He had to drop his grocery bags, again. This was the fifth time he has had to do it, at 2 minute intervals it seems. He estimates he has about 200 meters left to finally get home, based on his distance tracking when he was still walking as a cardio exercise every morning.
Normally this weight he was carrying home would not be a problem. He did have an above average upper body strength after all; a product of tireless hours in his home gym. Today, however, it felt like he was carrying boulders.
Maybe it was the lack of sleep, him not eating a proper breakfast, or possibly the fact that he had to stand in line for an hour just to get inside the grocery. No, it was being on edge the whole time because he thought he heard someone coughing within one the aisles. This had got to be the scariest grocery run he has ever done in his life. However, if he didn’t do it, they would be dangerously low in supplies at home. With what’s happening, they could be prohibited to go out at all starting tomorrow without any warning.
He picks up the six bags and resumes walking. There are barely any vehicles on the road, odd considering that this used to be the main artery connecting Rizal to Metro Manila, and thus always had heavy traffic. It is not odd; rather it is now the norm.
His neighbors look at him with blatant disdain. Most of them cannot even afford to fill up one grocery bag and here he was heaving six. He didn’t mean to rub it in, he simply had to drop the bags again because his arms were fatigued, but he dropped them in front of all these people and with this they can study just how full these bags really are. If you knew, you can even make out a bag of imported potato chips jutting out from one of the bags.
After an hour of walking, stopping, resting, and profusely sweating, he finally arrives at his house’s gates. He cannot open the gate himself; he calls his wife using his Smart Watch so she can open it for him. What usually would have been a welcome back kiss is now just a brief smile that she cannot even see because he is wearing a nose and mouth mask. This is being responsible; kissing would put her in unnecessary danger.
The house, built by his grandfather (he commissioned it at least) a full 60 years ago, has a side entrance to the house near the ground floor bathroom. This is essential nowadays.
He drops the bags one last time, just outside the wide front door. He takes off his shoes and just leaves them out there. He loves shoes, makes sure to put them inside the house where they will be prominent, but now he has to leave them out of the house for at least a week.
He enters through the side entrance, which has been opened up by his wife so he does not need to touch the door, strips off his clothes and immediately throws them in the hamper, enters the bathroom and proceeds to cleanse his whole body. Normally, he would prefer using a moisturizing soap but nowadays has to use an anti-bacterial soap to be sure.
After getting dressed quickly, he then proceeds onto another task: sanitizing the groceries. This takes him half an hour to finish. He wants nothing more now than to reward himself with a hot cup of soothing coffee.
He unscrews the cover on the container and immediately smells the aroma of coffee. It is actually not the beautiful aroma of coffee but rather the pungent smell of instant coffee. He scoops a teaspoon of the granules into his small mug along with half a teaspoon of sugar. Even though he had bought the top-shelf brand of instant coffee, something that was actually manufactured in South Korea and imported by the Philippine entity of the coffee company, it still needed sweetener to be drinkable. He sighs as he pours warm water over the mixture and immediately begins stirring vigorously.
He brings the warm cup of “coffee” with him to the couch and plops down in it, absolutely exhausted. He only has an hour left to rest however, as he still has to log on to the company VPN and begin his work day. Moving his office job to a work from home set-up was not always easy, and today it will be absolutely brutal with several meetings booked. Still, he’s grateful he has an opportunity to work amidst the situation thus enabling him to still provide for the family.
He sneaks a peak at his smart watch and sees the time in California where his parents are. It’s early evening there, and he knows his mom still isn’t home yet. He worries about her; she’s at over sixty and still has to work. He checks a messaging app in his phone for an update on the pet food he ordered yesterday from a shop a few subdivisions away. Nothing yet but he knows they’ll be able to deliver. He puts the phone down and just stares at the windows facing the backyard. He wishes, though, that he has a donut to help give him a boost to work.
He sits there peacefully but in the back of his mind, he’s still on edge. He’s checking for signs from his body that he may have been infected with Covid 19 due to his grocery run but knows this is pointless; it will take at least a couple more days for any of the symptoms to appear. They may not even appear at all, but he might still be putting his loved ones at danger. He has no choice but to wait and see what happens to actually know, and this he cannot forget at all.
He tries not to fall asleep. He should be drinking his “coffee” but he just cannot compel himself at the moment to down instant coffee. It’s funny, how he’s still doing his routine before working while at home: resting, with coffee, before needing to start his work day.
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Categories: stories with kape