France is in lockdown. We walk, we cook, we garden. The weather is warm and the signs of spring, relentless. Covid 19 has no effect on the magnolia blossom or the daisies pushing through the grass, or even the cuckoo’s call, echoing from the woods.
Occasionally we shop. Yet any trip out requires the correct piece of paper and the experience is coloured by an underlying anxiety. Gary chops wood, splits kindling, mows the land. I edit Walking Alone, immersing myself in the fictional relationship of David and Helen.
I read and re-read a section of text. Something is wrong. They are visiting a bar, chatting with other walkers. David shakes someone’s hand. Helen shares a chocolate bar. I stop reading. This isn’t allowed. They should be indoors, in lockdown. Have they filled in the paperwork, noted the time they left the house and will David sanitise his hands after such close contact? My pulse races.
Within a moment, I snap out of the imaginary world, where life is normal and the unspoken rules for living have not changed. I smile at the way my thoughts were running and consider that my novel’s contemporary setting was, not long ago, a shared reality.
As it stands, it is the fiction that remains normal as we get used to our strange, dystopian narrative.
I return to the task of editing and escape with some relief.