At eleven o’clock last Monday I was in our local medical centre, waiting for the lift after my appointment. It arrived and I stepped in, then noticed a tiny elderly lady – she must have been well over eighty, if not ninety – approaching.
I stopped the lift doors closing, and called to her. ‘Are you coming down?’
She hesitated visibly, then scurried in and squeezed into the far corner. I whacked the ground floor button with my jacket sleeve.
‘Isn’t it dreadful how we don’t know what’s safe now?’ she said.
‘I know,’ I said. ‘I guess we’re all right for the few seconds in here, though.’
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I’m glad we have to wear masks.’
We arrived at the ground floor and walked towards the front door. I didn’t need to worry about social distancing because she was being super careful, and we emerged into a cold autumn morning.
She stared around. ‘It all looks so normal,’ she said, her voice trembling.
Her cab was waiting, and she got in without saying goodbye.
The taxi drove off, leaving me with a huge lump in my throat. I hope she hadn’t had bad news at the doctor’s. I hope she’s able to enjoy ‘normal’ again, one day. And I hope there was someone at home to give her the hug she needed.
I wandered towards the old town to take some photos. She was right – it did all look normal. Except for the last pic, but somehow, it didn’t feel funny that day…