First I select fire hydrants from the blurred photos on my screen. Tick, tick, tick.
I couldn’t have found all of them, because another page, with traffic lights, appears. I do my best. Click on next.
Wrong. Now it’s flyovers. One of them looks half-finished, abandoned.
Or maybe that wasn’t a flyover, because a new on-screen message is telling me I’ve failed to confirm my humanity, am locked out. Is another job search newsletter really what I need? I decide no. All it does is raise my anxiety – or go straight to spam.
I turn the screen black, put on my jacket, gardening gloves. The smell of last night’s rain is in the air, sweet after the artificial heat of the kitchen.
Eight weeks isolation or is it nine. I’ve stopped counting. Some days I forget to check in on the app – have you had a COVID19 test? No. Yes, I am feeling perfectly normal, if this is what the new normal is.
Yesterday the news was full of a man found dead in his home after many lifeless days. I try not to think of my phone, the empty record of calls made and received. Better to dig, though what I’ve got to plant…. I can’t bring myself to get rid of the dandelions, only flowers in the wrong location.
I’m heaving out great spades of dark when something makes me look up, behind the greenhouse, where the dead tree lies. Two eyes and the beauty of a face watching me.
It’s just the two of us, locked in, looking at each other. I am rooted, feel the earth under my boots in a way I’ve never known before. I’m not even blinking, but my heart is quickening, mouth turned dry.
The fox yawns, rises, padding off through the broken fence into the overgrown no man’s land.
My steps are soft, steady, until I reach the pile of leaves, stretch out my hand. Then I’m on my knees, a sigh escaping as I place my cheek, a perfect fit, into the still-warm hollow.