There are eight of them clustered around the main entrance, cigarettes in hand. Barely a metre between them, never mind two.
Not a flicker.
As I squeeze past, a faux cough in my ear, hot breath on my cheek. Laughter.
In the warmth of my flat, I put the shopping away. The drumbeat of the news. Politicians.
“Stay at home, and we can beat this virus together.”
“What we’re actually going to see is an outpouring of altruism.”
Thump thump thump. Next door’s music goes on, blaring into the street. There’s nothing else to hear, nothing to think.
James Northern is UK-based and became a writer after taking up long evening walks. He believes there is a mileage beyond which it becomes inevitable. He was shortlisted for the 2019 Retreat West Short Story Prize and was most recently published in the 2020 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology.