This story was written at the time the events were happening in Australia. It started in April 2020, so the events and occasions represent those at the time in Australia.
Jenny Covid was the first of her family to stay at home, when the restaurant where she worked was forced to close because of the Corona crisis. At first she enjoyed the peace and quiet but after a few days she began to feel lonely at home alone all day. Although the reasons were not pleasant she now looked forward to having all her family at home. Her husband, Daniel, had set up a home office in the spare bedroom, which had been vacant since their elder son Jason had moved out to live with his girlfriend. Kevin was commencing school holidays and would be taking lessons online after that and today her daughter Christine informed her she would now be taking her uni lectures online also. But it did not turn out as Jenny had expected. She was still alone most of the day as each member of her family went about their duties and study alone.
Jenny made a pot of tea and took it into Daniel’s office to share with him.
“Oh that’s a sweet idea Jen, but I’m about to start an online conference and I don’t know these people so I want to be properly prepared.”
“OK love, I’ll leave it with you. What’s your conference about Dan?”
“It’s appropriate to the times. It’s called The importance of sex during lockdown.”
“Mmm sounds interesting.”
Disappointed but not perturbed, Jenny got a pack of Kevin’s favourite Tim Tams and charged into his bedroom. As she opened the door the smell hit her like a solid object. It was the smell that only a mature female olfactory system can sense; the odour that is a combination of sweat, testosterone, used jocks and dried semen.
“Mum really, have you not heard of knocking?”
“Oh so sorry Kev.” She replied as she, in quick succession, blushed, turned and closed the door behind her. “Well I’ll leave him to that.”
Again disappointed, but not yet out of ideas, she went back to the kitchen and made a chia/berry smoothie for Christine. As she headed down the hallway to Christine’s room she just knew she was on a winner here. Surely her only daughter would spare some time for her. Again, without knocking Jenny burst into the bedroom to see Christine, naked to the waist, sitting in front of her computer. “Oh Chris is it too hot in here, do you want me to turn on the air-con?”
“No Mum, I don’t need air-con and I don’t need you to be here either.”
“Sssure, I’ll just leave you and put the smoothie in the fridge for later” replied a puzzled mum.
Jenny went and sat in her favourite recliner and mused over the mornings events. All she wanted was to spend some time with her family, but they were all too busy for her. She thought, ‘what has my household come to? My husband is talking sex with strangers, my son is doing what teenage boys apparently do when left alone in their bedrooms and Christine... what is she doing?’ Then it dawned on her ‘Oh no she can’t be, or could she? I just don’t want to think about it now. Well, as they say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’ Then she realised how inappropriate that saying was for the current circumstances. She ejected herself from the chair, headed straight to her bedroom, closed the door behind her and sat on the end of the bed. ‘Now where did I put that door prize I won a few years back at Angela’s lingerie party?’ As she rummaged through her drawers, she asked herself ‘I wonder if the batteries will still be good?’
That evening, Jenny did manage to get all her family together for dinner and insisted they eat at the dinner table, not in front of the TV or computers. Further, she ordered that all phones be turned off at the table. She kicked off the conversation with “How was everyone’s day?” First there was silence while they all looked at each other, hoping someone else would start. Jenny looked at them all and said “Well?” this was followed by everyone muttering at the same time. “Stop!one at a time please. Dan you go first.”
“As you know I had a video conference this morning with members of the College of Psychology and later in the day a few phone consultations with patients; you know I can’t speak about that.”
“Of course, but can you tell us about your conference?”
“It’s probably a bit dry and boring and not suitable for family dinner conversation.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that, from what I gathered today I think we’re all adults here.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Oh I think the kids will elaborate on that when it’s their turn to tell us about their day.” As Daniel furrowed his brow, Jenny said “Go on.”
“OK, the subject was the importance of sex during the lockdown. We examined how being forced to live in close quarters 24 hours a day could affect relationships of couples, would they be likely to have intercourse more often, would the quality of intimacy suffer if the quantity increased and subjects like that.”
“And did you reach a conclusion?”
“No, but that was not the purpose of the conference, it was mainly a sharing of ideas and a reminder to be alert to the signs that might indicate a shift in relationships because of the circumstances. We also touched on the matter of marital conflict leading to possible family violence. I think that is a real possibility.”
“I agree Dan, it worries me that this lockdown could cause real problems for family relationships that may already be a bit unstable.”
“But that won’t happen here will it gang?” As Christine opened her mouth to speak, her mother said, “I agree with that also, everybody here seemed to be very happy today. Right kids?” she asked with a wink across the table that Daniel could not see.
Both Christine and Kevin were starting to feel uncomfortable and each was trying to compose what they would say about their day when their turn came. As they both sat in silence they were saved for now by Jenny offering to go next. “Well, I spent my day cleaning out drawers, a job that was well overdue. I found a lot of things I haven’t used for years. Some I had forgotten I even owned and some that brought back lovely memories.”
“Tell us Mum?” asked Kevin.
“No, I think I’ll leave it at that for now.” Then looking at her children, “I suppose you two had a very tiring day attending to studies?”
“Yes, Mum I got started on a new science assignment” said Kevin enthusiastically.
“I thought that’s what you were doing; and you Christine?”
“It takes a bit of adjustment listening to lectures on line and learning to use the camera.”
“I’m sure it does, but I know you’ll manage.”
After dinner Christine helped her mother clean up, while the boys went off to do their own things. While Daniel went to watch the ABC news, Kevin turned on his phone and browsed through the recommended posts. After a few minutes he rushed in to talk to his father.
“Hey Dad, have you ever heard of the Bolt Report?”
“Yes I have, but I don’t often watch it on that Murdoch station Sky. Why do you ask?”
“They interviewed the Pell guy from the Catholic church.”
“And what did he have to say?”
“He’s just shit all over your ABC.”
“How’s that son.”
“He reckons they are biased and reminded them that they are partly funded by Catholic taxes.”
“That may be so Kev, but he should remember that people who live in glasses houses etc.”
“What do you mean Dad?”
“The amount of funding the ABC gets is lunch money compared to the amount of non-catholic taxpayer funds going to Catholic schools.”
“And don’t they have the right to discriminate against gay teachers and students. I thought anti-discrimination laws were supposed to make everyone equal in this country.”
“Yes, but some are more equal than others Kev.”
Next chapter the family members venture outdoors, legally and illegally.