This story was written for the May edition of the monthly Furious Fiction contest.
This was the assignment:
“Five more weeks of lockdown? You must be kidding!”
Catherine shouts at the journalist reporting live from the President’s press conference, but nobody hears her. Angry, she turns off the television. Not having to go to work for a while was no longer the silver lining it had been during the early days of the pandemic. When the first measures to curb the spread of the virus were announced, Catherine was convinced the government was exaggerating about something that would prove to be nothing more than an ordinary flu.
“Bring it on and get it over with!” she had told her best friend Tara over the phone. “I’ve already replaced the batteries in the toys I keep in my bedside drawer. I’m ready for it!”
But that was then, and this is now. Five long weeks of solitude have passed; five more weeks are impending. Catherine’s skin longs to be touched. Her fingers want to caress, grope and pinch the naked body of a man. She needs to kiss and be kissed, but she knows she isn’t going to meet a suitor in the flesh any time soon. Frustrated, she calls her best friend for a video chat.
“Why did I ever break up with Jonathan?” she asks Tara. “I could have spent the whole day in bed with him, if only I hadn’t thrown away our relationship.”
“You liked him, but you didn’t love him,” Tara answers. “You suffered from FOBO.”
“Fear of Better Options. You didn’t want to commit until you found your true love.”
Tara was right. Jonathan had been a good guy, and there had been moments Catherine thought she loved him, but he didn’t sweep her off her feet the way she had always imagined the right man was supposed to do. Maybe she had been watching too many romantic movies.
“What if he was my one shot at true love?”
“Too bad. It’s too late now. Did you check his Facebook profile? He’s with another girl.”
“I know, and I hate her already.”
“Come on, Catherine. We should praise ourselves lucky that we’re safe and sound. The only troubles we experience during this pandemic are first-world problems. It’s not appropriate to whine about them.”
“Maybe you’re right, but I could really use a man right now.”
“You’re preaching to the choir, girl,” Tara laughs. “As soon as this is over, we’ll be back to FOMO.”
“The Fear of Missing Out. We’ll probably shag the first man that crosses our path.”
Catherine raises her glass of wine in front of the camera: “I’ll drink to that.”
Tara joins her: “To bad decisions!”
“To bad decisions!”
Jacob checks the personal information of both girls. Hacking the video app the victims of his eavesdropping are using was a piece of cake. Happy to see they are living in his neighborhood, he adds Catherine and Tara to his list of girls to accidentally bump into as soon as the lockdown is over.