First published in WRITE ON Magazine, Lockdown Voices Issue.
I shuffle forward, cautious of not popping the two-metre bubble that surrounds every person around me. I look behind and see people lost and confused. Some are engrossed in their phones and others just gaze blankly. There is no buzz of chatter or smiles to brighten my day. Everyone looks disconcerted. Even I feel drained, still adapting to this change. There is an eerie silence that is interrupted by the occasional car or cry of a sea gull. White shell-like masks cover the faces of some, hiding the bottom half of their face for protection from the virus.
“Next,” huffs a tall, willowy man, dressed in a smart navy-blue uniform, who is meaninglessly clicking his pen.
He lets customers in slowly, one by one. Finally I’m at the front and it is my turn to be let in. My nose twitches as it meets with the sterile air. I am greeted by a table with a bottle of hand sanitiser on top. I press on the dispenser and let the cloud of foam tumble into my hands. It evaporates once I rub them together leaving a cold, dry, almost burning sensation. Turning around, I see a maze lies ahead, filled with hundreds of others wanting the same thing. Cans, toilet paper, all the basics to survive. People dive from all directions hoping to grasp the last of the stock. But there is an invisible two-metre barrier that is stopping people from getting too close. I have never seen so many deserted shelves and hectic people; it is amazing how careless people can be.
Bold signs are everywhere, suspended in the air, on windows and on the ground. Small dots are stuck and scattered on the polished floor. I locate what I need, trying to move as fast as possible, dodging frantic people, who clutch overflowing baskets. But with all these obstacles it seems impossible.
I’m finally at the check out. My head is starting to spin from breathing the chemical air. Fist full of shopping bags containing all the basic things I need, I escape through the door, finally out of that chaotic place.
The fresh air is amazing, pulsing me with cool, crisp energy, making me feel alive. Rushing air billows past me, inflating my clothes and disarraying my hair. I focus on propelling my feet down, again and again, keeping me moving , but I can’t help noticing the small herds of families, laughing and enjoying the brilliant sunlit autumn day.
Not everything is black and white, there is always colour, it’s just a matter of searching. It may seem like the end of the world, but there are good things too, like packages, waiting to be opened.