Early morning. I am walking around the local supermarket. I want to get lunch now and not later because it is now quiet. It will not be around lunchtime.
I walk towards the dairy section and I feel a little itch in my throat. Like, a little thingy that you would normally cough off immediately.
But these are Covid times. One does not cough in public. Not even when wearing a mask and keeping ones distance!
The itch gets a little worse with every breath. It would be easier if I could stop breathing but that would bring other problems, I am sure, and would probably attract attention.
The little itch in my throat is now at the threshold of really needing to cough, that feeling when you start to deliberately tense your belly in order to not let your chest contract involuntarily. It is funny how bodies work but it is instinctive.
I decide on the counterintuitive and breathe deeply. It works. I can sustain my non-coughing status just long enough to go to check-out (self- this time because I don’t want to risk speaking!) and give the staff a friendly smile – that they do not see because of the face mask but it’s the thought that counts.
I step outside, relieved and ready to let the cough loose.
It’s gone. I don’t cough.