Mask Dilemma by Elaine Peters

The blue and white protective face mask fluttered to the floor as the girl walked off down the road. Should Pat pick it up? Probably not, but then she might be looking for it later. She might not be allowed into a shop for essential supplies if she didn’t have her mask. She might be desperate for a pint of milk or a can of beans, or her mother might be waiting for a crucial ingredient for the evening meal. She looked young enough to live at home. 

Pat worried about young people and families in these awful times. She herself was fine, retired with a good pension, bubbled with her gentleman friend – she hastened to assure everyone it was just a platonic relationship, she wouldn’t want any confusion over that. Just someone nice to have meals with, and in the old days to accompany her to the cinema and to visit National Trust gardens in summer. Now her outings were confined to the local supermarket once a week. 

But people struggling in high-rise flats with three kids under six. What was it like for them? Pat thought the girl didn’t look old enough, but who knew? 

She had paused to look in a shop window down the road. Near enough for Pat to catch her up and give her the mask. 

Decision time. She could pick it up and say ‘Is this your mask?’ and the girl could say ‘Thank you so much, that’s very kind of you. I must have dropped it’. On the other hand, Pat thought, she might well say ‘Mind your own business, you silly old cow. I threw it away.’ 

Pat sighed. On reflection, she’d leave well enough alone.

Published in Issue #7

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