Another day pretending to be busy. Carving hours, making them clean, not bleeding into each other. Paused external life has made me dormant, as if the fire flickering out, connecting with others’ flames has gone.

Time folds into itself. My mother leaves a text message ­–What would you like for your birthday?– and I’m startled by a lack of desire for any object or experience, the dimming urge to speak to friends. I’ve been crouched at the starting line, legs taut and aching for too long and am now stretched on the ground, gaze fixed on a sky where even the clouds have stilled.

But decelerated time has not stopped – yielding tight buds of blossom, my children’s limbs stretching like taffy, my own body’s cells shifting and renewing, making me a year older. Outside the kitchen stands a garden pot. I had thrust calla bulbs deep into the soil, covering them with my hands. The plant’s lustrous leaves delighted me, then withered and browned. The flowers of my wedding bouquet never came and the barren earth mocked me. Except I was mistaken. Two emerald shoots had broken through and were slinking upwards, greedy for sunlight. Not dead but dormant.  

St Vincent garden is a patchwork of picnic rugs and sprawled families as I cross it with a friend, my dog tugging at the end of her leash on a dappled path beneath the fig trees. As we emerge from the shade, exuberant sun pours, filling us as we pull out our masks to catch air. I carry a sloshing plastic cup of wine and we talk about other things, but it’s hard with elastic digging behind our ears, wine in plastic cups and lolling picnickers. We’re sluggish with apathy but hide it, pausing on a park bench, my dog nudging her head between my legs as our stories about the past weave and overlap.

How we used to live feels distant. But the shoots in my garden remind me renewal is coming, my friend and I will sit together at my house and clink glasses, and everything will clamour and spin as before.