Lockdown Stories

Lockdown Stories: Beginnings by Lallie Davis

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“This is just the beginning of a story, I have started it and I’d love for someone else to write the next chapter.  If you do, please include the link to this part in your submission, so we can make it clear that your contribution is part of the same story.”


It was the beginning of another unremarkable day, when Julian woke up one Wednesday in March. He shook the sleep out of his head and his muscles and headed to the shower.  What day it actually was, Julian wasn’t sure.  The days had blended together lately – the sun came up and went down again later, the weather had been mostly glorious, he had eaten and he had slept – but nothing differentiated the days any more.  When lockdown started, he had been quietly excited by free time and space to think about more than his busy day job.  But now, the supposed freedom was starting to pall. He missed friends and going to the pub, he missed having a routine and being needed, he even missed his 40-minute commute to work.  Now lockdown was becoming a weight on his shoulders that gently pressed on him, in the shower, digging in the garden, and when out for his daily walk.  It felt like a kind of fog.  A fog made up of uncertainty, media reports, unhelpful commentary, statistics on the sick, the dying the dead.  Despite all of this, it still felt so unreal.  He was acutely aware of the bigger picture; the work of the NHS, the plight of the vulnerable and the decline of the economy, but stuck inside with no way to help, that all felt so far away.

Pouring himself a strong morning coffee, Julian surveyed his supplies.  He had enough food for a few more days and even some flour left over, perhaps he would make bread.  He spooned out food for Mungo (short for Mungojerrie, but invariable referred to as Mungo, because it suited him better) and received a few head-butts before the big, grey cat settled to his breakfast.

Julian consulted the calendar, crossing off another day in lockdown, he found it was a Wednesday.  The discovery didn’t help him much.

What next, thought Julian, running his hand through his unruly (and now rather long) hair…

He had cleaned the house yesterday – it was a small cottage and didn’t need cleaning again.  He’d finished his book last night, there were more to read, but he didn’t feel like reading.  He’d run out of materials for the shelves he was building and would have to wait to get some more.  This week he just didn’t have the motivation for anything.  He felt that he should be using this free time well, but somehow couldn’t settle to anything more interesting than Netflix and the occasional book.

Julian picked up his phone and started reading the reams of messages on Whatsapp – lots of memes, funny posts and pictures of children being entertained and home-schooled in various ways (Blue Planet featured a lot!) stared back at him.  He went to open Facebook and thought better of it. He went to open a News app and thought better of it – there was too much information out there and too many crackpot theories, and way too many self-appointed experts making unhelpful suggestions.  It was best not to read it all.

Perhaps he should call a friend.  But most of his friends were still working – going backwards and forwards to London as key workers, or Doctors and nurses at the local hospital.  He’d spoken to his parents last night, so calling them again seemed unnecessary, what would they have to say – it’s not like anything was happening any way.  Instead Julian tapped out a few messages to friends, checking in, asking if they were ok and if any one needed anything, anything at all (that he could do from home, or on his allotted daily hour walking).  Julian sighed, dropped his phone back onto the table and stared into space, frustratedly flexing his muscles and feet under the table.

Mungo, who had been looking for a cosy lap to sit on, decided that Julian’s fidgeting was just too uncomfortable and stalked off in search of a better nap location.  I’m even boring my cat, thought Julian, this has got to stop.  I need a project, a plan…

Julian had clapped on his doorstep for the nurses and the carers, he had enjoyed the creative challenges people had posted online and he loved seeing the rainbows in people’s windows when he went our walking or running.  He had thought about making one himself, but never quite got round to it. He was very aware that he lived in an area with lots of older people, as well as families, and it slowly dawned on him that he’d like to do something that brought a bit of joy and connection to their lives.  But what, that was the question.  And what could he do that wouldn’t expose anyone to harm from the virus?

By now it was 10am and Julian decided it was time for his daily walk, so he picked up a jacket, his headphones and his sunglasses, bade Mungo to ‘be good’ (unlikely, he thought), and headed out into the sunshine.  Julian walked down his tiny garden path and turned left onto the road. He passed some neighbours on the far side of the road and shouted ‘hello’ as they passed, further on he met a friend and they chatted for a few minutes standing 2 metres a part.

Julian passed several houses with rainbows in the window, which made him smile and one with a whole art gallery taking up the front bay.  Further long his route he found some children had drawn a giant butterfly on the ground in coloured chalk with a message inviting others to add to their picture – that’s a thought, he thought, a tiny seed of an idea beginning to grow.

Julian kept walking round his neighbourhood and into the park, the sun shone and there were other people out enjoying the balmy weather too.  Although he was enjoying the fresh air and the relative freedom of being outside, Julian wasn’t really paying attention, he’d even stopped listening to the music bouncing out of the headphones into his ear canals.  He was thinking.  He definitely had an idea.  An idea for how to connect his community, an idea that was safe and that lots of people could take part in, an idea that would be amazing if he could just work out how to pull it off.  He just needed a bit of help and to gather some materials.  He sent out a few urgent messages to friends, hoping they would see the brilliance of his idea.

A while later, after cutting his walk a little shorter than usual, Julian burst back into his cottage, waking Mungo from a deep nap.  He went to the cupboard under the stairs and pulled everything out, picking out certain things, he went to the attic and collected objects from there too, and he went to the shed returning with wood, nails and a hammer.  When he had a big pile of things around him, he settled down to make some big colourful posters, which said…


Now it’s your turn, can you pick up the story and take Julian and Mungo on an adventure?

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