Love in the time of Corona – Chapter 1
How did she sleep through another alarm? Liz knows her boss will have a fit when she rolls in late. It’s Tuesday. Strategy brainstorm day. Everyone gets to stare at the boardroom table and wish their lives shorter while this week’s sacrificial lamb flicks through six drab PowerPoint slides and explains away disappointing sales figures.
The milk is off.
How can that be? She only bought it two days ago. Or maybe three. Certainly, it’s not older than a week. She’ll stop going to that garage. Nothing from there lasts.
There’s a cereal bar in her bag. Liz eats it.
She runs a brush through her hair.
If she runs, she might just make the meeting.
Waiting for a bus, Liz remembers she didn’t clean her teeth and finds a single breath mint stuck to the lining of her pocket.
Always be prepared.
A nearby car looks abandoned. That happens a lot these days. Sussex Street used to be lovely, but it’s gone downhill since all the big houses became flats and they took away the parking permits.
The car is covered in dust.
The roads are quiet.
Quieter than usual. It’s never mad busy in this part of town, but this feels more like Sunday.
Briefly, Liz wonders if she overslept and mixed up her days. Is it Sunday?
She pulls out her phone.
Tuesday, 17 March 2020.
Liz could call in sick. But she already did that.
Two weeks ago, she self isolated, claiming a sore throat and fever, and coughing when her boss sounded like he might not be buying it.
‘They warned us to stay home for seven days,’ she reminded him. ‘The last thing I want to do is spread my germs or infect an old person.’
Across the street, she spots a guy who always nods hello.
He’s grown his hair. It suits him.
He nods hello.
Liz fiddles with her phone. Even if a bus comes now, she’ll be late. Perhaps she could go home and scavenge breakfast. An egg. There might be bread. Certainly there’s crusts. And a jar of cinnamon-spiced marmalade left over from the sales team Christmas hamper. Money would have been nicer, but the biscuits were lovely.
‘Do you think there’s been an accident?’ Nod Hello Man says.
Liz puffs out her cheeks, checks the time and looks both ways.
‘It is quiet today,’ she says.