They didn’t tell you when you trustingly submitted to a covid test that you’d have to quarantine for fourteen days even if you tested negative.
They didn’t tell you the queues would be so long, could take up to ten hours to be tested, and that there were no toilet facilities available, no hot dog stands
And they certainly didn’t tell you a fortnight in quarantine by yourself would be as gruelling, as solipsistic as a fortnight in solitary in a maximum security prison — and that you never even get to see your jailer
There is no training for this.
And anyway you’ve only got eight more days of madness to look forward to, so it isn’t all bad
Until you realize at the very end, your state’s in hard lockdown for at least a week so you have to go through it all over again
They were in a little cottage out the back with nothing to write about on a dark and stormy night. Delia, a tall, strapping, Scandinavian woman, with long greyish blond hair down to her waist, had just given them, a small group of seniors, fifteen minutes silent writing during the class on short story writing. You should be able to come up with something, she said,almost despairing of her hopelessly floundering flock. This was the second session and still not a word had been written. The thunder boomed and lightning flashed helpfully as if to provide prompts. Delia paced up and down out the front working herself into a froth.
Just then, as if on cue, the door flew open, and a drug-addled man with straggly blond hair and black tank top stormed in, neck and arms swathed in devil tatts, shouting obscenities in a strange guttural language, throwing chairs around the room thankfully with no one in them, and then with his anger quenched, stormed out again. Where’s Security when you need them, fumed D who immediately phoned the police. Suddenly everyone started furiously writing. Delia could not stop them.
I’m getting my haircut. I see it all in the mirror.
Simon’s his usual self: brash, bold, bloody stupid, He lisps some errant remark.
Alec drops what he’s doing, reaches for the fly swatter and chases Simon down the street.
It’s like a well rehearsed routine.
A month later I go back.. Simon doesn’t look so good. His eyes are puffy, his face a little swollen, his hare lip is bleeding.
What happened? George says, one of the assistants. Your girl friend beat you up again?
Simon blubbers out an obscenity. Alec reaches for the fly swatter and the chase is on again.
Simon is a sad sack, the world’s punching bag but he does have one trick up his sleeve. His dad is Lord Mayor of Mars. No one else can claim that.
How he got there long before Elon Musk is not explained but Simon basks in his glory. On Mars International Day — yes, there is one —Simon comes in, wearing his red skivvy and breaks into the Mars National anthem till he is chased out by Alec’s furious flyswatter.
One day Simon slumps in. Dad is not well. Dad needs Simon to take over. How will he get there? Everyone knows by now that Simon has a rocket ship tucked in a corner of his bedroom at the ready. But Simon as Lord Mayor? Would those Martians treat him seriously?
Simon doesn’t appear the next month nor the one after that.