‘What are you lot doing?!!’
It was a stupid question, and Kelly knew it. Day 7 of lockdown, the schools had been closed for weeks, the house was a mess. It wasn’t just a mess, it was chaos on a stick. She daren’t go into the boiler room, for fear of being attacked by clothes protesting that they’d not been washed since Christmas. As for the kitchen, it was a war zone, dirty plates, half opened packets of everything from crisps to bread to chocolate…….!
Chocolate…….CHOCOLATE!!!…….THE LITTLE SODS! The one luxury she’d hid for that one moment of peace, when all this lockdown crap was over, but the little b’s had found it, and gorged themselves without even a thought.
If only her husband, Dan, was here, but super bright Dan, had managed to get himself locked down on the other side of the world. The oil company he worked for was ‘trying’ to get them back but so far he hadn’t been able to set one foot outside his hotel.
So, that left Kelly, an auxiliary nurse at the local hospital, with shifts to do, surrounded by highly stressed colleagues and mother to three of the laziest children on planet Earth 🌍
She found Allie in the living room staring into her iPhone with Catfish on MTV in the background.
‘Allie, could you help clean up a bit. There’s crisps everywhere and that’s from two nights ago……..Allie……….ALLIE!’
‘Why can’t the boys do it….why are you picking on me?’
“God give me strength Allie. If only ONE of you would do SOMETHING!! The place is falling about our ears, I’m having to work extra shifts….you have to do something!!’
Kelly stormed out as Allie shrugged her shoulders and continued to FaceTime her friends. She’s calmed herself by the time she’d reached Kai’s room. Her eldest was 16, which was a godsend as that allowed her to work and be able to leave Allie and Geo under his watch. Having said that, her stomach lurched every time she shut the front door and, even more so, when she slotted the key in on her return. One day she’d returned to the smoke alarm in full pelt and Geo covered in crap after an aborted mission to make slime.
She could hear Kai booming out his music. She opened the bedroom door to a deafening wall of sound.
‘KAI CAN YOU HEAR ME? KAI KAI!!!’
She unplugged his Bluetooth speakers.
‘It was the only way to grab your attention. Look I’m leaving for work in half an hour. I need you to drag your brother and sister to the kitchen and at least try to clean up. I cannot do everything on my own!!’
‘No buts mister…no improvement and your ground…….’
Her words tailed off…….that wasn’t the best threat in a Lockdown. She left Kai staring at her, daggers all but thrown. She crossed the hall to find young Geo staring at his iPad. She stood for more than a minute watching him.
‘Geo….what are you doing? Hellooooooo Earth calling Geo……’
‘I’m on FaceTime mum’
‘But I can’t hear any sound and you’re not speaking either so who are you FaceTiming ?’
Kelly joined him on the bed to see the screen.
‘It’s Ben’s Dad….he’s asleep and he’s snoring’
‘Does he know your friend is videoing him?’
‘What do you mean ‘sometimes’ ? ‘
‘Well, Ben just goes round the house with his iPad and we watch’
‘So you just watch his family who don’t even know they’re on camera?’
‘How long have you been watching them?’
‘since tea time’
‘…b…b..but that’s 2 hours ago!’
‘Look Geo. that’s not right honey. I’m nightshift tonight but I need you to help clean the house please. I need you all to man the lifeboats or we’re going to sink’
‘Mummy, when is this going to end? I want to go to school and see my friends’
‘I know I know….let’s hope for all of us it ends soon’
45 minutes later Kelly arrived at Keymore hospital. She could feel a headache coming on already, her stomach churning as she entered the automatic doors. There was no fear of her turning back, there was no way she was going to let her team, her family or herself down, but this was stress and then some. By the time she was changed and had placed all her new PPE on, most of her team had lined up for their song and dance routine to start their shift. They chose a new song each day and ‘Alway Look on the Bright side of Life’ seemed very appropriate for the current state of people’s lives. Once they’d finished there were no hugs or pats on backs. Social distancing was followed by everyone in the teams throughout the hospital. The lives of patients, the staff, depended on it.
Once in the Ward, Kelly was bombarded by questions from patients. Those that could go home early had been allowed to leave but for most the risks were too great. It didn’t stop most wanting to know everything that was going on. There was little chat with her fellow workers as everyone was full on. Three of the team had already self isolated as a precaution and one member of staff in A&E was on a ventilator. Kelly ploughed on…negative thoughts were not good…..hopefully her kids were safely packed up in their beds and the house was in one piece. By the end of the night shift she was shattered. Hot and tired she opened the car door and wearily drove home.
Normally, she tried to FaceTime Dan but she was so tired she went straight to bed without passing Go. She didn’t even check whether the kids were asleep or even there.
The next day it was 4pm before Allie even noticed that her Mum was sleeping longer than normal.
‘Kai, shouldn’t Mum be up by now….’
‘Dunno, what time is it?’
‘It’s after 4pm’
‘Maybe she’s knackered’
‘Maybe we should check on her – my friend Aisha’s mum wasn’t well last week and she’s in hospital’
‘Give her another hour and we’ll go wake her. I don’t want you cooking dinner again. That mush you made last week was disgusting!’
Allie picked up a pillow and threw it across the bed.
‘You’re a horror – you know that – a horror!!’
5pm came and gone.
‘What if she’s got it?’
‘Don’t say that!!’ Young Geo started crying.
‘One of us has to go in and check’ said Kai
‘Well, you’re the oldest, it has to be you’
‘But, what if we all get it’
‘Kai, the rules are clear, we self isolate, and, if one of us gets worse we call 999’
‘Oh brilliant. We’re all going to get sick and die!!’
‘Oh for godsake, you are just a big waste of space. I’ll go check her’
Ailee strode off towards her Mum’s room.
She creaked open the door. The room was in darkness but for the blue light of the alarm clock.
‘Mum’ she whispered
‘Mum……are you ok?’
She heard a sound.
‘MUM! are you ok???’
‘Ailee….hiya…I’m just feeling shattered…..hot…..and sore’
‘Do you think you have the virus Mum. Please tell me no….please’
‘I’m not sure darling. I just feel so tired’
‘I’ll get you a cup of tea’
Sobbing, she found her two brothers, who for once, were giving their undivided attention.
‘I’m not sure. She says she’s weak, feels tired and a hot’
‘What do you think we should do?’
‘Maybe we could FaceTime Dad and see what he thinks’
‘Ok – let’s try that’
Five minutes later Kai and Allie were on the sofa staring at their iPad screen. Geo was crying in the corner.
‘He must be there. He MUST answer’
No matter how many times they tried there was no answer.
‘What about calling Auntie Gemma?’
‘She’s nearly 80 years old Kai. What’s she going to do that we can’t? The guidelines say to self isolate for 14 days if one or more of us gets it. If any of us get really sick we call 999. So, that’s what we’re going to do. You heard Mum shouting at us. We are horrible to her. That’s why she’s sick. She’s been doing too much. We have to look after her the way she looks after us’
‘But what if she’s really sick’
‘Kai, we stick to the plan’
‘But, we can’t even cook’
‘Get You Tube up – time to start learning’
Allie took water and a cup of tea for her Mum. She was still sleeping but breathing ok. She went downstairs and gathered her brothers together.
‘Ok. Kai and I will take turns every 4hrs checking Mum’s ok. If she doesn’t drink anything within the next 12 hrs we’ll call the NHS hotline. In the meantime Geo, you must keep trying to get Dad online’
The next morning they regrouped in the kitchen.
‘That bread is hard and there’s hardly any toilet roll left’
‘Ok. So Mum took a drink of water at 4am this morning then fell asleep again. We keep the rota going. Kai, you’re going to have to go to the supermarket and get provisions’
‘But we’ve no money and I’m not supposed to leave you two on your own’
‘KAI GROW SOME…… Mum has a Tesco’s app on her phone. You just open the app and the person on the till will scan it. She has the pin written down somewhere. I’ll give you a list’
‘Geo, any joy with Dad?’
‘No. He’s not there. Do you think he’s got it too?’
‘Right. stop all this nonsense. We are going to get through this and Mum and Dad are going to be ok. Right, Geo you’re helping me this morning and Kai……’
‘Why are you still here….get moving!!!’
By midday Kai had returned.
‘A 24 bag of Quavers and 3 pot noodles’
‘But we need toilet rolls and bread Kai not this rubbish’
‘I’m afraid the locusts had devoured everything before I got there. Not a vegetable, not a toilet roll, nothing left. Apart from Quavers and pot noodles.’
Toilet Roll Loci
‘Yep. apparently fighting in the aisles yesterday. It’s like the zombie apocalypse!! By the way what’s that smell?’
‘Follow me Kai and observe. Geo and I have made home made soup’
‘Really….I mean REALLY! How?’
‘Ten minute You Tube video on how to make vegetable soup – job done’
‘Not great but she took some more water this morning. I’m hoping the soup will help her’
‘What a mess. Greedy people, people sick, people dying. No food, no nothing! I read yesterday that some people who’ve got the virus never show symptoms, so unless they test everyone…….’
‘Look Kai, we need to look after ourselves as best we can. Get Mum better and wait for Dad to come home. Then everything will be back to normal’
then the electricity went out………….
An hour later they’d extracted Dad’s camping stove from the garage. Located some torches and candles in case the power didn’t come back on.
‘Thank god Dad’s obsessed with camping or I’d have been on You Tube trying to find out how to light a fire by rubbing some sticks together’
‘For the first time in nearly 48hrs they laughed’
It was Kai’s turn to check on his Mum. He quietly pushed open her bedroom door, walked over to the chair and sat. Lit the candle he’d brought with him and took her hand.
‘I know we’ve been lazy and horrible to you Mum but I promise you we’ll make it to you big time. Please be alright. Young Geo’s even cleaned his bedroom and I had a shower today. Which was good as we’ve no electricity now. We can’t get Dad online and there’s only one toilet roll left. But we do have Quavers, lots of Quavers’
Kai was just about to tell her how much he loved herm when she turned her head towards him and opened her eyes.
‘Kai…..what are you doing here? Where’s your father?’
‘MUM! – MUM! are you ok…how do you feel…..what can I get you? ALLIE COME QUICK!!’
Allie burst through the bedroom door
‘What is it what’s wrong!!!’
Then she saw her Mum smiling.
‘MUM Are you ok?!!’
‘I think so. How long have I been sleeping?’
‘Nearly 2 days!!’
‘Lie still I’ll get you some soup’
‘But you know I don’t like tinned soup’
‘It’s not tinned Mum. It’s real soup!!’
Allie raced downstairs where young Geo was actually cleaning the living room.
‘Geo GEO….it’s Mum she’s awake’
‘Really – is she ok?’
‘I think so…..I’m going to heat some soup for her on the camping stove’
Geo raced up the stairs faster than he’s ever done.
‘Watch Kai, she’s still not well, don’t jump on the be…..’
Kelly grimaced as Geo landed on the side of the bed. He gave her a gentle cuddle to make up for it.
‘We thought you were dead Mum’
‘I’m far from that, but I am sore. Whatever that was it wiped me sideways. Are you guys ok. Any word from Dad?”
‘We lost power and we’ve only one toilet roll left’
Ten minutes later Kelly was sitting up slightly while Allie spoon fed her some soup.
‘You made this yourself??’
‘Yes Mum and I’ve made some stew for tomorrow’
‘I know what’s happened. My real children have been abducted and replaced by aliens’
They laughed then the lights went on again.
Within forty eight Kelly was back on her feet. She took baby steps down the stairs. When she reached the kitchen, the sight that met her nearly caused her to relapse. The place was immaculate, there was food cooking on the stove, the worktops were clear, clean. The whole place was back to when they first moved in.
‘My goodness me. What happened here?’
‘Mum. We will never ever ever let you down again. My phone ran out of juice this morning and I never even bothered charging it again. The boys have cleaned everything, even their rooms. We have the most important thing we need and that’s you….’
Then FaceTime started ringing………………..
‘Lockdown – 43 Holgate Street was written by David Linden AKA @qosfc1919 ©️ Dodo Productions 2020
email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org