Joe Parker opened his eyes.
His first thought was, Here we go. Another day in lockdown. How long had it
been now? Going on four months. Hed read that the virus was causing a lot
of stress and mental strain. No wonder, especially for senior
citizens like himself. As if being old wasnt bad enough in itself; now
they had some damn bug targeting them. It wasnt as if they were taking
any chances. About the only time theyd left their house was when the
weather allowed them to taken a walk in their retirement communitys
He looked over and saw that
his wife Mary had already gotten up.He looked at the bedside clock, not eight
oclock yet. Like many in their retirement community, Joe and Mary battled
insomnia. Being in lockdown hadnt helped. Well, he might as well get up
and face another day.
Mary was at the kitchen
counter, cutting fruit into her cereal. Fruit was supposed to be good for
oldsters like them. She asked him how hes slept. Not bad, he
told her. How about you?
I was up around
three, she said. I couldnt get back to sleep so I took
Joe poured his orange juice
and took his usual pills, for his blood pressure so that he wouldnt have
a heart attack or stroke, for his digestion, for his arthritis and Vitamin D
that was supposed to build up his immunity system. He too had cereal with
fruit. He scanned the morning newspapers headlines, more virus cases,
more people in the hospital, more deaths. The politicians in Washington still
arguing over another stimulus bill. The argument over opening schools or not.
Another night of rioting in Portland. Nothing there to make you feel any better
After his cereal Joe would
go out to the patio, have a leisurely second cup of coffee and tackle the
papers crossword puzzle. This was his routine and, as he told himself,
maybe the best part of his day. Mary meanwhile would be playing word games on
her iPad with her friends, her routine. Joe was on his way to the patio when
Mary said, I wish youd wash out your cereal bowl before you
I do wash it out.
Well, maybe not all the time.
And put your cereal
back up on the shelf for a change.
Ill do it
Why not do it
Because my coffee
will get cold!
Look, all I want to
do is relax for a few minutes. Is that asking too much?
I just wish you
wouldnt leave such a mess all the time.
I dont leave a
mess. Joe took his coffee and the newspaper out to the patio and closed
the door behind him, hard. He realized he was pretty mad. He stewed for a
while, looking out at their back yard and seeing that it wasnt as windy
as it had been lately. That was something. Finally, he managed to concentrate
on the puzzle and almost finished it.
He went back into the
house. Mary was in her chair, looking at her iPad. She looked up at him.
I think we have the lockdown blues, he said.
I read that a lot of
couples are divorcing.
Lets not do
I wonder when this
virus will go away?
Its going to be
a while. Its not too bad out. Lets go to the park.
All right. Ill
go get ready.
There were a few other
people in the park that morning, younger people, a couple of women walking
their dogs, one man jogging. They saw an older couple, the man with a cane,
walking slowly along the path, hand in hand.