The virus left few untouched in the country of V. The lockdown was so extreme that some protesters died after being shot by police. It was even rumoured that the police were starting to take pleasure in the killing, such as the young officer said to have used a bayonet to stab an old man with mental health problems multiple times.

I felt trapped in that flat where I was staying with my fiancée and her family. It was shocking how careless they were, not bothering to wash their hands, and greeting visitors, who weren’t supposed to be visiting, with a kiss on each cheek. Moreover, I could sense their disapproval of my foreignness beneath the deferential way they treated me because they thought I had more money than them. 

When I heard that the borders would soon be closed, I decided to take the night train out. Making my way on foot to the station through dark, deserted streets, I was surprised to see a café on a corner full of old men sitting in threes and fours at small round tables. In an island of light, they were all silently eating the same dish of fish and chips and mushy peas, a look of radiant, almost mystical joy in their eyes. 

So, they have fish and chips here too, I thought, and stopped to stare until I remembered I had a train to catch.


 © Ian Seed 2020

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