Funny how reality can glitch in an instant,
disrupting your normal the same way
water-downed wifi broils your laptop
hotter than the afternoon sun on your neck
that wakes you from a night spent on the couch.
Through the awkward conference calls
and blurry screens—
courtesy of your now virtual 925—
your boss catches you rubbing the knots
out of your neck.
But you’re content because you only have to dress
from the waist
while time moves agonizingly slow.
Life wasn’t meant to be a metronome
so you keep time in the movies you slept through
and the crossword puzzles you never finished.
You’re bored again so you start another
lap around the street
but as your masked neighbor approaches
something tells you maybe you should move six feet.
So maybe fear is the only thing that spreads faster than the virus.
Now you avoid the news
the same way your kid avoids online schooling;
tell you that it seems so pointless
when learning isn’t justified by arbitrary test scores.
Life feels so pointless
when you can’t do anything
to make it mean something.
Suddenly you find yourself
in the middle of a major historical event.
How come it doesn’t feel like you’re making history
when you ransack the barren shelves
for paper towels?
But you rather let your cracked hands air-dry anyway;
your paranoia has turned them into sandpaper.
Now a friend of a friend has it,
and the fear claws its way out of your throat.
Quick! Douse the house in bleach
and scrub your skin clean until you hit bone!
Never mistake a sense of normalcy for immunity.
And so it drags on,
luring your sleep further into the day
and drawing out any semblance of sanity that remains.
Figures that once seemed larger than life
now appear smaller than the microbe ravaging
they offer nothing more than empty words
and empty promises that ring hollow of empathy.
As if to deflect long-overdue denunciation,
they call grocery workers heroes.
But they don’t look like heroes—
they look like desperate people who need a better wage.
And just like that, the virus has become a magician.
With one swift whirl of a tablecloth,
the model minority myth crumbles
and Mother Earth revives.
You hate the way the guilt sticks to your
overgrown hair and clings onto
every complaint that spills out of your ungrateful mouth;
you fight for the last carton of eggs
when someone fights for their last breath.
Life becomes its very own paradox
when the fresh air becomes suffocating
because there’s no one to share it with.
You rather drink in the stuffy fervor of that
god awful restaurant that you haven’t stepped
you hope it won’t be a year.
You’re too ashamed to admit
when it’s really late at night
you reach out
through the overheated mesh of pixels because
it’s the closest thing to the warmth
of human touch.
And that’s when you find yourself
from the feeling of being invincible.
They say the worst of times brings out the best in people.
Imagine how wonderful the day will be
when we can all stand under the sun
Simone Liang is seventeen years old and attends Southeast High School.