Twenty twenty


Illustration by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

I looked both ways before stepping out into the street. I listened for footsteps. The coast was clear. No one was around. I could leave the house.

I had barely taken two steps down the road when I heard the helicopter hovering above me, repeating the same message over and over again.

“We’re in a medical emergency… Stay at home… Don’t put other people at risk… Stay at home… We’re in a lockdown… Stay at home…”

I hid under the canopy of a large tree while the chopper passed, hugging the trunk, trembling in tune with the leaves above me. Had they seen me? Did they know where I was going? Could they read my mind? Had they reported me? Would someone come for me? Take me away? Was I in trouble?

“We’re in a medical emergency… Stay at home… Don’t put other people at risk… Stay at home… We’re in a lockdown… Stay at home…”

Gradually the message faded until it was just a murmur in the distance and an echo in my head.

“We’re… Stay… Don’t… Stay… We’re… Stay…”

I let go of the tree and continued my journey down the street. My body remained stiff and my heart pounded in my chest. What was I venturing into?

As I reached the main street I noticed there were some more people around. Scattered over the two sidewalks, keeping their distance. Some walking along the middle of the road. I could feel their gaze turn towards me as I took my place among them, keeping my distance, like a delicate product passing along on a slow moving conveyor belt. I could feel their thoughts penetrating my head.

“What’s he doing here? How dare he? Has he no shame? No respect for others?”

I bowed my head, looking down at my feet, as I took my carefully choreographed steps along the sidewalk, keeping my distance. I made myself as small as possible. Kept my arms tight to my sides. On one hand I wanted to become invisible, escape the inquisitive eyes of my neighbors. On the other, I wanted to shout. I wanted to come clean.

“I don’t mean you harm. I’m not here to hurt you. I’m just going shopping. I’m out of food.”