Running out of Time by Kiara Ash

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This piece explores the nuances and emotions of a life in social isolation due to Covid-19 quarantine, in particular feelings of loneliness and lack of purpose.

It’s 9:51pm on Wednesday the something of July. I had to think for a moment. Is it Thursday? Friday? But then I realise it’s still Wednesday. I can’t sleep again. My brain is a constant stream of thoughts, littered with concerns and anxieties. It’s Niagara Falls in here. My partner is fast asleep next to me, snoring peacefully away, and I wish I could be like that.

I have to be up in eight hours.

When I woke up this morning, and Kevin had left for his shift at the hospital, I rubbed my eyes and sat in bed. Stared at the wall for a while. Wondered whether I was becoming depressed. I think maybe I am, maybe I am already. Is this what depression feels like? This endless slug through wasted days of sitting around and watching my sunflowers crinkle and warp. I’m not exactly a fan of it.

Eventually I got up. Moved onto the kitchen table, had breakfast and changed one wall for another. I wish I could go outside, could call up some friends and go for brunch. Oh how I miss brunch. I think about my younger brother, still living at home with my parents. I think about the distaste in his face and on his tongue as drawls out the word with disgust: C–O–R–O–N–A.

Six hours until I have to get up.

He doesn’t get it. He’s only six, of course he doesn’t get it. Even grown adults don’t. His misunderstanding is almost humorous. He asked me to come home and stay with him, and I said I could not leave Kevin. Therefore he hopes Kevin catches corona-virus so I will come home. It’s rough, but funny. The poor kid. No school, no friends, and way too much TV.

Isn’t it ridiculous that Chase, the talking police–dog in that show ‘Paw Patrol’ that he watches, was attacked by Black Lives Matter Protestors? You can’t just euthanise a dog on a kids show, that’s bloody traumatising. It’s bad enough that people are out risking their lives at the moment for basic human rights. But Chase? Too far.

Five hours.

I feel like sleep is within my grasp now. I close my eyes and think about all those sleep meditations. Breathe in, breathe out. Let the body relax the mind. At least I did some cleaning today. Scrubbed out the grout between the tiles in the dining room. Would never have done that before — even though I probably should have. Wait — I cannot be thinking about cleaning right now, about the bathroom that is still to go and the never–ending laundry. And I cannot be using the word ‘cannot’. I can just picture an editor looking at me, crinkling her nose and telling me it’s too formal, people don’t talk like that. Too bad I do.

What did I do after the eating and the cleaning and the nutritious lunch of chocolate and honey–soy–chicken–chips? One of the girls I work with told me she googled whether it was possible she is getting stupider. Honestly I feel like I can relate. Oh wait, that’s right, I baked. Big batch of brownie that I almost ruined because I messed up the ingredient portions. I can’t do anymore baking for a little while, I’ve still got to eat my way through those scones I made. Even though they are probably hard as a rock now.

Four hours.

I think I drifted off there for a second. And then I realised that I forgot to watch the news today. I suppose it doesn’t matter that I don’t know how many cases there is. It shouldn’t prevent me sleeping. There will always be tomorrow. But maybe, maybe I’ll just check my phone real quick. The government updates website is saved onto my phone’s internet browser anyway. All I will need to do is refresh.

Three hours.

I shouldn’t have looked at my phone. Now I don’t want to look at my bank account. What is it about being stuck inside that makes me so susceptible to online shopping advertisements? I’ve already spent too much of my limited pay check on surgical masks. Now I’m spending what’s rest of it on reusable masks. It’s better for the environment, I tell myself. But I just can’t rationalise that I spent thirty dollars on one mask simply because it had a cute sloth on it.

Two hours.

One hour.

I look up and the window is completely covered in condensation. If Kevin was awake right now I would tell him he’s too hot and steamy. Stop fogging up the window babe! Wait, it’s lighter outside than I remember. Thank the heavens, I must have fallen asleep at some point. Shame I woke up again though.

I wonder what I should do today. I still have the unopened box of art supplies that I ordered online. I told myself I was going to learn how to paint from random YouTube tutorials, but it’s still sitting there untouched. Should probably do something with it. Oh crud. My plants! When did I water them last? It’s a good thing I don’t have kids.

BZZZZ! BZZZZ!

Kevin’s alarm is going off. His hand snakes its way out of the bed and quickly snoozes it as he chooses to ignore the time. But it’s time for us to get up!

Oh.

I don’t actually have to get up.

I don’t actually have anything I need to do.

But that’s good, isn’t it? If all I need to do is kiss Kevin goodbye, then I can stretch myself out in the bed, and go back to sleep. Sleep for a bit longer this time. I suppose I’m lucky I don’t have to get up. I suppose quarantine can actually be a good thing. That’s a joke, even if it isn’t funny. Lock–down sucks. But at least I can pass the time in bed. Hibernating. It is winter after all.

What an existence.