Have you seen the video about the couple who found romance in the heart of staying in place with the coronavirus?
I loved it!
Boy grows bored staying in a small apartment all day. Goes out to the balcony and sees a girl on a neighboring rooftop. Sends a drone over with a phone number. And the conversations begin.
Is that what romance looks like now? Is this what it looks like in the middle of a pandemic?
The more I got to thinking about their story, the more I started building one of my own.
And I decided it was something I wanted to explore.
So here it is – Douglas and Sara’s story.
I’ll be exploring it more in the coming days. One short story. Five chapters. Let’s begin.
“Why don’t you meet Sammie down at the park.” Douglas was pressing his index fingers to his temples, willing away the headache he could feel starting. “It’s not raining for once. You guys could walk six feet apart.”
Coco rolled her eyes as only a twelve-year-old could. “Like, she lives miles from me, Dad. There’s no way she could get over here without someone driving her. Could we pick her up?”
“No!” He calmed his voice quickly, but one look at Coco’s face told him she’d heard. “You know the rules.”
“I hate the rules. I hate the coronavirus. I hate all of this. I hate this house. I hate you! I just want my old life back. I just want to go to school!” She stomped off down the hallway, followed by a door slam that rocked the house.
A whimper had Douglas reaching down, and scratching his faithful friend behind the ears. “It’s okay, Jasper, she didn’t mean you.”
Content, Jasper moved back to his bed, and fell asleep before his head hit the cushion.
Why was parenting so difficult?
He knew why. Because he was doing it alone.
Douglas glanced over at the family photo still hanging above the fireplace. Beth. “Why’d you have to go?” he whispered.
His mind wandered to when they’d hung the portrait above the mantle. “To the left, no, a little more to the right.” She’d done that several times before he realized she was playing with him. Oh, that had been a great day. The kids had been with their grandparents. They never did get the photo hung; they’d spent the rest of the afternoon in bed.
“Oof,” Douglas bent over as his son plowed headfirst into his stomach. “Slow down, kiddo, what’s going on?”
“She’s gonna kill me, Dad.” His seven-year-old son Chance ducked behind him, pulling his shirt as he zipped around.
“Buddy, let go of my shirt. Why is she going to …”
“Give it back, you little creep.” Coco was swinging as she dodged around Douglas, trying to catch her brother.
“Stop it. Both of you.” He grabbed them each by a hand, and led them to chairs. “Sit.”
When they finally stopped squealing, he sat between them.
“What happened? Coco, you first.”
“He took my iPad.”
“I did not!”
“Chance, you’ll have your turn in a moment.” He turned back to his daughter. “Why do you think he has it?”
“Because he was standing in the hallway with a creepy look on his face.”
They both turned to Chance, who indeed, had a goofy grin.
“Did you take it?” Douglas could tell he was hiding something.
“No,” Chance said less than convincingly.
It took a raised eyebrow for Chance to start talking. “She left it on the couch, so I played a game. But I left it on the couch. I swear, Dad.”
“Coco, what did I tell you? If you don’t want him to use it, you have to keep it in your room. He can use mine, but if you leave yours available, I’m not going to reprimand him for picking it up. Are we clear?”
“Can I go?” Coco stuck her nose into the air. Douglas knew she’d march down the hall to her room, slamming the door once again. Maybe it’s what they all needed at the moment. A little time apart.
“That’s fine. You too, Chance. Why don’t we all have alone-time for an hour, and then we’ll cook dinner together?”
“Fine,” Chance drawled, following his sister down the hall, much slower. But at least there was no door slamming. Success!
Douglas reached into the fridge and withdrew a beer. He glanced at the clock on the microwave. Four-thirty.
It was five o’clock somewhere.
He twisted the top off, and opened up the patio door, taking in the fresh air. Jasper ran past and out into the yard, beginning his regular patrol.
Douglas followed. He’d done the rounds himself a time or two. Or three.
Lately, his house felt like a cage. But at least the sun was peeking through the clouds, no rain in sight. He stopped when he heard singing.
“They say it’s my birthday, na na na na na na, na na.”
He smiled, moved past a large rhododendron near the edge of his property, and found his neighbor, Sara, dancing on her patio.
She had on a beautiful sundress, much different than the yoga pants she’d been wearing the day before. Most days since they’d been ordered to stay in place.
She was dancing barefoot, with a drink in her hands.
“Hey,” he called to her, when she stopped for a sip.
“Oh, shit,” she jumped back as some of the liquid spilled to the ground.
She looked up and smiled. “Hey, Douglas. I didn’t see you there.”
“I could tell. Nice song. I hope you didn’t spill on your dress.”
She glanced down. “Nope. Looks good.”
She took another sip, moved to the edge of her patio, and leaned into one of the supports. “I’m just having a pity party over here.”
He raised his beer towards her. “Me too. The kids are driving me crazy.”
“Well, I’ve got you beat. It’s my fortieth today. I’m supposed to be in Mexico with my girlfriends. Instead, I’m here.”
“Oh, that sucks. I’m sorry. You win. Happy birthday.”
“Thanks.” She took another sip. “So it’s just me and my margarita outside, while the boys are making tacos and nachos in there to surprise me.” She looked longingly in her cup. “I wish I had more rum to make this stronger.”
He laughed. “I hate to tell you, but you don’t make a margarita with rum.”
“You do when that’s the only alcohol in the house.”
He held his beer up. “Here’s to rum margaritas.”
“Cheers!” She held her cup in the air for a moment, before taking another sip. “I think I’m going to need another one of these. They were cutting up carrots for the nachos.”
“Carrots?” He tried hard not to laugh.
“I know, right? It’s not like they haven’t made Mexican food before, we eat it all the time.”
“Eat them fast. Save room for the cake.”
She winced. “I’m not sure if that’s going to be much better. Hunter had the brilliant idea of putting crushed tortilla chips in the batter.”
“Oh, wow. Mexico, or carrot nachos and tortilla chip cake. It really is a toss-up as to which one sounds better.”
“You know, if the six-foot distancing rule weren’t in place, I’d walk over there and …” she held up a fist, teasing him.
They both jumped as her eleven-year-old, Hudson, leaned out the door, screaming, “Mom! I think the nachos are burning.”
Douglas could hear her sigh even from his patio.
“Duty calls.” She tipped her glass at him one more time, drained it, and turned towards the house. “See ya, Douglas.”
“Bye. Happy Birthday again.”
Chapter two, coming soon.