I’ve still been writing, but even this has been somewhat lacking. Why? Because of COVID 19. This horrific virus doesn’t give a fig about anyone’s life, in fact it tries to take it over.
Tomorrow will be the 1st October 2020 and we are still in the midst of this dreadful virus, and more cases are appearing every day. It doesn’t seem to matter what people do, (or in some cases don’t do) because it just wanders around looking for someone to attack. We all wander around wearing face masks etc. and I begin to wonder if, once we can stop wearing them, whether we’ll be able to recognise enyone.
Family life has changed so much for everyone. Gone are the days when we could do something spontaineously. I used to love it when my family came round and we hugged and kissed and generally laughed about life.
Can we still laugh about our lives now? I can smile perhaps, because I’m lucky. I’m lucky because I live in a country area with wonderful views from my windows. I can spend whole days working in the garden. But what about other people? What about all those people who live in high-rise flats and don’t have a garden to either walk around, or work in. Life for these people must be intolerable.
As I said before, it will be October tomorrow, so what can we look forward to? Christmas is now only weeks away, and yes, I have started to buy the odd Christmas present. Here, in England, we cannot meet any more than six people… I can picture our dining table on Christmas Day… there will only be six of us!! I usually cater for about 12… so who do I leave out?
I know… we could have two sittings, so can you picture me after cooking for six, saying …”lovely to see you, but you have to go home now… pick up your presents on the way out”. Then of course I’ll have to start cooking again for the next six.
I’ll be on my knees.
I think I’ll stick to writing. So I’ll go back to my next story. It’s a romance and it has the title of THE REFUGE. I seem to have been writing it for such a long time. I started it in 2019 and should have finished it by now. So far I’ve written just under 60,000 words, but I haven’t added anything much at all this year.
As I said just now, it is a romance, and romances in books don’t usually contain references to GLOBAL VIRUS ATTACKS. My biggest problem is whether I should mention COVID 19 all. Do other writers have the same worries? Would the mention of people being very ill, or even dying of this dreadful virus make readers throw the book they’re reading away? People being ill was not in my mind whilst writing this book at all. So perhaps I should make it true fiction and not mention it.
I was asked by the leader of a local Writing Group to write a piece, or a story about COVID 19. I sat down immediately to write something, and here it is:
A WAKING DILEMMA
I was trapped in the middle of a desperate crowd of angry, hungry people. Some of them were staggering around seemingly unable to do anything. I tried to move away, but nearly tripped over a poor woman who was writhing in agony on the damp cold ground. I saw others bending over before falling to the ground. Even more were shouting and screaming the words “Food… food… food. We are starving and dying because of the virus.” Others were demanding help: one young woman with long matted hair, and wearing a blanket around her narrow shoulders, stood there crying hysterically, ‘My baby is dying because I have no milk to give her, and my husband has just died.’ Others surged forward, shouting foul words that made me want to place my hands over my ears.
The people nearest to me had started to grab hold of my coat whilst trying to push me out of their way. I am quite a small person and throughout my life I remember larger people sometimes took advantage of my size and good nature. I felt exhausted, hungry and extremely frightened. I turned around to see if I could get away from this unruly ravenous crowd, but there seemed to be no way to escape.
Suddenly a large man loomed up before me. He had a sweaty pimpled face, and his unwashed hair hung in strands around his face. He looked at me and swore, but his voice was so husky that I didn’t quite understand what he was saying. When I didn’t answer he pushed me to the ground swearing loudly. I called out for him to stop, but he took no notice. He opened his mouth and laughed displaying brown, rotting teeth. I called out in dismay and he laughed again, before lifting up his heavily booted foot before sending it crashing down towards my face.
I screamed in terror, and… the scene suddenly disappeared.
I woke up with a start and opened my eyes. I felt dreadful and my damp nightdress told me that I’d been sweating profusely. I took a deep breath and looked around. What on earth was going on? My befuddled brain seemed reluctant to take in the usual immaculate tidiness of my bedroom: for a moment I felt totally confused. The sheets looked as if they had been involved in a battle. I sleep alone, so how could this be? I recalled the moments in my dream when people were tugging at my clothes.
I felt sick.
My mind continued to try to take me back into the nightmare which seemed to have captured my brain, but the more logical part tried its hardest to bring me back to reality. Last night the news was no different to the ones broadcast over the last few weeks, as an expert repeated the words which had become law in my mind.
“We should all stay at home, wash our hands for at least twenty seconds and stay at least two metres away from everyone.”
I had followed this advice to the letter ever since. In fact, my hands were so sore that I had to cover them in cream every couple of hours. But the nightmare from which I had just woken seemed to epitomise the dread of a virus so dangerous that thousands of people had already died. How could I tell anyone about the dreadful things that might happen in the future through my dream, if we didn’t follow these guidelines? Would they believe me, because I too felt scared to take myself back to the horror of that starving, angry crowd? Perhaps it was purely a thought, or something that my brain had manufactured? Could this kind of thing actually happen? I began to tremble again as I began to think about the future.
It was worse than any scary film I’d ever seen, and I’ve seen quite a few over the years, believe me. I used to read a lot of science fiction stories too, but this… this was something else. There were no zombies, or aliens. This was a virus: you can’t see it, you can’t smell it, but it attacks you nevertheless.
Even if I did tell anyone about my nightmare, what would they think? They might think that it was a figment of my rather active imagination, or even worse they may end up laughing at me, saying “Stop being so mellow-dramatic, Anna: it was a dream, only a dream”.
The best and only thing I seem to be able to do, is to forget that it happened, but could I just brush that awful crowd of trembling humanity who were all pleading for help, away from my mind? The whole concept was so shocking that even the thought of my nightmare terrified me. The stable part of my brain was telling me not to be so silly. You are being paranoid it tried to say.
Was I being paranoid, because of a nightmare?
I pushed away my tangled bedding and climbed slowly out of bed. I looked around the room. It looked the same as usual, but the clock stared at me blankly. My heart sank. We must have had a power cut, so perhaps the chaos has already started. My mind was filled with terror, but when I looked at the clock it had started again. I closed my eyes and heaved a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, the act of closing my eyes had a detrimental effect, as my nightmare came charging back into my mind again. My legs felt like jelly, as I lurched towards the window and stared at the curtains. What was waiting for me if I opened them? Would it be the end of our world as we knew it? My hands shook as I pulled the curtains open.
I couldn’t believe what I saw.
It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining out of a clear blue sky, and I opened one of the windows. I could hear all the birds singing their hearts out, and could see a lot of little green leaves on the trees. I could even hear a cuckoo calling in the distance… and my heart stopped thumping. I smiled as I heard a car driving up the road, and two people were walking past the gate, holding hands and laughing, and with that smile, all the dreadful things in my nightmare disappeared too.
Yes, it is a terrible time, but we as a people are brave and purposeful, and we will cope with whatever happens, and just like anyone in this country, I went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea.
*** *** ***
Yes, I will finish THE REFUGE… but I’m still undecided whether to mention COVID 19 in the story, or make it a true work of fiction!