Byte Shorts Showcase: Love in the Time of Coronovirus by Perri Lister

Posted by Justine Solomons on 9 April 2020, in News, Writers

Have you ever been told such a huge and dreadful lie, so all encompassing, so monstrous that it takes form and swallows you whole like the whale in Moby Dick. You are somehow still alive in the foul stench of the belly of the beast, but wishing with each passing moment that you could self-induce a coma to escape the next few days and nights of agony and torment. While awake you drink whiskey to numb the senses, eventually the blanket of sleep brings brief respite as in your feverish dreaming the one you pray to forget stands over you laughing repeating those hurtful words, “Let’s be friends”. After three days of sweating in your cocoon of misery the whale spits you out, you surface, swim to shore and try to shed the shoals of betrayal that you wear, a heavy overcoat of shame.

I don’t give my heart easily but when that dashing ‘Indiana Jones’ adventurer leapt aboard our boat on a stormy afternoon in February he scooped out my heart like an oyster chucker. He promised me the moon and stars, we looked at houses, I thought this is the one, I will never be alone again. Not once did I hear the voice of reason screaming ‘This is too good to be true, make some enquiries, where has your pragmatic self gone?’I give such sensible advice to my friends, it’s a shame I don’t listen to it myself. I am not one to wallow in my misery though and after a few months of nightly boozing and daily trips to the gym kick boxing, spinning, rowing and other various exercises to work out the putrid anger that I felt towards myself, how could I be so stupid? I’m old enough to know better, what the fuck was I thinking? I convinced myself I was over it, I would buy some new clothes, get a haircut and reinvent myself.

“Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more” as Shakespeare said. So I left the south of France and came home to England to see old friends and have a good laugh. A few weeks after landing at Heathrow I am dining at one of my favourite pubs in Marlowe with my dear friend Ronnie, he is from Detroit but has lived in the UK for 20 years so hardly American at all, but like most yanks loves to talk to anyone and everyone. He strikes up conversation with the charming gentleman at the next table, his name is Paul and we talk for hours, we converse and laugh with such ease I get the feeling I have known him for years, we swap numbers and as we say goodbye I kiss him gently on his cheek, an electric current dances down my spine and I know we will see each other again. He calls and we go on a few enjoyable dates and then like a dark portentous sky Coronavirus descends upon the world and within a fortnight everyone’s lives are dramatically altered. No more work, no going out, unless absolutely necessary, but who can make the decision on what is essential to one’s physical and mental well- being? Paul decides we have to see each other and I agree, he lives in Berkshire and I in London so he drives to pick me up and I spend the weekend in his aesthetically pleasing apartment. We go for long walks by the river and I feel the early symptoms of romance, a troop of fairies tap dancing on my belly as he takes my hand, I can almost hear “One singular sensation, every move that he makes!” from ‘A Chorus Line’. The way he looks at me makes my heart beat faster and my knees are weak, as if I have just sang my heart out on ‘The Voice’ and all three judges have spun round to face me. The love sickness is taking hold!

We lay in bed neither one of us wanting to leave, I hear my phone ping so I reach for it and read a text from my roommate: My elderly parents can’t cope on their own, so they are moving in on Wednesday, I am so sorry to make you leave at this awful time but you know only too well the devastating effects of dementia and I know you will understand that they need my help now more than ever. Your friend always M X

My father suffered from dementia and I watched the most vibrant, witty man I  have ever known robbed of his mind by a brutal thief, as if cutting a Rembrandt from it’s frame, so of course I understand. My mind starts racing, I am trying to imagine the various friends I can impose upon but these are unprecedented conditions and in every imagined scenario the conversation does not end well. My usual bolthole is my brother’s in France but with all travel suspended that is not an option. My brow furrowed, gazing at my phone like a crystal ball, Paul asks if I’m alright, I consider putting on the ‘brave face’ and lying but it’s pointless so I read him the text. He says, “Move in with me” and just as quickly I reply, “I’d love to”

Ten days later and all is good, no, much better than good, f***ing fantastic! We may have eventually moved in together and grown into a deep and loving relationship but these enforced conditions have exponentially speeded up the process and we are completely, madly in love! We spend a lot of time together, we make love at least twice a day, I feel like a teenager. Anyone that says, “You can’t rely on another person for your happiness” has obviously never been in love. I am Baryshnikov flying through the air in Romeo and Juliet, I am Yehudi Menuin playing Albinoni’s Adagio to eight thousand tearful people at the Hollywood Bowl, I am Dr. Fitzpatrick the supervet watching the once crippled ‘Fluffy’ run like a champ after I performed the miracle stem cell operation. Virus what virus?

I am deliriously oblivious to what is happening in the outside world but I know this isn’t real life and my bubble may burst any day, but right now I am so happy and grateful to be healthy and alive as soon as we can get tested I will volunteer to help those less fortunate in any way that I can, but until then I thought this story may lift someone’s spirits.


If you are interested in showcasing one of your short stories  please get in touch at

Perri Lister is a Dancer, Choreographer, Singer, Actress, Writer.

A member of Hot Gossip from 1979 - 1984 performing on the popular Kenny Everett Show.

Choreographer for numerous worldwide headlining bands such as, Duran Duran, XTC, Sparks, YES, The Stranglers, Def Leppard to name but a few.

A member of hit groups of the 1980's Visage, Kid Creole and The Coconuts, and Boomerang

Currently working on her upcoming auto-biography "Kiss Me Deadly" Her life before, during and after Billy Idol,

You can get in touch with Perri via her website here.




christopher lister

Well done Perri. ! Frank and heartfelt (although your ‘daily double’ made me blush)

Interest declared……I’m her brother.

Andi Ali

I wish your sister would stop pissing about and finish the book, I’ve been dying to read it for the last year.

Graham Wilson

I feel compelled to make a comment as I have a similar story from the other side of the fence, at the end of last year I met a lady who I fell in love with ,completely in tune , the similarities between our 2 stories are amazing!
Having shared a couple of dates she disappeared to her brothers in France as she had been made homeless by a friend ,we kept in contact and although we had great conversations they were always dictated by a need for money and to find accommodation ,but although alarm bells were ringing my ego kicked in , plus although her life had taken its toll you could see she must have been very attractive in her younger days!
She came back to England and we went away for 4 days , I was in heaven it was all I had imagined , she was the one , but the doubts about her motives still persisted , more requests for money , we had a falling out ,she had again been made homeless and returned to France to her brothers ,weeks passed we made contact just before Christmas and amazingly rekindled our desire to make a life together, she would return to England in February and we would start a life together ! At the eleventh hour I saw the light ,it wasn’t me she wanted at all, but her way out of living in friends spare rooms , it was still a hard decision to make , lots of vitriol came my way , and strangely that helped me realise I was being used!
Leap forward to April and I read a story of a lady with the same lifestyle problems , meets man in pub who happens to be single has a coupe of dates , and although a virus is sweeping the country and once again finding herself homeless and running out of options she has found love again , her life has fallen into place , a perfect ending to a tragic story !
So perfect that like an ageing reality star there’s a need to tell the world you make love twice a day , everyday !
I think there might be a book in the making a possible title could be “Any port in a storm”!


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