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stay at home, save lives

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Liz is trying to ignore that Finn exists but, as usual, he’s making it impossible. The fact that she’s getting used to this is distressing in itself. Forcing Finn to stay home, she has realised, is like locking a hyper-productive monkey in a cage. In the past two days alone, he’s fixed their fridge, replaced all the lightbulbs, and subjected their cat to not one but two baths. Poor Boudie is currently cowering in her lap, terrified at the sight of even a glass of water.

This morning, Liz had been jolted awake by what sounded like their roof crashing down. But it was only Finn, giving the loft a “spring clean”. Three cups of coffee later, Liz’s mood hasn’t improved. She shoots Finn another hard glare from the couch, but he’s still peering out the window with those damn binoculars he’d found in the loft.

‘Are you going be there all day?’ she asks.

‘Yes, because I can’t trust these fuckers to stay inside.’

‘Why do you even have them?’ she probes. ‘Relic from your tabloid days? Are there some telephoto lenses I should know about, too?’

All she gets is a flicker of annoyance. ‘You do know that some people have hobbies, right, Liz? Take, for example, birdwatching?’

Other people have hobbies,’ she says, correcting him. ‘You have obsessions.’

‘I knew it!’ shouts Finn, ignoring her, his fists clenching. Boudie hisses in alarm. ‘I knew our neighbour was sneaking out, the bastard.’

‘Nope, we are definitely not the Stasi,’ mutters Liz under her breath. Thank fuck he didn’t manage to smuggle a loudhailer from the office or they’d be in big trouble. ‘Finn, put those fucking things down and get your stupidly attractive ass over here. We’ve got a conference call in ten.’

Instead of coming over, she watches him grasp blindly for his phone. ‘What now?’

‘I’m calling the police. He’s not getting away with it this time…’

We are the police – look, why don’t you just submit a report to Charles when he comes online?’

Finn scoffs, finally tearing away from the window. ‘You think Charles is going to let me get a word in edgeways about lockdown breakers after –’

She groans. ‘Oh god, not this shit again.’

‘What? You said you needed help with the Twitter Q&As.’

‘Yes, I said I needed help, not the whole of Twitter imploding in our faces,’ she says through gritted teeth. ‘I can’t believe after years of actively avoiding our Q&As, you just had to go out there and say “scum of the earth”…’

‘The guy was asking what our opinions on lockdown breakers were. I was being open and transparent,’ he says a little too smugly.

Liz sees red. ‘Don’t you dare turn that on me –’

‘Ah, yes,’ continues Finn blithely. ‘The good old drum of openness and transparency isn’t so fun when you aren’t the one banging it, is it?’

Liz raises herself on the couch, forgetting that Boudie is still on her lap. With a final, reproachful hiss at both of them, their cat runs out of the living room.

Finn is still in mid-rant when Liz marches over and yanks the binoculars out of his hands. Her face is flushed with anger… and something more ignitable. He swallows heavily when she steps right in front of him.

‘You sure you wanna talk about banging, Finn?’ she purrs, a dangerous glint in her eye. ‘Seeing that you’re the second biggest drum in my inventory?’

‘You saying I’m not the biggest?’ His voice sounds weak even to his ears, as his brain screams at him that this – among other things – is a gross breach of social distancing guidelines.

‘Prove it then.’

He glances over at the laptop on the coffee table. ‘How many minutes have I got?’

‘Five,’ she says briskly as she launches herself on top of him. In seconds, she’s got Finn pinned against the wall, panting.

‘Liz, wait – stop –’

She backs off, suddenly concerned. ‘What is it?’

‘Can we move away from the window first?’