This is the final part of a fiction serial, in 810 words.
They kept stopping the lockdowns, if only briefly. But that made little difference to me, as my dad was still wary of coming over, and Barbara didn’t bother to open the shop, only to close it again the next time. And the day centre decided to stay closed until such time as there was a vaccine, and everyone was safe.
I sometimes wondered about those essential workers who had children who went there. Other schools stayed open to provide education for the kids of those essential workers, but what about so-called special schools, and places like Leah’s?
There was no point me bothering to find out, as I had no job that was remotely essential, and I was fit and well enough to look after my own daughter. But I did have to deal with the fact that Leah was definitely too fat. Walking around the garden or up and down the street outside wasn’t going to cut it, so I started to drive a few miles to the Country Park, where I made Leah walk with me around the easy circuit that was only three miles in a circle back to the car.
Other walkers gave me a wide berth when they saw me leading Leah on her reins, so unwanted contact was not an issue. On days when the weather was decent, I would take our lunch, and then do the easy circuit again after we had eaten. The exercise was good for me too, even though I hadn’t put on an ounce. But even that soon became boring, so I decided to look for somewhere different.
We were not supposed to be going anywhere more than five miles from home, according to the new rules, but I had always reckoned my chance of getting stopped was slim, and I would try to use Leah as an excuse if it ever happened. So I found a place online, twenty miles east. It was a nice spot, with a picnic area next to a lake, and a woodland walk with a good path. My satnav had stopped working, and I had no idea why. But I wasn’t about to fork out for a new one, not as long as I didn’t need it for work.
I checked the route on my laptop, and it seemed straightforward enough. And it was. I found it easily, and had a nice few hours wandering around the lake including a picnic lunch on one of the tables provided. Nobody checked on me, or asked me why I was there. But on the way home, I had to go around a one-way system that I was sure wasn’t there earlier. I got hopelessly lost, and without realsing it, ended up driving the wrong way along a one-way street.
But then you already know that, Richard. Because that’s how we met.
When I saw the flashing blue lights in front of me, it took me a moment to realise it was a police motorcycle. Luckily, I managed to brake without crashing into you. Then you got off and walked over to my window, telling me what I had done. I just let it all out. Sobbing like some grieving widow, convinced I was going to lose my licence and never be able to drive again.
You were so kind. Calming me down until I was able to drive, and letting me off with a warning after taking down all my details. You didn’t even give me a fine for being so far away from home, and however much I thanked you, it wasn’t enough. You even let me follow you onto the right road, your lights flashing to warn other motorists. But the icing on the cake was when you rang me at home the next day, to make sure Leah and me were okay.
Giving you my email address and asking you to keep in touch seemed very forward. But what the hell, we were looking at a second year of lockdowns, and I was past caring. Then you sent me an email, so I had yours to reply to. I promised to tell you my story, and what had led me to that afternoon driving up a one way street the wrong way.
And that’s what I have been doing, all this time. Laying it all out, truthfully and sincerely, in the hope that we can finally meet when this is all over.
Still, it would be nice if you replied occasionally. I know you are busy of course. After all, you are one of those essential employees. I love being able to write to you and tell you stuff, and I have saved every email. It’s become a journal of my life, I suppose. I just hope you are reading them all.
You are reading them aren’t you, Richard?