Advancing outside for the first time, we met upon a narrow path, with nowhere to step back or aside. Glancing up and then down at our shoes, we feigned an air of nonchalance and quickened our nervous pace. On other days, we’d pause to hold the kissing gates; comment on the weather; stop to pet an exuberant dog; exchange a polite “Good Morning!” or short reassuring laugh. Now as we passed, our guilty hands were clenched deep in our grubby pockets, and downcast eyes engaged only briefly with embarrassment. Smiling with recognition, we were holding our breath all the same.
Ian Croasdell is a semi-retired former teacher living in the north of England. Having moved to be closer to his elderly parents, he now finds himself a part-time key worker and having to maintain essential awkward distances.