An Afternoon in Iso

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Ugg boots and track pants
Ugg boots and trakkies

Scuff, scuff, scuff, scuff. She looked down, realising that the sound of her ugg boots scuffing against the floor had become all too familiar during the past few weeks. Wearing their slightly stained, soft, brown suede was like a gesture of rebellion towards her normally well-polished, leather boots. Ugg boots and trackies. These were now her normal working uniform and were presented in almost comical contrast to her neatly matching shirt and blazer.

She sat down on the couch, grateful for the warmth of the lounge and the sun seeping through the window. She knew that she should be in her little make-shift office with the desk, the chair, the files, but it felt so dim and cold once the sun had moved over the house. The living room was always so much more appealing.

Staring into the laptop she rubbed her eyes. Making a conscious effort to ignore the dishes and washing piling up around her, she took a deep breath and pasted on a smile for her next Zoom meeting. Zoom. What a futuristic concept. Her pasted smile turned in to a genuine grin as she saw the kid on the other end of the meeting half floating in space, the pixilated starry background bouncing around the edges of his cheeky face. For half an hour they worked and chatted. It always amazed her, the productivity a child could achieve in half an hour. Only she couldn’t help but feel that maybe she could help them achieve more. With human connection and spontaneity, what if they could achieve more? Still, the child was in high spirits and his mood was infectious. She felt the bubble of success as they progressed through their work cheering at the results. All too quickly she was waving goodbye, careful to stick to the time limit they had, and closing the meeting.

Checking email

Opening her email she watched, with instant regret, as she saw the flood of notifications come through.

Looking up she took in the room around her, the silence felt loud in contrast to the conversation she had just had. She sighed. She didn’t think she would ever get used to this on-off facade of human interaction. Opening her email she watched, with instant regret, as she saw the flood of notifications come through. Why was this so hard? She had nothing to stress about, this was normal work. This was all manageable and yet it felt heavy. Like walking through mud or running in slow motion. She was healthy, she was employed, and she had internet, warmth, electricity, food. She was not allowed to feel down. She was not allowed to complain. She was not allowed to be lonely or tired, and yet she suddenly realised that she was. Adjusting almost instantly to how she had to adjust and listening daily to those who had to make adjustments far bigger than hers, she hadn’t noticed the creeping feeling of exhaustion.

Feeling the tears prick the corners of her eyes, she cursed herself for being such a sook. She smirked at the indignant look on her cat’s face, he had taken personal offence to her choice of exclamation. It was 2pm and she realised that she had barely taken her eyes away from her screen all day, let alone eaten anything. Daily structure was one of the things that she hadn’t managed to retrieve yet. She blamed her exhaustion on the lack of food and decided to take a break for lunch.

She got up and stretched, her neck creaking and knees cracking. She knew her workmates would not approve of her choice of seat that day. The couch could hardly be called ergonomical. Looking in the half empty pantry she decided to put on some toast, plain and simple seemed to suit her current mood. Spying the Wonderboom speaker sitting on the bench she realised she hadn’t listened to music in days, maybe even all week.

Choosing an all-time favourite and cranking up the volume, she realised that this was the company she had been needing. The intricate bassline danced through the room and began to breathe life into the tired looking curtains. Even the walls seemed to welcome the change in pace. Only the cat, who was now glaring at her from under hooded eyelids seemed to object to the music now flooding through the house.

dancing

She started bopping around the kitchen, pulling out her daggiest moves

.

She soon realised that being on her own in the house didn’t have to be so bad. She started bopping around the kitchen, pulling out her daggiest moves, taking unapologetic satisfaction in the fact that no-one could see her or hear her woefully belting out the tunes. This album had been so well-listened to that as soon as one song ended she could predict the opening line of the next track, and she patted herself on the back for every correct prediction, feeling a smug sense of achievement each time.

Suddenly it was 2.25 and she had taken up her lunchbreak. She quickly scoffed down the now cold, brittle toast, feeling it settle as a lump in her stomach. She turned off the music, sat back down and opened her laptop, preparing to continue her day as she had started it. But she had a new energy now. The music was still buzzing around her brain and she felt a renewed sense of freedom. She clicked on her next Zoom link, and felt an enormous sense of gratitude. Grateful for her work, grateful for Zoom, grateful for her family’s health and grateful for the music that had woken her up from the inevitable exhaustion of isolation.

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Rebecca Oliver-Black
Beck grew up in the Hobart music and theatre scene, soaking up as many performing experiences as she could. In 2016, she graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Theatre from the Queensland Conservatorium. Her love of theatre sparked a great love of voice and language and inspired her to continue her studies, completing a Masters of Speech Pathology in 2019. She is now lucky enough to be working as part of the team at Speech Pathology Tasmania. She also has a passion for creative writing and looks forward to sharing this with you all!