Today's Calls, Part 2: on calls and window visits.

from Today's Calls: Pandemic Pieces on BBC Radio Devon by Kimwei

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She calls and tells me that her world is shrinking, that at the beginning of lockdown her world was huge - there were so many people in it, all living the same indoor life, the common ground of isolation a palpable bond. But now fewer people are in, fewer people are wanting to call. Instead they are out and about and she is forgotten, invisible and alone.

I call at the window and he is the first to answer. I see his grey beard peek out from the first floor and his bright eyes blink in the sunlight to find me standing below. He tells me he barely leaves the house, even to sit in the garden.
“I thought you said you’d rather die?” I remark, recalling his adamant refusal when he first got the letter. He rubs his beard with his hand and then draws it in a circle over his whole face.
“Turns out there’s a whole household of people who would rather I didn’t.”
As if on cue, his wife appears from the ground floor window and holds up the cat for me to wave to. Their teenage girl opens her bedroom window and pokes herself out. Together they look like an advent calendar.
“Where are the zombies?” the girl demands “the city is so empty that I keep expecting zombies.”

He calls and tells me that he’s fine, over and over: “I’m fine” he says, but then he tells me that his family is in Uganda and that lockdown there is brutal with no way getting money, getting food, and that he cannot help but feel guilty for being lucky, healthy and safe, getting furlough and supermarket deliveries when he would rather be able to teleport home.

I call at her window because it is her birthday and I have been invited to a window party. I sit in the garden on my foldable chair, being passed cake through that hole in the wall as though it is a serving hatch. I pass a gift back, sterilised of course, a new teapot for this mad hatter’s world, and watch her place it on her mantle piece.
We play charades - it’s the only thing to do.
“Film and a book” I mime “3 words”.
“Alice in Wonderland?” she asks
“How did you guess it from that?” I exclaim.
“Something in the air I suppose,” she answers simply “nothing quite feels real these days.”

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