Lockdown Life

‘Lockdown life’ creative writing project by 4th Form pupil, Yoon-Jee Nam.

Mouth busy with a crisp apple and ears savouring the quiet, I settled down near the tranquil banks of the merrily chattering stream. My solo ‘exercise’ of the day was this- treating myself to the lunch I packed while trying to ignore the idle chatter that two boys tormented the house with. Despite resembling teddy bears, the boys were as temperamental as two brown bears being awoken from hibernation.

It had taken me a while to become accustomed to such noise since it had become compulsory to stay indoors as much as possible. It was a test of my patience, as well as my resilience to try to entertain two, who didn’t understand why they were only allowed outside once a day. Regardless of my simplified words, the boys remained adamant on the theory that everyone was hiding from an alien invasion. When I eventually agreed to this after my fourth time drawing the COVID-19 virus with fangs, the two giggled before announcing earnestly that aliens didn’t bother them, and they were willing to risk meeting what the rest of the, “scaredy-cats,” of the neighbourhood were hiding from. This was the point where I stood, determinedly packed my lunchbox and left the house to escape the ridicule. Having only stayed at my aunt’s house for nine days, it took me a while to find somewhere suitable nearby to eat my carelessly packed food – two apples, some raisins, a bread roll, all of which were slightly squashed by some bottled water.

The trees shading me were green parasols that carried the wind’s words like Hermes delivering messages. Solitary clouds danced away into the distance in the stretch of vibrant blue sky, which ended only as it greeted the bed of luscious grass. I assumed it was luscious only because there was a herd of cows whose heads would not rise from it, not because I had tasted it. I wasn’t going that insane yet.

Despite this, it was undeniable that I missed home more than ever. My aunt had offered to care for me to protect mother. Her progressive asthma made her part of the vulnerable who had to avoid contact with anyone at risk of carrying the virus. Even before school had closed, I was not to enter my own home, distancing myself from my parents. With my brother abroad, I was staying with my aunt. Vivacious as she was, it was difficult to enjoy her company as she juggled: me, her sons, the house and her demanding job, in her hands. In the periods of time when we were alone (typically after eight in the evening when we were comfortably sat in front of the television), my aunt’s patience and calmness poured out of her, a quality I admired in her, as it contrasted so heavily from the initial representation of a ferociously independent businesswoman. However, these spurts of the two of us talking were rare, as she was occupied most of the time.

I wondered, in those blank, silent moments like now, how strenuous each day must be for her when she was not working from home. Guilt spread around me, frost on a window, as I opened my water bottle and sipped from it, remembering that I had left her alone in the house with my cousins. Shaking the guilt off, I reminded myself that I had been permitted to go out for lunch today.

That was when it hit me.

Scrambling up at lightning speed, checking my phone and internally screaming, I stuffed everything into the lunchbox and pelted across the field. Jumping over the gate, sprinting down the lane and turning to my aunt’s house, I begged I was not too late for my online lesson. My aunt looked inquisitively at me, folding clothes, as I lurched into the hall and darted into the study. She probably questioned me, but I had no time to listen or reply. Typing in both Meeting ID and password while thanking my Computing teacher for teaching us touch-typing, I panted,

“I am so sorry I’m late,” to my laptop.

My teacher sighed but continued with the lesson.

Relief washing over me, I scribbled down the work hastily.

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