The following piece of flash fiction was my entry for the Federation of BC Writers competition. Flash fiction is a story told in 500 words or less, so it's a quick read. Enjoy!
The news wasn’t good. They had been warned about the possibility of a second wave, and now it was here, the numbers climbing rapidly. Infection rates and deaths were published daily, like the score of some morbid game, with the US clearly in the lead, while Canada proudly lagged far behind. This was not a game one played to win.
The months of social distancing were beginning to wear on people. Nerves were frayed, tempers short, the world suffocating under a shroud of anxiety, as humanity held its collective breath, waiting. Waiting for their lives to return to normal. But with each passing day, normal seemed further away. Lock downs were threatened. Not normal. Even trips to the grocery story were fraught with tension - too many people, too many rules, and heaven help you if you remember something you need from aisle 4, once you’re in aisle 5. Easier to order in. But today Nancy had to go out, she had packages to mail at the post office.
Nancy had sewn face masks for her four grandchildren, now they were back in school. Not that she thought school was a good idea, it was like using the children as fodder for the much touted ‘herd immunity’ that would apparently end the pandemic. Nancy worried about that almost as much as she worried about Mr. Trump winning a second term. It seemed the whole world was spinning towards oblivion these days. Nancy put on her face mask, tucked her hand sanitizer into her pocket, and set out to face the world.
It was sunny and hot, too hot, which was just another thing to add to Nancy’s list of things to worry about - climate change. She decided to walk anyhow, easier than trying to find a parking spot at the Post Office. The sidewalks were busy and Nancy actually had to step out onto the street twice, to maintain a safe social distance. ’Inconsiderate bastards’ she cursed under her breath at the mask-less pedestrians who crossed her path. Just another block to the Post Office and then she could scurry home. She would be safe again, at home.
Nancy stopped at the crosswalk and waited for the WALK sign. A gaggle of mask-less teenagers were waiting too. Nancy stood with her back to them, breathing as shallowly as possible to avoid inhaling their COVID-ridden spittle. The light changed to ‘WALK’ but the teenagers didn’t notice, so continued goofing around. Nancy waited. The light started flashing DON’T WALK, as the teenagers suddenly darted across the street. Nancy hesitated a moment, wanting to be sure that the breeze had cleared the air, then turned and stepped off the curb, oblivious to the oncoming truck.