This isn’t what I meant to write, an obituary, an epitaph, to the café in my town that has become a victim of lockdown. It is a small tragedy amongst the many far worse but it is a loss. It will have affected people with whom I’d become acquainted, the baristas who knew my regular order, people who I’d had those small conversations which meant there was always someone to say ‘Hi’, to feel a warm glow that they were there with you. Each one would sit in their favourite seat as I was hogging a table by one window, observing, writing and being infused by a good cup of coffee.
The story, ‘Love in the Time of Lockdown’, I’m writing as a companion piece to two others which all feature the pandemic in a light hearted way, recording the anomalies of how people have interpreted or ignored the ‘guidelines’. Each began inspired by an opening paragraph I’d written some time ago as a starter, something to prod me into writing.
‘It was louder than I’d imagined; the thud as the body hit the pavement. No longer human, merely a lifeless bundle of clothes.’
I begin with an older resident disturbed by that sound in a block of flats, resolved to find out who has committed the ‘crime’. The second story features a mother and daughter closeted in an uneasy relationship when the former is believed to be on her death bed, the situation made worse by the arrival of a pack of friends. ‘Love in the Time of Lockdown’ features my favourite café, the one that’s just closed. A girl, a barista in a café, or as if in this café, has come to live in a bedsit attached to her grandmother’s flat close by. There is again a body but there is also love, love between Marie and Gran, and the burgeoning love of both of them for Matt.
Tracking the lockdown
The phases of the lockdown are recorded as they have been in real life. Whereas the first story is set on one day in April 2020, the original lockdown, ‘The Mother’ features October when there were distinct rules of who should meet inside plus other impositions which many found easy to flout. My café story has taken me from July 2020 to pre Christmas where I thought I would stop; a short novella or long short story.
I cannot finish just yet, though, nothing is resolved. I am thinking it has to carry on until we are free or freer; maybe April? However I will not write from the feeling of the loss I am experiencing. I will pretend that it was another café which folded, the licence of an author to say;
all characters in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, is purely coincidental including, coffee shops.