#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 45

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 45

Day 45

I awake cranky and feeling twice the size I am.

‘I’m not in a good mood,’ I tell my partner. ‘It’s that day before my period where nothing is right. Be gentle please,’ I ask. I know I will be prone to overreacting and lashing out at the slightest annoyance.

I eat a quick breakfast of toast and get moving. Sitting still itches the inside of my body, as if my blood has transformed into slime. I grab a cloth, the duster, and the bottle of cleaner. I spray every surface I encounter and dust any corner I see. In the bedroom, I clean around my partner, the duster sliding behind her neck onto the bed post. Next up is the study with all my cameras. I clean every single one of them, the top of the shelving unit white once more. The task finished, I grab the hoover and change heads multiple times. I vacuum the sofa bed, the chair, the corner I never normally go too. I twist my body to reach the recesses under the sofa. Outside, the bin lorry pulls up by our house, its loud beeping announcing the reverse motion of its wheels. Glass shattering into million pieces rings above the roar of the hoover. A man cries out a sentence I can’t make out and the lorry is on the move again.

The vacuum sucks out the last particle of dust from the study and I move onto the corridor and the stairs. One by one, I clean the dirt and hair out of the dark blue carpet, every white dot an adversary to be vanquished. The hoover is sucking them all, taking with it the slime in my veins. In the kitchen I spray all surfaces frantically, from the top of the fridge, to the skirting, via every cupboard doors. I scrub as hard as I can. On my knees I wipe the floor, press hard onto the white floor cloth until every stain has gone. I open the window and close the door.

‘There I no going into the kitchen!’ I shout to my partner still in bed. ‘And please try to keep it clean today. Just today,’ I add to attempt softening my previous sentence.

‘Okay,’ she replies loudly.

I throw my clothes into the laundry basket and head under the shower. Shampoo, face cleaner, and soap all take away the last imagined layers of grease I feel on my body. I select one of my nice shirt and a clean pair of jeans before walking into the study. It is 10 o’clock and I am finally ready to get to work. I plugin my headphones and open the file for my audio piece for Queer Out Here. Outside I can still hear glass shattering onto an ever growing pile of shards as the bin lorry zigzag its way in and out of the side roads squiggling around the main artery of my street.

My stomach rumbling, I leave the computer and prepare a quick lunch of chopped vegetables and humous. I settle in front of the television with my partner and lose myself in a silly program for an hour.

‘Do you want to go for a walk,’ my partner asks as the end credits roll on screen.

‘Sure. Give me ten minutes.’ I hop up the stairs and export my latest draft, saving it on my laptop, my external hard drive, and online. I glide down the stairs eager to get out and see my partner in the kitchen with her shoes on. I snap ‘Get out of the kitchen now please!’

It is uncalled for and unkind but the sight of her shoes on the clean kitchen floor send my blood boiling. She rushes outside and walk away. I grad the baseball glove and ball, lock the door and run after her. My lungs on fire I reach her as she is about to turn the corner to the footpath out of our street.

We talk through gritted teeth, neither of us willing to apologise, until there is nothing left to say. We stampede up our regular walk in cold silence, ignoring people around us, dodging cyclists and pedestrians that do not leave us two metres of space. Halfway up the climb I ask a mundane question. My partner answers. I hesitantly touches her hand. She lets me slide her fingers through hers and finally we apologise.

We reach the nearest park, a vast expanse of grass we have never set foot into before lockdown was enforced. It is flanked by a deserted playground, two locked tennis courts we have often mentioned but never used, and a basketball pitch. There are no trees in the grass, no paths, and no markings on the grounds. We both suspect it is normally a space used for collective sports. The high fences on every side would catch any stray ball kicked by eager footballers or rugby players.

On the basketball court, two teams of young people are playing a fierce game. Shirtless, they laugh and pass the ball between one another in the blink of an eye. I feel uneasy at the sight of so many people gathered in one spot. We keep as much distance as possible and head away from the basketball ground. Two friends are sitting apart in the grass, their dogs laying by their side. I look at them and picture my body between the tip of their feet. I wouldn’t fit in the gap. We walk on until we reach a deserted corner of the grass and set up a baseball game for two. The ball thrown high and low, we run as fast we can between made-up bases of jackets, scarves, and water bottle. My lungs burn under the effort, my throat filling with the tang of blood and metal. I undo a couple of buttons on my shirt and we carry on playing under the warm May sun.

‘I’m good,’ I tell my partner as I reach for the water bottle.

‘Sure?’

‘Yeah.’

We pack up out belongings and walk on through our usual route. The roads are busy with motorised traffic in a way I hadn’t seen for over a month. The acrid fumes invade our lungs and make us cough. We rush into the nearest side street and duck into a park. People are running, meeting friends, and moving too fast, too close. I am unable to relax in what feels like a constant attack. We hurry home.

‘Do you want an apéritif?’ I enquire.

‘Sure. What do you want?’

‘Mojitos?’

‘Okay then.’

‘I’ll make some guacamole and roast the cauliflower.’

I set to work on the food while my partner prepares the drinks.

‘Cheers!’ The glasses clang heavily against one another in the garden. We each take a sip, the liquid cold in our throat.

‘What time is it,’ my partner asks.

I check my phone. ‘Five thirty, why?’

‘This is optimum time in the garden isn’t it?’ She is looking at the sun. In half an hour, it will duck behind the foliage and houses at the back of our garden, casting a long shadow over our current spot.

‘Yes.’

‘When we go back to normal, we should rush home on a Friday and get an apéritif ready quickly to enjoy in the last of the sun.’

‘Well, I finish at 3.30pm on Friday,’ I remind her.

‘Then it’ll be your job to get everything ready for when I come back.’

‘Okay.’ We cling our glasses again, a pact sealed between us.

We look at the setting sun for a while, the mojitos sliding down to our bellies far too easily. The barriers I had held onto tightly during the day collapse as my brain grows fuzzy. The first shiver of our skins send us inside where we bake a homemade pizza to accompany a glass of wine, and An Affair to Remember. Peaches cook in the oven an hour later, honey darkening the yellow halves. I pour some Grand Marinier to share. We settle back on the sofa, press play on the DVD player and gradually shift closer to one another, our bodies merging into one as we collapse into an exhausted embrace.

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