Driving home for Covid

Emily C
2 min readNov 4, 2021

Thirty minutes to go before we reach Trowell services and go our separate ways. Heading North for the festive period was always the plan, but the circumstances of the past year forced us to leave earlier, move out entirely, in a manic blur. It was the end of the world. Since the announcement 24 hours before- Christmas cancelled, lockdown looming- we’d been in survival mode. Plan, pack, panic. Now we feel the weight of it all and let ourselves be crushed by it. Thirty minutes to go, before you take everything you own from the back of my car and we’ll never live together again.

Our energy had started to wane by the time we reached Leicester. The novelty of our escape had been left on the M25, now we were just a pair of little kids running back to their parents after the world had become too scary. We needed each other. The small moments, drinking tea in your bed and discussing the latest episode of our favourite podcast. The biggest moments, like having our suspicions confirmed that your ex boyfriend really was a cheating scumbag. I remember your strength; the memory forces a wave of pride through my body that lifts my hand from the gear stick to give your head a gentle pat.

When we passed Milton Keynes, prompted by a ‘turkeys for sale’ sign at the side of the road, we discussed what Christmas Day looks like at your house. Understated, wholesome and sweet, just like you. What would happen, we laughed, if we swapped houses for the day. I would disrupt the peace, barge in with armfuls of booze and accuse your dad of cheating at Monopoly. Who’s going to plan my weekends now? Justify my third glass of wine in the evening? Make me dinner as I trundle home at 9pm, greeting me in the kitchen with a hug after another horrendous day? You always checked up on me.

Watford was blessed with our incredibly loud rendition of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’. Lucky Watford. The tears that had been building behind my eyes dissolved into laughter as you strained to reach the highest note. Everything had fit into the car, with some coercion, although I was prepared to leave my belongings behind if it meant I could transport you safely. We pretended we were on a road trip, watching the landscape turn greener as we left the skyscrapers behind. We wondered what would happen next.

As I drove us out of the car park, away from the flat and away from Brixton, our minds were still tied up in logistics. Move into the right lane when you can, give way to that bus, try not to hit that pedestrian. The prospect of the next three months stuck inside the house, again, sat in the back of our minds. But it wasn’t alone. There was something else, a gut wrenching truth lurking in there. Don’t let it out. We’ll never live together again.

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Emily C

Current MA student (Creative Writing). Ardent feminist, perpetual snacker.