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Lockdown in Spain: Days 10 through 15 – life in quarantine in a foreign country

Updated: Feb 21, 2021

Photo by Marcus Slease.


We continue our time in Spain with Bear Review contributor Marcus Slease. These are days 10 through 15. This is a daily record, via an autofictional account, of his experiences.

Haines Eason

Co-editor, Bear Review



Trying not to think about getting it, the practicalities, two people in a small flat, there is no way to isolate from each other, who will get the groceries, they have no friends in the city, they have friends in other countries, mainly in London, family in Utah and Katowice, and here in Spain some friends in other cities, Madrid and Barcelona and Olesa, they are too far away to help each other with groceries, but they can speak on social media, online drinks via video, how did people communicate during pandemics without the internet, a payphone with cloth and mask, long lines and rationing, or a letter taking weeks to arrive.


The new technology is also a virus, spreading misinformation, and the U.S. president at the centre of it, calling anyone or anything who doesn’t agree with him fake news, more and more acts of a despot, trying to intimate reporters and whistle blowers, ignoring the reports of international scientists, the virus a hoax from the opposite political party, his political party too scared to impeach him, we’ve been here before in our human history, is democracy failing?


The last financial crisis, from 12 years ago, is still being felt in this country, corona bonds or more debt for Spain and Italy, high unemployment, now much higher, the health system buckling, will the European Union come together, or move further apart, the whole world tilting, the rich hoarding the riches, will they help out the poorer, Germany and Austria refusing, what is the point of a united Europe, they have to come together, or move further apart, a crossroads with Brexit and Euroskeptics, the whole world closing borders, what kind of new world will come after?


They did not move in hysteria, hoarding medical masks, since the health workers needed them, but now if they need them, where will they get them, keep stacking up the groceries, a two week supply in case of self isolating, keep rubbing down the groceries with alcohol, quarantining them on a special shelf for 3 days before eating, slow down on the use of electricity (it costs too much to cook soup, fresh food requires more electricity), lentils and more lentils, rice and vegetables, will they freeze the bills for electricity?


When the virus came to Spain, it gathered momentum quickly. The fear. Death is hanging over us, always, but it is here even closer, disrupting our usual distractions. Fear and more fear. Did you touch it? Do I bleach it? How do we boost our immune systems? The numbers are spiking rapidly, Spain is following the trend of Italy. On the streets an increase in masks, maybe 90%. Glass barriers between people and cashiers, plastic gloves before entering the grocery shops, some people blow on their gloves to inflate them, counter- intuitive, the virus spreading from mouth, some people spreading the disease faster and faster with protective equipment, gloves touching everything and then smoking with them, if you meet someone you know, establish hand signals, two people that know each other can’t be seen together, no walking outside for exercise, people only talk to each other from their balconies, banging pots and pans, sometimes whistles, two people confined together become one person, temporarily, time is moving more slowly, but also quickly, time is more and more, and less and less, reviewing your life history as death moves in closer, what are you made of really?


I can’t believe it, she thinks, I was hoping for so much to happen and now it is not happening, or will happen later, or maybe it will not happen at all, the lost potentials, my hands are tired from grating carrots, she thinks, staying healthy is a priority, not just the virus and what it may or may not do to our bodies, but also the overcrowded and collapsing hospitals in this foreign land with a smattering of the language, but there is enough of the language to interact with official government officials so there is probably enough for interacting with the hospitals, equally concerning are the masks, how they don’t have them and where to find them in case of emergencies, Alice in Chains is playing on Spotify, he was hot, she thinks, reliving her youthful vigorous energy, when everything was in front of her and now it is more and more behind her, but maybe there is also something more in front of me, she thinks, there is this now, homemade falafel and carrot salad for dinner.


Marcus Slease is a (mostly) absurdist, surrealist and minimalist writer from Portadown, N. Ireland. He is the author of The Green Monk, The Spirit of the Bathtub and Play Yr Kardz Right, among others. His writing has appeared in various magazines and anthologies, including: Tin House, Best British Poetry, Versopolis Review, Poetry and Fence. Currently, he lives in Castelldefels, Spain and teaches high school literature in Barcelona. Never Mind the Beasts, a novel in micro fictions, is forthcoming from Dostoyevsky Wannabe in May 2020. Find out more on his website: Never Mind the Beasts and follow him on Twitter: @postpran


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