Away Awhile

Chapter Four
Empty Spaces, Abandoned Places

I decided to phone Mrs Shawwal because she doesn’t have any one really to look out for her. Her husband died a few years ago and she hasn’t got any children. She might have brothers and sisters but I think they live in Egypt. However, when I checked ‘Dalliance contact’ online, I couldn’t find any number listed. I specified a bit with ‘Dalliance café shop contact’ and ‘Dalliance shop Mrs Shawwal’ and ‘Dalliance café shop Mrs Shawwal contact number’ but only weird and irrelevant things came up.

I told Mum that we should drive by, but she’s worried about taking the boys out since we can’t leave them here.

She doesn’t really want me to go either, but I explained the case carefully and promised ample hand-washing (that’s the main advice we’ve been given), and that I wouldn’t get near to people or touch surfaces unnecessarily. She agreed eventually but said I’d have to wait until dad’s meeting (upstairs) finished.

When Dad finally wrapped up, it was already sunset so we prayed Maghrib first. Mum insisted that I wear a mask. I didn’t want to because it looked silly but I wore it anyway to appease her, then took it off once I was in the car. The town centre was deserted. There was no one about. Even the hoodied teenagers who usually loitered by the wall murals were nowhere to be seen. A few shops had signs up that said ‘closed due to the virus.’ Dad sighed, “this is very bad for business. I’m not sure how many of them will make it out afterwards.”

But when we got to Dally’s, it was all lit up and the ‘open’ sign was hanging on the door. Through the window, I could see Mrs Shawwal leaning on the counter looking a bit bored. When we stepped in and the bell rang, she jumped up with excitement and rushed over to us. “Subhan Allah!” she exclaimed, “a human person, two what’s more! I thought I was the last one left!”



Continuing the story of the semi-fictional journal entries of a child, based on what is happening. Taking inspiration from real life scenarios; a little of the sad and grave aspects, a lot of the uplifting, rallying together aspects. Chapters are about all the community work that is really happening, looking after neighbours and the elderly, ways children can and are preoccupying themselves, and inward reflection.

Good for kids to read, being written in a child’s voice. Short chapters with original illustrations.

(NB: this chapter is set before the lockdown.)