#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 57

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 57

Day 57


One of the neighbour’s kids has just jumped in their newly purchased pool. The water sloshes around as he moves around the narrow circle of water. I am sitting in the study on the first floor of our house, my laptop overheating from too many open programs, my body trapping the radiated heat. I stand up and watch the blue water, cool and fresh in this hot day.

The second boy joins the first and they begin a duel of holding breath, their heads fully submerged under water. ‘One, two, three, four, five…’ Their step father counts aloud, the entire neighbourhood listening in. He stops counting after 30.

‘Two hundreds and three! Wow R. this is amazing!’

We don’t hear of the record of K. Presumably it was much less. They try again, and again, until breathless, the boys sit cross legged in the middle of the pool, the water reaching halfway up their torso.

The files I was working on exported, I close the programs. My laptop hyperventilates for a minute longer, a last groan of anger at too many demanding tasks, and falls silent.

I get off the chair and stretch, looking out of the window into the neighbour’s garden. The pool is empty. One of the boys – I can never tell who is R. and who is K. – is lying next to the baby under a makeshift umbrella. He is making faces at little J. who wriggles his body in delight. They are both naked save for a pair of underwear. I watch them play for a while before returning to my laptop.

‘How many burgers should I cook,’ the man’s voice booms above the fence.

‘One each will be fine,’ the woman replies.

I realise I still don’t know their names. They have shared it when we moved but this was months ago and I was too busy juggling too many admin tasks to find space in my brain to remember.

Smoke rises from their barbecue, the acrid smell sliding under the glass of the open window. I cough and reduce the gap between the window and the open world. The man looks up and sees me from his garden. I smile and wave.

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