Creative Writing

A Month in the Country

Tuesday 24th March

They announced it last night. We have to shut ourselves into our own homes and not see anybody. I can go for a walk for an hour a day, I can go to buy food, I can go to the Doctor’s. Shops and schools are closed, buses and trains are cancelled. I was supposed to be going to the cinema on Friday.

Thursday 26th March

I can only listen to the news for half an hour in the morning, after that it’s the same headlines again and again. It’s all getting a bit overwhelming. The streets are empty, no cars driving through the village and hardly anybody out. I went for a walk this morning but it was like being in a ghost town or some sort of Western when the Sheriff has just been shot and everyone goes into hiding. Actually, that’s exactly what it’s like.

Saturday 28th March 

I went into the village today. I’d been putting it off but only had a tin of tomato soup left. I didn’t see a soul until I got to the square. There was a line of people standing outside the shop. Marjory was in front of me and we had a bit of a chat, mostly about potting on the tomatoes. She said Graham had a bit of a cough so had stayed at home. I found myself stepping back a bit from her even though there was already a space between us.

Sunday 29th March

Not sure if I’m imagining it or not, but I have a sore throat today. I looked online and if you can hold your breath for a minute and not feel completely breathless then you are alright so, by that reckoning, I should be OK. Not taking any chances though and will make sure I avoid Marjory from now on. When I walked back through the village I noticed a big sign hanging outside the church ‘second homers stay away’ – that’ll be half the village then.

Monday 30th March

There was a knock on the door today and my heart nearly stopped. I stood in the kitchen with a pint of milk in my hand and froze. I wasn’t expecting anybody and I can’t let anyone in. I peeped my head around the kitchen door so they couldn’t see I was home. There was a letter on the door mat. I didn’t know what to do. What if it was infected? I got my washing up gloves and opened it over the wheelie bin in the garden. It was only a council tax reminder. I put the letter in the greenhouse to disinfect it. Apparently the virus can last up to 72 hours on metal and there was a paper clip on the corner. I’m not taking any chances.

Wednesday 1st April

I had to go into town today and do a proper shop. It was odd to drive again. The roads were empty apart from a few cyclists. Waitrose wasn’t too bad. A queue of us in the carpark but no one talking to each other. It was as if no one wanted to open their mouths in case the virus got it. Shopping was strangely normal but slower somehow. It’s hard to describe – like being in a dream. The aisles were empty of people but there was loads of food. Except flour. No flour. How am I going to make my bread?

Saturday 4th April

Things have changed so quickly. Alice and Steve came up from London this morning. So strange to think that they were here just a few weeks ago and everything was normal.  They shouldn’t have come. Alice said hello across the wall but I just raised my hand and went into the greenhouse. I like her and everything but God only knows what she’s brought up with her. Did she see the sign I wonder?

Monday 6th April

Marjory called to say that Graham had to go into hospital but she’s not allowed to visit him. They’ve never been apart in all the years they’ve been married. She was completely distraught, poor thing, so I offered to take her some of my food. She told me to stay away but I couldn’t leave her like that so we came up with a plan. I took her a bag of the essentials and hung it over her front gate. She waved from the window and I blew her a kiss. I’d love to sit and have a cup of tea with her.

Tuesday 7th April

Easter next weekend. Normally I’d be getting the flowers ready for the church but we’ve all had an email from the vicar telling us that church is cancelled. How can you cancel Easter service? How will that bring comfort to the parish?

Friday 10th April

Good Friday. I don’t know what to do with myself. I can’t plant out until these evening frosts end. Marjory called in tears. They’ve put Graham on a ventilator and she’s no idea if she’ll see him again. Her daughter’s in Berlin so absolutely no good to her. I wiped down the Easter egg I bought the other day and left it on her front step. I couldn’t think what else to do.

Sunday 12th April

No church. No friends. No lamb. No Easter egg. This time last year I did that lovely roast and the vicar and Marjory and Graham came too. We sat in the garden and drank sherry and didn’t know how lucky we were. I wish they were here now. It’s all very well thanking God for the sunshine and the birdsong but I want to talk to someone.

Thursday 16th April

I went to the farm shop today for a change. Now they do a drive through service so you don’t even have to get out of the car. I just rolled down my window and told the girl what I wanted and she put it in the boot. I didn’t even have to get out of the car. She had a face mask on, it had flowers on it. I missed seeing her smile.

Monday 20th April

Graham has died. Marjory called to let me know. She hasn’t seen him since he went in and she’s not allowed to see him now. There’s going to be a virtual funeral on Thursday, she’s allowed to watch from her front room. They’ve said she can’t leave the house for fourteen days and even then only if she really has to get something.

Thursday 23rd April

The vicar held the service in the church. I couldn’t go of course. No-one could. We all sat alone in our homes and watched it online. Robert was there too, he played All Things Bright and Beautiful on the organ and I sang along. I’ve always liked that one. He had to be cremated. That’s what they do now, just in case. I kept thinking of Marjory sitting at her kitchen table and her daughter over in Berlin and me, here. Alone. Marjory says she’ll still do a gravestone for him when this is all over. Perhaps we can go up there together. Perhaps.


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23/03/2021

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Denise Munroe


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