THE opposite OF JOY
By Ryan S. - Age 12 - New York, New York
Ryan hopes to go back to school in the Fall and that this submission will satisfy his English teacher so he doesn't have to do it again.
My Sister is coughing
By Tina Fults - Age 16 - Washington State
I hear my sister coughing. She’s six.
It’s a dry cough. A rhythmic pattern: Eh. Eh. Eh.
She clears her throat. A sputtering: Eh-hem-huh-hem-hum.
She gasps loudly. An extended, exhausted inhale: Heeeee.
I run to her room.
Two dolls in her hands.
One says, “Can’t come too close.
I’ve got the sick.”
By Casey - Age 9 - New York State
Every day, I call my dad from across the city.
Today, he couldn't stop telling me how much he missed me.
I lost count of how many it's been since he was with me.
As soon as this is over, he promised to go fishing.
Casey's dad is an essential worker who is quarantining with a coworker because Casey's sister is immunocompromised. During quarantine, they connect through FaceTime and by playing video games together. Casey says the worst part of quarantine is having more time to hike and fish but not being able to go. The best part is all the video games.
By Ben D. - Age 10 - South Jersey
Ben is a homeschooler who loves nothing about quarantine but enjoys football, video games, and eating. He misses his friends... a lot.
ART & MUSIC
Coming to Peace with the Consistency of Time
By Annalise Micus - Age 17 - Grand Rapids, Michigan
I find it interesting how panic is so frequently successful at overpowering intuition. The most fascinating part about this phenomenon is the obsessive nature it encourages: the hoarding of masks and food, and the constant refreshing of a map with confirmed COVID 19 cases, as if knowing the numbers of the infected would somehow answer a question deeper than how many now?
With all of this at the beginning of quarantine, I became increasingly nervous that amidst the constant transfer between universal boredom and anxiety, so many other important events would go uncelebrated, unmourned, and--worst of all--unknown (such as oil wars, bombings, earthquakes, disappearing penguins, and the unrelated deaths).
I wanted to believe that human beings are more centered than this, more generous than this, and more resilient than this--that we would be the protagonists who bettered in the face of controversy rather than the antagonists who lost sight of a world without misery.
That our built in crisis response defaults towards reason and good, not chaos.
Eventually, humanity found itself again, and the world began applauding frontline workers, donating to organizations, supporting local businesses, and becoming an outlet of positivity and hope, social media was soon taken over by “Some Good News” by John Krasinski, or hashtags like “healthcare heroes,” or a plethora of friendly challenges to keep occupied.
After realizing that my desire for a unified and selfless society was fulfilled, the excessive amount of time left on my hands revealed my own faults in light of this pandemic. Since the start of self-isolation, my restless nature and disgust of being “stuck” in one place had increased ten-fold, my jealousy had spiked to sickening levels seeing friends who lived anywhere warmer or sunnier than Michigan (or celebrities attempting to be relatable from their L.A. mansions with pools and movie theaters), and this all led to frustrated mental collapses at the prolonged thought of the length and predictability of my days.
Then it hit me.
I am seventeen years old.
My life is not over, it is just paused with the rest of the society, and my reaction to this proved that I was no better than the fraudulent Matt Colvins’ of this world, the antagonist I had feared. Sure I was not retailing hand sanitizers for insane prices or wiping the shelves clean of toilet paper, but I was still letting these chaotic times dictate my thinking, rather than taking this time to improve.
In that sense, I had been losing a month long war without even noticing, and the enemy was time spent in ignorance.
In school I would always complain about the absence of time in my life to do what I wanted, and that days were being wasted and flying by without being appreciated. Now I have too much of it.
I have time to read the books I have been meaning to instead of enviously scrolling through Instagram, time to eat dinner with my family instead of rushing in between practice and homework, time to cook, to run, to play guitar, to write, to get in touch with friends, to do yoga, and--the most unnatural feeling for a highschooler--time to sleep.
In the same way that it urged me to do more, this overflow of minutes belonging to me also took away from the fear in the back of my mind that if I did not appreciate every second, I would be wasting my life.
I have finally accepted that it is my own responsibility to label time how I see it: good or bad, productive or wasted, but no matter what I choose, it will not stop, slow down, or speed up, but rather continue on at the same pace, the consistency of it is the subject of both my anxieties and my peace.
The days will once again be filled with unpredictability and adventure. In the meantime, they can be full of new hobbies, family dinners, and appreciation of the small things, all in the name of patient waiting.
By Franklin G. - Age 10 - Near Louisville, Kentucky
Franklin G. reporting. I don’t have a computer, Xbox, or phone. I wonder if anyone remembers I’m here. If I thought someone who wasn’t my sisters could hear it, I would scream into the empty street out front so that anyone at all knows I’m still alive. If I thought it wouldn’t kill my friends, I’d go throw rocks at their windows like they do in the movies. For now, this transmission will have to do. If you’re listening, I’ll see you when life goes back to normal. Over and out.
Franklin G. is 10 years old from “somewhere near Louisville, Kentucky.” He misses the library, his homeschool co-op, people who aren’t his sisters,
and food that isn’t pasta.
Sometimes I want to feel my anger,
but my gratitude journal won't let me linger
In my feelings of frustration
For the burdens of this situation.
"What are you thankful for?"
It mocks me every time it implores.
Today I'll write a page of rage instead.
Tomorrow, I'll write that I'm thankful I did.
Are we allowed to grieve?
Anonymous, Age 13
By Sarah Melody - Age 9 - Philadelphia, PA
Once, in New York City there lived a mother, a son, and two twin girls. The son was named Deric, one girl was named Marida, and the other sister was named Talia. They called their mother Mami.
Three years ago the father came home from work, but while Eating dinner (homemade pepperoni pizza) he collapsed. At the hospital, the doctor said he had heart disease and needed to stay at the hospital for a few more days. Three days passed and during visit time, he took his final breath.
From then on every dinner has been a homemade family recipe. Why? In every food they eat, memories flood to their heads. Memories--because food for this family is love for this family.
“Mami! We’re home!” Marida and Talia said as they walked through the wooden door. 3-year-old Deric and Mami were in the kitchen making chicken noodle soup.
“How was school my very mature 3rd graders?”
“It was so-so. But we both got a B+ on our history test.”
“Well, why don’t you sit down for dinner? You two must be very hungry.”
As the four took a spoonful of the soup, they heard a clatter. “M-m-ma-a-a-m-i?”
”Chicken noodle soup was Grandma’s favorite soup.” Mami explained.
”Grandma’s spirit must have come to taste her joy.”
Mami poured a bowl of soup and placed a spoon next to it. The spoon came off the counter and plunged into the soup. Moments later there remained no more soup in the bowl except for four drops. The four of them each drank one of the drops that grandma left. “Mami! Memories of Grandma! So many of them!”
“Oh, me too!”
“I guess as Grandma ate, parts of her went into the soup, purposely," answered Mami.
The next night they made chicken dumplings. And another sudden crash.
“Mami? Who’s favorite food was chicken dumpling?” asked Deric.
“Uncle Sam,” answered Mami.
Again, Mami placed food on their invisible guest’s plate. A fork stabbed a dumpling and and a few moments later just half a dumpling on the plate. The four divided the half a dumpling and ate. “So many memories. Said Marida, “Memories I never even remembered!”
It was pepperoni pizza night. “Pepperoni pizza was dad's favorite food!” Talia said. There was already a slice for dad. The clatter came. The food eaten. The crust was the only thing left. They divided it into four. “But all the good memories of dad are already here!”, said Deric. But instead of memories, they ate his love.
Sara Melody is a homeschooler who loves singing, dancing, acting and creating of all kinds. She also loves playing with friends and traveling with her family. She is really into graphic novels right now. Sara misses seeing her friends a lot, but she is trying to make the best of being quarantined and enjoys all the extra baking that's happening in the house.
A Journal Entry
By Jazmine - Age 17 - Washington, DC
I don't think it took me long to get used to things changing because I knew it needed to happen. I just wish it didn't take me a virus to reset. Running for the bus to class to practice then homework and barely squeezing in time with friends. I don't feel like I need that kind of life back. Instead, I'm trying to make sure I don't fall back into that pattern.
A few weeks ago, my nana used FaceTime for the first time, and she pointed the camera right up her nose. She smiled so big that it was all I could see on the screen. I want more simple joys like that.
Somehow, even though I don't think any of us knows when this will end, I'm still anxiously dreading how easily we'll all go back to the way things were instead of letting this experience change us for the better.
I remember the day was blunt
And the trees were still
The sky was a pale blue
But the sun was hidden
Behind a swarm of clouds.
The park was silent
And the baseball field sat untouched
The grass was up to my ankle
And the garden laid dead in the mud
The birds forgot to sing
And the bees forgot to buzz
The air wasn’t warm nor cold
The slight breeze made the grass away
And then the sun finally woke up
Out of a deep sleep
And glazed my face with warmth
By Emily Rose Grassi - Age 12
with my dog
By Jess - 4th Grade - Newark, NJ
My dog is happy that we're home
Because he doesn't really know
How scary it is outside
I wonder what he's barking at
When he looks out the window
I bet he wonders why humans wear masks
When we go outside now
I'm glad that someone's happy
With a tail so waggy
Unafraid of what's outside
Monday, March 10, 2020
6:30 AM: I used to wake up
6:45: Well, this is probably more accurate
7:05: Last alarm goes off
7:30: On the bus
8:31: Late to math
1 PM: My favorite class
... Classes, practice, homework
Monday, April 20, 2020
... Oh, it's Tuesday?
By Anthony- 9th Grade - Newark, NJ