Year 9 Altrincham

Lizzie ran home from school, rushed into her flat and sat beside her mum in front of the TV. The Prime Minister was on the screen again, gesturing and addressing the country about the current situation. Just since last week comments, research and information about coronavirus had flooded the internet, spilling out into social media, trickling into the news. There’d already been a wave of announcements, but everyone was tuned in for this one. The Prime Minister got straight to the point, explaining why some new measures would be put in place. Then he said that the schools would close by Friday of that week. Lizzie didn’t really know how to react. She knew that school was closing for a reason but she couldn’t help wishing it wasn’t. She was filled with the premature sadness of a last day of school – crying with her friends, but not even being able to hug.

The day after the announcement, Lizzie and her little sister, Annie, walked to the shop. They ambled down the road, huddled under the umbrella as the sky filled London with buckets of water. They stopped almost halfway down the street, at the end of the queue. This was definitely new; the shop never had this many customers. Annie gripped Lizzie’s hand tighter. They waited in silence, the light pitter-patter of rain on the pavement the only sound. Customers hurried past them, carrying armfuls of toilet paper, tins and hand-sanitizer. They waited for about 15 minutes before reaching the door.

Right…err…” a shop assistant said nervously, scratching his head and standing in the doorway, “Look…I’m very sorry girls but…you see, only one of you is allowed in at a time. Shop rules. I’m sorry…can’t change ‘em.” He looked at the girls and offered a small, embarrassed smile.

What? That doesn’t… come on,” Lizzie pleaded, shaking her head, “Surely you can let us in, I can’t just leave my sister out here alone in the rain and she can’t go in herself…she’s 6!” She grasped Annie’s hand.

Sorry,” the assistant said, holding up his hands, defensively, “Like I said: shop rules based on government guidelines…nothing I can do”

She pulled Annie close to her and they strode down the street, back to their flat. After telling their mum about everything that happened, the three of them sat down in the living room, shocked into a silent world of thought.

Is it really that bad…that the two of us can’t even go to the shop?” Lizzie whispered, tears welling in her eyes, “I just want this to end,” she said as her mum held them close.

Weeks passed by and the cold, rainy days of March and April turned to a fiery, unbreathable heatwave in May. Even with all the windows open and the AC turned on full blast, the flat was dripping in heat. With lockdown, Lizzie and her family were only able to go out once a day, meaning that the heat stuck to them like a parasite and there was no way of shaking it off. Drenched in the boredom of another unbearably hot day, Lizzie checked her messages; a few people on the group-chat arguing about the answer to Q7 on the English worksheet, and a notification from Google Photos. She opened it up on her phone – the app had put together a collection of photos, labelling it as ‘this_time_last_year’. There were photos of the school trip to Spain; Lizzie and her friends laughing on the plane, eating ice cream on the beach and posing in front of monuments. She thought back to that weekend and smiled at the memory. Then she realised that the uncertainty of the current situation meant she was unsure whether she’d ever go on holiday or even see her friends again.

As the scorching May heatwave changed to the surprisingly moderate days of June, Lizzie and her family went on a walk. On the way, they passed houses with brightly coloured rainbows hung in the windows.

Why’ve they got rainbows in their windows, Mummy?” Annie asked pointing to a particularly spectacular display.

Those are rainbows of hope” their mum replied, smiling, “they spread positivity in this uncertain time.”

Can we do rainbows too?” Annie asked, a smile already spreading over her little face.

Of course we can, Annie,” their mum said, holding her hand, “That’s a great idea!”

All the rest of the walk, Lizzie thought about the rainbows. She smiled at them; people were coming together, despite the circumstances and the message was certainly coming through.

Everyone needs a little positivity from the rainbows of hope.

Grace Greaves


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