Working through the contents page of my collection, When I Am Not Writing Poetry, comes a taster from the third story in the collection, ‘A Time of Plague; A Time of Love’. There are 26 further stories to introduce, so we are still just beginning this marathon: a month of short stories! I began writing short stories during the Covid lockdown as a break from poems… to make a change… and found that I liked the genre.
A time of plague – what was I thinking! And now a man and a girl; a poet and his muse; a lecturer and his student take the stage.
A tale of two halves!
It was strange to think of the poet sitting in his usual chair, drinking his usual espresso coffee and watching the world go by. As usual. She liked to think of him like that—his old scarf still around his neck despite the warmth of the place, his jacket open on the usual black T-shirt and his bag on the floor under the table—although she knew that now—now in this strange time—he would have to be at home. Because he was old—well, old by her standards—and he wasn’t allowed to leave his house—he had told her that—in case he came into contact with a plague victim and caught the disease—at his age, it would be very difficult to shake it off and recover, she could barely bring herself to think that it might mean he would die. That couldn’t be allowed to happen, she would never forgive herself if meeting her for a coffee killed him! And she couldn’t visit him as she usually did every Wednesday…
The first half of the story certainly shows a girl in love, infatuated, perhaps, by an older man. But the second half is written in a male voice and the poet may have a different view!