no backsies



“April Fool!”

Following a night in which I got very little sleep, I awakened to a beautiful sunrise – it looked like it was going to be another cracker of a day. Standing at the kitchen sink while I waited for the kettle to boil, I stared out the window at my cherished garden. It looked reassuringly normal. The hostas were starting to bloom. Tiny blue tits were busy pulling bits off the coir baskets that held my pansies to make nests. The ivy along the fence was still; no breeze yet.

The calendar on the wall informed me it was Wednesday “1st April, but I had serious doubts that I would turn on BBC Breakfast to hear any of the news presenters say “April Fool.”

By this – my 15th day of lockdown – I would’ve not only forgiven but joyously kissed the feet of anyone in power who said “April Fool.”

There were small things I could do to maintain a semblance of normalcy. That first cup of coffee and a cigarette, which I had at my desk while checking my email. These days it was mostly spam: cruel messages from cruel people selling face masks “guaranteed to protect your loved ones from coronavirus!” Emails from dodgy people containing even dodgier links to videos purporting to tell you “what your government doesn’t want you to know about Covid-19!” Emails from the HR department at my job explaining how the furlough programme worked and how long it would last before we could (hopefully) return to work, “this date being subject to change based on government advice.”

There were the usual morning things I did everyday pre-lockdown: make the bed. That takes two minutes. Feed the fish. That kills another minute, and it’s not a task I perform every day, as their feeding schedule is every other day. Work on my novel, which I deeply enjoy doing first thing in the morning, and which usually uses up one or two hours. Unfortunately, this morning I only managed three paragraphs; my treacherous brain was insisting on going off on tangents I did not wish to explore.

There’s always breakfast. Depending on what I felt like eating, cooking was always a good way to spend the time. A grilled cheese sandwich…perhaps a BLT with pickles. Bacon and pancakes? Something simple, like salmon on toast with cream cheese, or my all-time favourite: sausage and hash browns with toast? I knew I was lucky to have choices, to have food in the fridge and the freezer and well-stocked cupboards. Wondering how many people were not as lucky turned my stomach into a small hard knot – I no longer felt like cooking…I didn’t even feel hungry any more. Instead, I lit another cigarette and made another cup of coffee, averting my gaze from the bottles of gin and wine as I did so. I do not want to end up a fat alcoholic at the end of this.

If only I knew when it would end…if there were a concrete day on the calendar I could circle in my favourite shade of green to look forward to.

If only somebody could say “April Fool” and all this would just go away.

“There are no backsies for this,” the annoying little man in my head whispered.

A large glass of wine silenced him.

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