All I want to do is write. I do not feel like there is anything else for me to do anymore. If it is all the same to you, then I will stare at the heavens and mourn all the goodness that died with my past. Allow me the smallest pleasure of sitting down at the end of the day and putting my fingers to keys, the bottles of red wine to my lips. In the middle of lunch I took a bite out of the inside of my mouth and the blood appeared and was dabbed with a napkin; the paper napkin came apart to the wound, clung to it, did not want to go home; I picked the paper out of my mouth, wet with spit and blood. My niece spits on her finger and draws on the window. She knows it is a crime – of sorts – so she draws my attention first, and then she draws on the glass with her saliva. She makes sure there is lots of spit on her finger, a fleshy little quill of knuckle and soft bone poking out irregular shapes and all the while spit dribbling out her mouth as she laughs and I laugh, too. ‘You little shit,’ I tell her, pushing her onto the floor. She laughs, spits on her finger and continues. Sometimes she paints hummus on the window. Other times she will drop hummus on the floor then put her bare feet in it. My mother leaves the spit and the hummus on the window until the windowcleaner arrives, it could be a few days or a few weeks, but my niece’s shit art remains on display. The windowcleaner is called Brad, he leaves behind him a trail of donkeys with no hind legs. His cheeks are rosy, and he smells of detergent and sweat. He is nice enough, although I do my best to avoid conversation with him, either nervously leaving the room when he enters or by staring at him until he moves away and it is safe for me to go outside for a smoke. Someone who smokes is a best friend to a chatterbox; they realise they have you by the balls, you cannot leave until you have smoked up and any extended contribution to the conversation the smoker makes will inevitably be interrupted by a draw, leaving the chatterbox to resume their inane nattering. Yes, chatterboxes love a smoker. There is a chatterbox at work who smokes, and he will talk at me even when I have my headphones in and, after twenty seconds or so, I succumb and remove them, begging my pardon. Everyone else in the family is very fond of Brad. I thought the coast was clear when I went for a smoke but then he appeared and I quickly withdrew my phone and sunk my attention into it, trying to impersonate the way I have seen business people stare at their phones, as though what they stare at is of the highest importance and should not, under any circumstances, be interrupted. In fact, I was actually attempting chess puzzles and attempting to bring my rating above 1200, coming tantalisingly close and then failing, as I had done many times before. For no reason other than to appear engaged, I opened the covid app from the national health service. Straight away the thing sprung into life and flashed at me. Self-isolate for 7 days, it told me. The app had detected I had been in contact with someone who has coronavirus. It told me to please stay at home and self-isolate to keep myself and others safe.
The app had been sleeping for three days, apparently, and only now taken it upon itself to notify me. As instructed, I informed work (preventing me from attending site this coming Thursday) and Molly informed me that H—g in the office had tested positive for coronavirus at the weekend. My relationship with H—g is very strange, to say the least. He is one of those people I will always praise most sincerely behind their back – and I seldom praise anyone – but, to his face, I will poke fun at him, while he remains one of the very, very few in the office I will approach with a question. It occurred to me that he was the first person to test positive who I truly liked and if anything should happen to him it would upset me greatly. I sent him a message—heard you tested positive. hope you’re okay, geez. He responded immediately; I could hear his voice and picture him closing his eyes as he smugly delivered a declaration and it irritated me tremendously; I smiled. He seemed okay. I hoped he would be okay. The notification on my phone excited me somewhat, as though I were in a nightclub and had brushed shoulders with a pop star or famous actor, or a ridiculous feeling that I was a part of something. And now my afternoon walk was more appealing than it had been before. The thought that I could not leave the house filled me with terror. Donning a mask, I left in my raincoat. A sense of paranoia overcame me, even though for the past three days I should have been isolating, despite visiting the off-license and a restaurant (while wearing a mask, admittedly). It was cold and the cold wind blew in underneath the mask as the perspiration collected and I was glad to be out. I had much work to do when I got back, but at that moment I was enjoying the walk. I seem to have lost my friends. N—n is the only one still around and I had already made two phonecalls to him today. People let me down but N—n never seemed to. It was unusual, I was not sure what to make of it. The perpetual sadness arose within me and I choked it down. Beneath my mask I began to laugh and noticed that nobody could see me doing so. It made me laugh more and more until I felt the weight of tears on my eyelids. An old man was sitting on a park bench next to his mobility scooter. He drank from a can of beer and looked out at the sea. I wished Brad was there to talk to him, or maybe the old man did not want to talk to anyone. All I want to do is write. I have sat down this evening without a thing to say and yet here I am eleven-hundred words and some little joy later. I thought I smelled pizza earlier, next to the coffee machine and vitamin tablets. It made me sad. When pizza, Dylan and cardamom make you feel sad, life is no fun at all. In the depths of it all, I remembered a record I have in my flat. Of course, I have not listened to the record since before the middle of march. I found it on y—t—e and played it, then I wept before the dark garden, till my brother entered the room and I wiped my face away. Six days of isolation to go, he says.