85558e23-57eb-4cda-ae3e-f23ac9b37a31Fingers jitter in overcharged stimulation. An empty mug of caf claims guilt to that, the second strong one of the day. My body, seated with a portable terminal on my lap, jeers , wanting to stand, wanting to move around; craving activity.

The mug, stands cool and dark, backlit with the light of an overcast day. The blue skies of the weekend are over, replaced with unending smokey grey. It doesn’t really matter, to be honest; there’s not much difference made in how we will live. Blue, grey, or the sullen dark of night – they are all on the other side of the hab’s window, most of the time.

As lockdown sank its teeth ever further, routine broke down among us all. Life is viewed in fleeting excursions, through comm chats, terminal screens, or through the narrow ports that provide our view of the outside.  And it is heard through the walls and ceiling of the hab block.

The neighbours, who had similar routines before lockdown, have changed in their habits, too. The thumping tread of 0600 starts has become lie-ins to 0830, matching mine. I am no longer the sole flicker of life in the late night, I hear the man above me moving long after his partner retreats to her sleep pod. By 0200, no doors are opening or closing, it is just me and him. I sometimes hear his tired steps overhead, as he too retreats to sleep. We have all shifted our schedules. With the Commuting ecosystem at a standstill the morning is no longer the dominion of the trooping masses. They, like much of the world, lie at rest. Waiting.

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I need the caf today. I decided to get up for a run at 0700 – which before lockdown wouldn’t have been early. In this time, though, I had the world to myself for much of it, even in a place as heavily populated as Citadel. I was up a full 90 minutes earlier than usual, and I felt it. Now fully awake post-run, the caf still sparks life into a body surprised by the change.

It was a reflective run, on a quiet day. I ran along silent speedways, following the rise and fall of the land, enjoying the contrast of technology and nature. In these times, and in this place, in this season… the world is at peace; seemingly in balance. Greenery lines the way and technology rises above. Comm towers and flood lights stand sentinel above all, guarding our progress.

It is an illusion. I know that mankind has ravaged our world, but in the moments of calm that Lockdown has bought I can see something else. I see the silent, confident, weave of a solitary cat passing through a bush, and the glide of crows between trees. With the heavy pressure of humanity removed, there is something else present. A spirit of nature, perhaps.

This place was once woodland, servicing the murky past of Citadel – a time when it was nothing but wood and smoke and mud, a place of trading on a river. Back then, the area in which I now live fed it timber, wood for walls and fire. This place was once forest.

I wonder, in these quiet times, if it starts to remember.

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