This story by KE Fleming is a finalist in the 2020 non-fiction writing competition, Alone in the Time of Covid-19
Monday: Doggy-paddle through the usual flood of weekend emails
Tuesday: Finalise draft for weekly e-newsletter
Wednesday: Send out, remember to thank all the contributors!!!
Thursday: Schedule social posts for the weekend
Double check schedule,
begin crafting next week’s posts. Get let go.
Monday: Wake up early to an alarm I forgot to unset. Listen to Eliza go to work.
Tuesday: Wake up early to a habit I forgot to unform. Listen to Eliza go to work.
Friday: Get out of bed. Start thinking about money.
Monday: On hold with Centrelink
Tuesday: On hold with Centrelink
Wednesday: On hold with- Christ on a cracker, I’m through
Thursday: Start budgeting. Form symbiotic relationship with pillow.
Friday: Delete UberEats because apparently I have no f*cking self-control which is probably why I’m not a goddam ‘essential’ part of my goddamn company-
Monday: Think about moving back home. Call Mum.
Tuesday: No longer thinking about moving home, am considering whether I own anything worth selling.
Wednesday: Put books in a ‘Sell’ pile. Put them back on the shelf. Repeat.
Thursday: Ask Eliza whether she’d be interested in buying any books. This, apparently, is an enormous red flag. End up telling her about the job.
Friday: Wave goodbye to Eliza in the morning, only a little bitter about her ability to function like an actual adult.
(Maybe feel a teeny-tiny bit better about things).
Monday: Consider the relative probabilities of winning the lotto vs getting a job in this market. Apply for everything.
Friday: Trip over a pile of books (not for sale) trying to answer what turned out to be a bird outside. Went to bed early.
“’Oh’?” asks Eliza. Her obvious survivor’s guilt arrives in the form of over-encouragement, an unspoken but brutally apparent concern about my sleeping habits, and the sudden curtailing of job-related whinging. My appreciation for this fluctuates.
“I ran out of pages. I used to do a ‘today’s focus is’ thing for work and I’ve been doing a… version, I guess, but I’ve run through my last page.”
“That’s great that you’re still doing it!”
With an effort of great will, I restrain from hissing, visible twitching, or storming off. This, I think, is progress. “Well, you know, I’ve still got lots of projects on.” Lie; one obsessively updated Instagram is not ‘lots of projects’ no matter which way you swing it.
“That’s fantastic!” No hissing, visible twitching, or storming off. “I think I saw some notebooks in the newsagency the other day, I can pick one up for you?” Some twitching, I’m not made of stone.
“Nah, that’s all good. I’ll grab one next week sometime – gotta pick the right moments to venture out these days.” Lie. There are two things right now that I am burningly aware of during every moment of every day and they are 1) my bank balance and 2) my weaknesses. I’m not going anywhere near a place that sells stationary.
“Thanks though, I appreciate it.” Half-lie; I do not appreciate her benevolent generosity now, but I probably will later, when it feels less like swallowing glass and gravel with a smile.
Wednesday: Found new notebook on my bed. Hissed, visibly twitched and stormed out with an innocent post-it note crushed to death in my palm (“Saw this and thought of you!”)
Thursday: Successfully avoided world
Friday: Said thank you to housemate. Half-lie. Progress.
Monday: Begin writing a satirical essay
Tuesday: on the slipstream nature of time
Wednesday: and our place on this spit of rock hurtling
Thursday: through an uncaring galaxy as-
Friday: Crack open a bottle or three.
“I’m lucky!” I howl at a barely darkened sky. It’s too early for this, but we’ve thrown ourselves into the wine bottle in a way that reminds me all over again that my personal crisis is a pointillist dot in a miserable artwork (on a spit of rock hurtling- anyway).
“Yes!” screams Eliza right back, then blinks. “No wait- why?”
I struggle for the thought I’d been having so successfully before I distracted myself with satirical existentialism. Ah, there it is. “I’m LUCKY! So I lost a job and am budgeting myself into panic attacks – look at us now! In the middle of an actual, honest-to-goodness plague, what’s a job? So the last one I applied for already had 300 other applicants - I have a compulsive Instagram habit and an essay on the slipstream nature of time-“
“-I’ll tell you later. I have wine and a roommate who cares and a wide-open sky above!”
Eliza says something well-meaning. I do not hiss, visibly twitch, or storm off. I don’t even want to. Progress, or possibly the impact of very cheap shiraz.
Monday: Begin again.
By KE Fleming.