could go right now,” he tells his dad. “My mental health will suffer if you keep me here.”
“Sorry, son. Blame Boris. Oh, and vote.”
“I can’t do this until Easter,” says Amy.
“Back to work though. More structure. That helps,” says Lemi, her husband.
Amy agrees but has a little cry before her first Zoom.
Carla’s mum tells her that the new strain has two arms.
“So now it can grab on twice as powerfully. That’s the kicker.”
Carla pictures a red M&M, with evil eyebrows.
Bel is doing #DryJanuary. “It’s imperative. I’m in a wine fuelled spiral.”
“I understand,” says Nat, nodding, “but I’ve been perfecting my dry Manhattan, and anyway, the cases are still rising.”
They went to bed after midnight, but at 3am she got up. Standing at the window, eating the purple Quality Street, she couldn’t decide if that feeling was hope or dread.