Covid and loneliness

Aria looked around at the white walls of her home. There was a grey spot which she had rubbed for the past year, but it didn't go away.
She sighed and looked around, everything was immaculate and clean. She opened the window and peeked at the empty street below. Ever since Covid had struck, nobody ventured into the streets. It was like the apocalypse but so quiet. She thought she'd enjoy the solitude and peace. The lack of sound however was maddening. The absence of company brought out her personal monsters.

As she was pulling back the curtains, a shadow flickered in the corner of her eye. She snapped her head and looked down. The silhouette of a woman appeared on the street below. She seemed to be bent down in Aria's neighbor's garden. From Aria's vantage point, she could just see a shadow. She wondered who had been intrepid enough to flout the lockdown and venture outside.

She named the shadow Riri and watched as Riri plucked a flower and dissappeared into the street. It was the nearest to human interaction she'd been in a while. She looked at the laptop sitting pretty on her table. A social media page showing her friends cooking, making music, dancing withh their family. She rushed towards it and shut it down, remembering her mom and dad. She wished she'd thrown out all the sweet things that dad used to have sheepishly despite his diabetes, or that mom would go for walks rather than fret about her child.

She looked at her phone's wallpaper - the last picture they'd taken as a family. Dad would have hated being cooped up at home, not talking to people all day selling cars. Mom wouldn't have liked teaching online.

She stared into the distance from her window. A shadow flitted by again. Aria raised her head, and looked as Riri threw something in the air. Was it a ball? an apple? Riri kept throwing it and catching it. Was it Aria's imagination or were Riri's shoulders slumped?

Aria bit her lower lip, she had to go pick up her groceries from downstairs, anyway. Smiling to herself, she made her way downstairs past her groceries, in search for the elusive Riri.

It was her neighbour, from the house opposite. Aria had often seen her at supermarkets and they'd just nodded at each other. The neighbour was trying to fly what looked like a crumpled piece of paper in the air. As she caught her latest attempt, she looked around at Aria and blinked. Then, she smiled sheepishly and hid the crumpled paper.

Aria walked near the neighbour, standing 2 feet away from her and held out her hand,she caught the crumpled paper and smoothed it out. She worked deftly to fold it into a plane and launched it in the air.

They both smiled behind their masks.

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