Vivienne stood in her little back garden taking in the stillness, a feeling of holiday bliss swept over her; perhaps it was the wonderful sunny weather and strange atmosphere of this unique time. If she had to be imprisoned she was grateful to be at home and very thankful that her bossy daughter had not persuaded her to downsize after Malcomb’s death and move into one of those dreadful McCarthy and Stone flats.
After two years she now had the house just as she wanted, but that didn’t alter the fact that her independence had been swept from under her feet, transformed overnight by Boris Johnson from a fighting fit recycled teenager into a vulnerable over seventy. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her son had moved back in ‘for a week’ after his divorce, just in time to find himself locked in, locked down, or whatever they called it. Left to her own devices she would have sneaked out, but James was on guard, no doubt on instructions from his sister.
Of course she had seen it coming, the divorce; she didn’t dislike her daughter-in-law, there was little about her to dislike or like, James deserved so much more. She never said any of this to him, just pretended to be surprised and she was surprised that he had managed to come out of it with nothing except his bicycle and computer.
Vivienne relished the peace of the garden. It was just her luck that James’ company was letting everyone work from home, so now her ‘ancient’ computer had been relegated to the dining room and inconveniently updated to Windows 10. She only went on line to be in the Facebook groups for her crafts, book club and bridge society.
Her friends sympathised with the loss of her sewing room as James commandeered it for his bedroom, but pointed out she had gained someone to do the shopping and a free handyman. What they actually meant was she was lucky to have a son who they all thought utterly charming, with a great sense of humour that would brighten up the dreary days ahead.
Vivienne heard the back door open and realised her moments of solitude were over, James was back from his daily bike ride.
‘Hey Mother, talking to the plants again?’
‘You don’t need to worry until they answer back.’
‘I’ll just put the Tesco order on line then I’ll get us something nice for lunch, I popped into the bakers.’
Vivienne gritted her teeth, wondering which items she didn’t want would arrive on the Tesco van this week. At least he was keeping the bakers going, it would be awful for them to close and the high street lose their lovely coffee shop.
‘Look at this, Cassie sent a picture.’
He marched down the path with his mobile phone aloft and her curiosity was aroused. He kept mentioning Cassie, who he had met in the queue for the chemist and turned out to also work for MPJ. James spent a lot of time chatting to her on the computer, Zoomtime, Scope or whatever it was when you could see the other person. Vivienne wondered what she looked like, but in the bright outdoor light she could make out nothing on the tiny screen of his phone.
‘Is that her?’
‘No, it’s a picture of her vivarium, remember I always wanted one.’
‘I don’t even know what a vivarium is.’
‘A complete environment in a glass tank, in Cassie’s case a huge tank. You keep reptiles in it.’
‘I certainly haven’t forgotten that tarantula you had. What does Cassie keep in hers?’
‘You and Jane never had any pets.’ Or any babies, she refrained from mentioning the topic that was never spoken about; whether by choice or if not, whose fault it was. ‘You could have had a vivarium…’
James just smiled, they both new Jane would not have liked her pristine lounge taken over by a tank full of scenery from a David Attenborough documentary.
‘So now you have a girlfriend who loves lizards.’
‘Mother, she’s not a girlfriend, a friend, on her own, glad to have someone to chat to about work, but mostly not about work. You would like her, great sense of humour and loves cycling.’
Vivienne smiled. ‘So if this virus business is ever over, you could meet up with her for bike rides and talk about lizards…?’