Life imitating art

She and Melissa had made an agreement that one of them had to eyeball their parents every day, regardless of protests they were being over-protective. Katharine had been to visit a few times since their initial KFC lunch, each time peering at them through the front window after dropping off a box of groceries.

She would study their faces for a change in colour, listen to the way they spoke through the glass, trying to hear if they were more breathless than usual. She was well aware that they studied her back through the glass, observing her for fatigue, trying to get a look at her tiny bump. Her mother would quiz her on her diet, her sleep, even her toilet habits.

Pat showed her a wooden doll’s cradle he’d been making for the baby. What if it’s a boy? she had asked. Boys become fathers, was her Dad’s philosophical reply.

This is an excerpt from a book I wrote in early 2020 during the early days of the pandemic, before we knew how COVID was spread, before vaccines and masks, before we knew how it would disrupt our lives for years to come.

It shows a scene where one of my characters, Katherine, visits her elderly parents who are quarantining at home after being exposed to the new coronavirus.

Although the book is fictional, it’s hard not to use elements of real life, so when I wrote the scene two years ago, it was my own parents I was visualising. It was their home I was picturing when I described a large front window, and as I wrote, I was considering how it would feel to be so helpless, where your parents are trapped on the other side of a pane of glass and you cannot hug them or touch them, even though it’s something you would do every single time you see them.

Today life imitated art.

Unfortunately, both my parents (in their 70s but hardly elderly) have COVID. As I walked up their drive with an esky of groceries, I was aware of how I had written this exact scene. I placed it by the front door and turned to see my parents had opened their curtains and were standing in the large front window. We attempted a conversation through the glass, made difficult by the fact we’re all half-deaf, so we shouted platitudes, all the while scrutinising each other – me wondering if my Mum’s cough was likely to worsen into something more dangerous, them watching me to see how I’m coping with my own personal issues (NOT pregnant like Katherine, in case you’re wondering).

It was the ultimate déjà vu.

It wasn’t the only thing I predicted in the book, though.

I wrote the following scene in May 2020, about four months before POTUS was infected with coronavirus.

‘Roll yourself in here,’ he said with a grin. He patted the bed next to him. ‘Did you hear Boris Johnson has tested positive for the ‘rona?’ he called. ‘First Prince Charles, now BoJo. It’s taking out the world order.’ He grinned. ‘Maybe Trump will get it. He doesn’t believe in masks.’

Published by Shannon Meyerkort

Shannon Meyerkort is a Perth-based writer and storyteller

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