It’s Friday evening. And I’m in a city where weekend plans are a big deal.
I walk down the street from my apartment building with an empty bag on my back that will soon be filled with groceries.
It’s a bit chilly out, the air crisp and fresh. The streets are busy. The footpath, lined with restaurants and bars, is an obstacle course of people — people dressed up and not, in couples and groups, all seemingly on a night out. I dodge them, thankfully not having to do the awkward shuffle of passing through.
I reach the grocery store, pick up a basket and get ready to tackle the moving hurdles in the narrow aisles that are prone to stopping abruptly and just lingering. And soon, I’m checking out.
I walk out the store and instantly, everything seems different.
The people on the streets are now few and far between. The restaurants around look sparse — no, empty. I take my phone out of my pocket and look at the homescreen — still Friday, less than half an hour later.
It looks like it rained while I was shopping, the roads are slick. I wait alone for the walk sign to turn green, looking around at the quiet. The yellow of the McDonald’s across the street burns bright on the concrete paths.
I start my way back to my apartment, looking through all the glass windows and doors of the establishments — some have their lights on, the staff still there, others are dark and shuttered.
It’s Friday evening and the deserted streets are unnerving.
I soon find notices stuck to the doors —
— to protect our customers
— to protect our employees
— stay healthy
— see you again
— serve you again
— temporarily closed
— takeaway only
— open for takeaway!
— thank you for your understanding
The walk back is uphill, the bag of groceries weighing heavy on my shoulders.
A bouncer always stands outside that bar which is now closed off with a heavy black door. That disco place, the one that puts out a short red carpet for the line of patrons waiting to get in, the one with a light that projects dancing colourful dots just outside its door, is dark. That lane dedicated to just restaurants, the tables, patrons and food spilling outside all lively, is deserted.
I reach my building and climb up the stairs tired.
I open the door to my apartment, wash my hands right away.
Pull out my groceries one by one, wipe them down carefully before putting them away.
Spray disinfectant over my bag, my keys and the doorknobs I touched.
I pick up my laptop, sit on my bed, lean on the pillow placed against the wall, take up my blanket (it was chilly out), open my laptop, start typing and clicking and watching, and then just stay there until it’s time for the next grocery run.