Carol followed the back alley quickly. She thought no one had seen her when she crossed the main road. She knew the back ways in the town very well, but there were new things to worry about these days. There had been Covid Martials back at the crossroads, but she thought she had slipped away before they saw her.
She felt some relief that she was nearly there now - her hour of exercise was nearly up and the compulsory tracking app would start beeping shortly. Her one visit of the day would cancel the timer for an hour.
The back street opened out onto a road. There was no one about. She looked up for the cameras. They were pointing away from her. She quickly crossed the road to a small Victorian house.
Shortly after she knocked on the door, Jack opened it.
“What are you doing here?” he said.
“Just a quick visit for a coffee. How are the boys?”
He let her in begrudgingly and made to keep his distance. She ignored this and walked through to the kitchen and began to make coffee.
“The boys are at the state school this week,” he said
She looked at him and he avoided her gaze.
“I don’t agree with them being vaxxed every week to go there, you know that.”
“It’s not up to you anymore. It’s not up to me.”
“I have a boat,” she said. “I’ve learnt to sail it. We can take them away. The boat is at the port.”
“Live on a boat with you? You must be mad.”
“I knew you’d be like that.”
Jack walked out of the kitchen into the sitting room. She watched him go. As he went, she removed a small jar from her pocket and with a shaking hand put several drops in his cup. Snatching a glance to the door, she pocketed the jar. The percolator started to boil and splutter. She could see Jack’s legs as he slouched on the sofa. Quickly making the coffee, she went through with the cups. He sipped his as she sat across from him.
“By god that coffee’s become bitter,” he said. “I better get a new packet delivered.”
She knew Jack always drank his coffee quickly. Quietly she watched him drain it.
“It’s bitter because I poisoned you.”
He stared at her wide eyed.
“Why the fuck would you do that?” he tried to rise but already his limbs looked glued to the sofa. “You bitch, you’re…” his jaw was going limp, his tongue lolled out and he was unable to say more.
“I told you Jack, I told you I wanted to take the boys away from this Covid state. I’ve fixed it all - the boat, the tracking app. I got it hacked - it cost a lot, but it’s worth it, Jack. You wouldn’t listen to me when I said I didn’t want the boys vaxxed, when you took them away from me after you snitched me to the Covid state. I’ve sorted it to get them sent to me at the boat.”
Jack had slumped on his side. His eyes were fading, but she could tell he was still alive, just.
“Someone should have told you, Jack,” she said as she walked to the door and opened it. “You should never get between a woman and her children.”
She slipped out of the door and closed it.