The plate glass doors of the supermarket whoosh to and fro for masked shoppers with their trolleys. On the other side Pat and Irma sit on a row of hard airport-style seats, shuddering with each waft of cold air. At 87 and 92 and too infirm to take a socially distanced walk in the park, they clutch take-away teas in paper cups with labels still dangling on their strings and lids that shunt spills of tea down their fronts. As they stand, the doors move inhospitably to usher them out.

“See you here next week then,” they say.

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Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
1 year ago

The uncertainties of an elderly couple aspiring to enjoy a quality of life during the coronavirus pandemic is brilliantly portrayed in the microcosm of the fiction. Excellent!

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
Reply to  Susan Dawson
1 year ago

You’re welcome!

1 year ago

Susan, this is beautifully written, with a photographer’s eye for little details – like the hard seats, the strings dangling from teabags – and the writer’s depth of understanding and compassion. For some reason, every time I re-read the story, I hear John and Paul singing, “Ah, look at all the lonely people” and it almost makes me cry. Well done.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
1 year ago

How many Pat and Irmas are out there? They probably don’t even enjoy those paper cups of tea, just the human companionship. This is the worst of times for the elderly. You describe the setting so well Susan, I could feel that rush of cold air each time the doors opene. At least those teas provided some warmth. A story that hits home and a hope for better times.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

That was sad, Susan. You portrayed the effect of this pandemic so well. Good write again, Susan.

Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse(@marianna-pieterse)
1 year ago

Susan, you reminded me again of how this pandemic is affecting the elderly. It is sad to think that the elderly are even more confined to their places of residence than we are; and that something as simple as a paper cup of tea and a few minutes with a friend is something they look forward to as a break away from what has become the mundane.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
1 year ago

I agree with Fuji that you have found some great details that very well capture and describe the dystopian ambiance that the two ladies find themselves in. Everything around them seems hostile and cold, except for their companionship. A powerful picture!

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

Hello Susan, I wonder how many people have passed Pat and Irma, and not given a second thought, and yet there is a story here. Well observed in all the details Susan, you added the human touch.

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