Working through the contents page of my collection, When I Am Not Writing Poetry, we come to the fifth story in the collection, ‘One Four Five’. There are 25 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… and Covid became central to several of the stories. As this taster will show!
Day 145 to be precise and all the isolation has become too much. Perhaps there is an element of self-examination going on here; the author can certainly be recognised in the initial description of a man living alone. However, what happens next – as enforced isolation becomes too much for the man in the story – is very much fiction!
It was at the end of day one hundred and forty-five that it happened. He thought that in some ways it wasn’t surprising. He had told himself all along that it would happen. So it should not have been even alarming—in normal circumstances he would have thought nothing of it. But now. At this point. After so long alone in the house. It was unbelievable. Shocking!
It wasn’t that he minded living alone. It was just what he did now. Had been what he did since she left. And then one hundred and forty-five days ago the decree had been made. His status became official. Do not go out unless you have to. Stay home. Do not meet anybody who is not a part of your household. Isolate! He didn’t think it would make much difference to him—he would have to organise some grocery deliveries instead of going to the shops. Big deal! He did most of his other shopping online so why not food? For him, life would carry on pretty much as usual. Here, in his cottage in his garden on his farm he had rarely had visitors and he had rarely gone out on visits—he had stayed at home and looked after his garden and his bees. He had been happy. Now all that had changed was the frequency—he would almost never go out and almost never have visitors. It would leave him more time to himself—more time to sit at his computer and compose poems, more time to tend his garden. There would be no interruptions. Life had just got better.
In some ways.