Dispatches from Solitary

Day 4

Over the back fence, Neil is stacking enormous cardboard boxes on his verandah. Large black letters labelled “Acme Quarantine Company”. Through the bifold doors of his new extension I have a panoramic view of more boxes and no furniture. It’s late and dark but his house blares with electricity as he unpacks. Dishes accumulate in my sink. I should wash them.

Day 5

More boxes on Neil’s verandah and now on his lawn. He appears to be constructing something quite big. I can see long metal struts laid out on the floor in the back room, and a chair-like thing in play colours, bright and unapologetic. He’s at it day and night. More dishes.

Day 6

Neil’s building a ferris wheel! It must be awkward for him, with those yellow shoes on, shoes bigger than flippers. I can see him clearly because the red nose in the middle of his pale painted face has a flashing light. The ferris wheel is high. Its top disappears from view into some other realm. Where did he find the extra space? Did he order boxes of extra space from the Acme Quarantine Company?

Day 7

I’ve been hearing whoops and hollers from Neil’s house all day. The ferris wheel came with a calliope, and a cacophony of tinny organ music spreads through the neighbourhood. It competes with his whoops and hollers as he travels in circles, disappearing from view into the mysterious realm and then falling towards the floor to repeat. Neil has an endless supply of motivation.

Time for bed, after I water the wilting pot plant on my book shelf.

(Written as a response to the various things people are doing to keep themselves occupied and in good spirits during isolation. Some of us are better at it than others.)

– Beth Kirkland

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