by Ella Wilkes, 04/10/2020, Traverse City, MI

Middle School 6-8 Category

As of me writing this, it’s Wednesday, April 8th, 2020, precisely 12:59.
There are dark, sagging bags under my eyes from lack of sleep, a pounding ache in my head, a ragged stiffness in my shoulders and every muscle, most likely because I’ve been sitting around, doing nothing, for upwards a month now. Everyone else has been doing the same. Probably feel the same way, too.
Fed up. Exhausted. Anxious. Confused. Unmotivated. Agitated. It – this horrid pandemic – is like a swirling, suffocating cesspool of negativity, a fearful, threatening vortex seeking to swallow us whole, whether that through be actually infecting us or producing enough paranoia and dread to drive anyone insane. You can’t set foot anywhere without being reminded of its bleak, looming presence, sneering down at the microscopic mass of humanity, thriving off of our deteriorating livelihoods. It’s sickening… no pun intended.
Covid-19, coronavirus, whatever it may be that you call it, no matter how much I or others try to rationalize it as, is not a stereotypical, cold, callused villain. It’s an unfortunate reality, sprung on for an entirely unknown reason. There may not even be a reason for it at all. It’s just fulfilling its natural cycle, just as any other organism does.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t doing its fair share of damage, however.
In fact, the entire world is gripped in a mind-boggling panic. The common populus, panic-shopping, stocking up on supplies, purchasing items for home defense, as if the apocalypse were breaking out. The usually bustling city streets are deserted, like the nothingness of a ghost town had spilled over the sidewalks, cascading over rooftops, flooding the roads and alleyways. Doctors seem to be working harder than they ever have before, constantly swarming the news with updates about the virus, from symptoms to precautions to expected peaks in numbers to expected increase of the mortality rate. No information we receive has 100% validity. Numbers of infected patients grow faster than a cure could ever keep pace with.
It’s 1:39. 40 minutes of typing and I’ve barely scratched the surface.
There’s immense strain on every party possible. Face masks, groceries, and hand sanitizer in the United States are at a nation-wide low. Restaurants, wineries, department stores, all businesses deemed non-essential are completely shut down. You cannot travel anywhere with more than ten people in one place, and if you do, your temperature is required to be taken, you must wash your hands every other second, it feels like, and doing simple, everyday tasks like opening doors is a constant gamble. Visiting the grocery store is like preparing to perform a liver transplant, complete with face masks, surgical gloves, curtains that act as barriers between customer and cashier, whatever you might imagine.
Thanks to the blessing of modern-day technology, students have to take online courses, teachers having no other choice than to put their faith solely in their students to complete work and check emails. School is cancelled for the rest of the year. Seniors don’t get prom or graduation. A few weeks ago, President Trump closed off all international travel to and from the US, meaning there are thousands of citizens across many countries stuck in a foreign nation during this madness. It’s almost impossible to tell if this will ever end or not.
I don’t think online school is worthwhile at this point. Me, personally, I need to be physically involved with a lesson in order to absorb information and learn. But, needless to say, physical contact with many outsiders is the last thing professionals are advising for everyone’s safety, so we just need to grit our teeth and bear through it, for now. My mom and older brother went to a shooting range and purchased two guns, my mom a Sig Sauer 9 millimeter and my brother a 30 OT 6 rifle. This wasn’t an impulsive decision, as my parents had been discussing home safety ever since a drunk man attempted to break into our rental house a couple years back. But the virus contributed to the decision, and having these extremely powerful, deadly weapons in our home makes me very fearful. But, then again, I’ve been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety, so I’m not exactly a brave soul.
That’s pretty much what I – and every other common person – know at this point. Tomorrow, I expect thousands of more cases to be confirmed in Michigan alone. But, of course, I can’t be certain.
Nothing seems certain anymore.