Lockdown Flash Fiction


So Are the Days

Her breath sneaks out of the top of the mask and fogs up her reading glasses. She moulds the metal strip a little tighter over the bridge of her nose. The pubs are closed again. No income. Still casual after all these years. Another extension of lockdown is expected to be announced at 11am.

I’ll have to get online and apply for a payment.

At the shopping centre a man and his son are standing outside the pharmacy. Waiting? The father wears a football jersey and a long thin plait of hair runs down his back. He is mock fighting with his son. The boy jumps in trying to score a tap on his dad, then jumps back to avoid being slapped. The boy is not wearing a mask, neither is the father. Where is security?

Today, it is only ‘him’ she sees defying the health orders. Lockdowns are no longer novel. Compliance is up. Though, there are some who let their masks slip down below the nose. Mouth breathers?

Shopping is essential. Yoga isn’t. She is missing yoga.

Yesterday, she laid out the mat at home and set up the old CD player. Sissy, her nine-year-old daughter, looked at the strange machine. ‘This is how we used to play music,’ she explained without having to be asked. ‘Look. Here.’ She pulled a disc out from the zip-up denim covered pouch. ‘This is your CD, The Wiggles. Remember?’

I remember the Wiggles. I don’t remember CDs though. I thought music used to be played on record players, like the one Cherry has.’

The conversation went on, and on. She was sitting in Dandasana, Sissy firing questions.

CD stands for compact disc. Before CDs there were cassette tapes. C60 stands for a blank cassette tape that has sixty minutes of recording space on which one could make a mixed tape of your favourite songs from your record collection. There were C90s as well. Yes, a mixed tape is like a playlist on Spotify. Records are made of vinyl. LP stands for long playing record, EP, extended play. Singles were called 45s. RPM stands for revolutions per minute. Records came in seventy-eight, forty-five and thirty-three-and-a-third RPM.

She had no idea what MP3 stands for, but somehow could recall that HMV stood for His Masters Voice and the logo had a dog and a gramophone. When Sissy asked what year gramophones were invented, she sent her off to do her own research.

She pressed play. The CD started with the ring of a Tingsha bell. ‘Starting by sitting,’ said the calm voice of the yoga teacher. Then the CD stuck. Looping, grating. She hit stop. By this stage her hamstrings had had a good stretch so she got up and wrote, ‘A Short History of Recorded Music’ on Sissy’s Year 5 HBL register.

HBL stands for home based learning.

That was yesterday. Tomorrow, Centrelink.

Today, she walks past the man without a mask and pushes her trolley into Aldi.