Updated: Dec 16, 2020
By: Jaylee Flowers
Things are changing. They say the world is spinning but sometimes I wonder if the world is even truly spinning anymore. Death creeps on my shoulder and when I close my eyes I can see somebody's grandmother's aging hands clutching onto me. She’s no longer here, of course and the news is saying it's a virus that attacks your immune system. Something like the flu but 10 times worse. Now I have to wear a mask to class and somehow move on from the piles of bodies or the voices of dead people I sometimes hear before I sleep, which is something I can rarely even do now - sleep.
What if I close my eyes and this virus gets me in my sleep? What if I close my eyes and I wake up in heaven? What if I close my eyes and wake up to a body in a morgue standing in front of my shriveled body. No longer pumping blood, no longer beating with what used to be a broken heart before this virus even decided to step foot onto this planet. If I could die at any given moment what is the point of trying to live?
Things are different. I don’t know how to move on and just sit back, wait. “This isn’t forever,” I’d tell myself. Yet life isn’t forever and what happens if by the time this ends, I have nothing left but a whole dug up for me and a coffin waiting to be held? I am lost because I don’t know the answers and nobody else seems to know them either. If only things could go back to the way they used to be. Even though what used to be wasn’t really all that great, it was better.
My father is angry. It seems like no one else can see it but me. He talks about the virus like it’s his favorite movie. Knowing line for line and each actor. It’s a political thing, the virus. They made it political. Biden or Trump? Biden wins?? But wait the votes were fake. Dead people are voting? Ballots are being thrown out into the dumpsters. The virus deaths in Florida are rising. Travel bans. Fourteen-day quarantines. Schools might close. Gyms might close. The virus doesn’t come out until after 9:30 p.m.
My mind is spinning more than I think this world will ever spin again. My mother is spinning out of control. My father is spinning besides her. We are all trapped in our houses trying to build a home during a pan-de-mic. A word every single person continues to use when trying to get a point across. “What’s your favorite activity..?” Well since we’re in a PANDEMIC there’s nothing I can do. “What color is the sky...?” We’re in a PANDEMIC, how should I know? ”Stupidity rises across the nation as does fear.
I wished on a shooting star for a change months ago, but this isn’t what I meant. Mask-wearing is the new normal. If you don’t wear one, consider yourself dead. But is that necessarily true? I pull mine down in the streets. On lunch break at work, I take a five-minute walk to the nearby sushi place. Every person I pass, half of their face is showing. Who are they? How can I recognize someone with half of their faces covered? People wear them of every color. Pink, blue, ones with phrases and quotes, some black. Is that racist? A black mask on a white person? What about a white mask on a black person? Wait, that isn’t right. Racism is only something that applies to black people. Reverse racism does not exist. I think to myself again, stupidity rises across the nation as does fear.
My mind is spinning with these thoughts. From the virus, to race, to everything that everyone seems to be fighting about. I completely ignore the women in front of me staring at me because of the placement of my mask. Under my chin, like a chin-diaper. A mask that does not benefit me in any way but leaves me breathless and with a canvas of scattered acne.I look back at her. She looks back at me. Is this a staring contest, I wonder. She looks at me and says a few sentences. Some meshed together because I am unable to fully hear her. Not from
hearing loss but because a mask ruins any functioning to have a normal and clear conversation.
“You need to put your mask on. You need to put your mask on. You put your mask on need. You your mask put need. You mask need put.” I ask her to repeat. This time she removes her mask and says, “You need to put your mask on.” The hypocrisy is incredible. I kindly looked at her and said, “Ok,” and continued moving on to my destination with my mask still on my chin.
You don’t have to do anything just because someone tells you to. With freedom comes the ability to self-govern and be your own individual. Wear a mask when you feel need be. But don’t wear one when you’re biking or on a run. Don’t be stupid just because you’re afraid. Be afraid because the world is trying to make everyone feel stupid. Be afraid because people are trying to control your freedoms. The world is becoming an ugly and scary place. Be afraid of that. Not something you, yourself can control. Like the bathroom walls say, “Sing happy birthday two times as you wash your hands. It can fight off the virus." Take the advice from the bathroom walls, not the media, not other people.
As I got to my destination I put my mask on walking into the sushi place. But as I walked out, my mask came off as well. People all around stared at me. Some even said some things like the woman who stopped me before. More spoke to me and others spoke to me with their eyes. Let them stare. Let the media talk about you. Let people worry. You are not the source of people's negative and psychotic feelings and emotions. Let people be angry. Maybe then, they’ll acknowledge the truth. Maybe then, they’ll go to sleep and no longer fear not waking up. Maybe then, the next time you go on your lunch break, or walk your dog, or go somewhere on foot, people will follow in your footsteps. Don’t be a sheep in a herd.
The writer, a student at NCC and member of The Voice newspaper club, uses a pen name.