80 comments

Contemporary Fiction

My hand reaches for the mask that still conveniently lies on the counter right next to the door.


I soon change its route, my hand instead pushing the door open and I walk outside.


Taking a breath of fresh air without a layer of plastic filtering it is a feeling I never thought I needed to experience.


But it is the most wonderful feeling in the world.


I walk on the sidewalk, the cars rushing past me and pushing the smell of petrol and other unidentifiable things into my nose.


I only smile as though I know something everyone else doesn’t and pull up the strap of my bag.


Everyone around me says that I am too emotional all the time, that I spend so much time soaking it all in instead of living in the moment. I try to explain to them that living in the moment means savouring every feeling and every experience, but they just roll their eyes and ignore me.


But I don’t care what they think. This pandemic has forced me to think for myself, to finally understand who I really am without anyone to stop me.


I finally reach the gates of the school, and my heart thumps faster.


I haven’t been in this building for almost two years. I still remember every corridor and every room, every shadowed corner and every boy I had kissed standing in them.


Each corridor had a distinct smell, some smelling of tea, some of coffee, some of paper and some of urine.


I remember the worn-out bark of the tree, the peeling paint from the walls, the cracked step on the staircase, the feeling of grass and mud under my feet.


I only fear that all my memories are just blurred dreams, that I was over-exaggerating them to a point where I believed it was true.


People brush past me, bags hanging from their shoulders in a way that clearly reflected their weight. I try and snap out of my nostalgia, and step into the school ground.


Walking to the school building feels straight out of a movie, where everyone else is just doing their own thing and the protagonist is walking and turning in slow motion, a slow track playing in the background.


It is exactly how I remembered.


My knees almost buckle in relief, but I keep walking to my classroom, stopping to only say hello to friends in the hallway. I even manage to awkwardly run into exes.


I enter my classroom, and look around, as though I am a child again on their first day of school. The orange walls and the rickety desks, all of it washes over me pleasantly and leaves me feeling warm inside.


Putting down my bag, I sit down in the seat I have always sat at and wait for my friends to come.


I make conversation with people I rarely talked to before this whole situation while I wobble my leg up and down in anticipation of my friends.


This pandemic has increased the number of lines on my face and the number of scars in my heart.


Maybe I am worried that I will see more of the same in my friends’ faces.


That laughing Diane will have a tinge of sadness in her smile, that practical Eileen will cry into her pillow every night and that protective Naomi will protect herself more.


All of us had endured unimaginable loss as a result of this pandemic.


An ache spreads across my stomach when I think of my aunt. My loud-mouthed best friend who had fallen in and out of love more times than anyone I had ever known, who always had a joke or a kind word ready to tell me, who always had a bucket of chocolate ice cream in her freezer just for me.


Who lay there with white skin as the green line straightened and the beep became louder than the ringing in my ears.


My stream of thoughts is suddenly interrupted by the entrance of my friends, all of them sandwiched around Sylvia in a protective way.


I get up and go over to them.


“What’s the matter?” I ask.


My friends look at me and then look back at Sylvia.


I put a hand on her shoulder and ask again.


She just shakes her head and moves to hug me, her small arms tightly bound around my body. I put my arms around her and rub her on the back, trying to comfort her.


“She lost her mother minutes before the wave hit,” Diane whispers into my ear, and I hold Sylvia tighter, and let her cry, even though we have never talked for more than a few seconds before.


Only a few days ago, an accident had happened in the same facility in Wuhan, releasing something else to the world. It was almost eerily similar to what had started all of this, but in this case, all the COVID cases had vanished around the world, as if by magic.


The virus had been eradicated.


I couldn’t even imagine what it must have been like for this poor thing in my arms right now, to have known that if her mother had held on for a few more minutes, she would have held on forever.


My friends soon join our hug, all of our arms and bodies creating warmth and a haven of comfort for Sylvia, and for ourselves.


As the bell rings, we hesitantly break apart, and sit in our seats, wiping tears that hadn’t been there minutes ago, and wait for the teacher to arrive.


Ms Jaffer enters the class, her eyes bloodshot but her smile trying to hide it.


“It is wonderful to see all of you today, after so long. I know it will be a bit odd and unfamiliar, maybe a bit hard at first, to go on with your lives and forget what we have lost over the past few years, the experiences we never got to have and people we never got to see one last time. But instead, focus on the things this disaster has given us, the things it has taught us and the people with who our relationships are stronger because of it."


We had all lost family and friends, neighbours and strangers, but we hadn’t lost each other.


We were going to keep holding on.

March 08, 2021 03:45

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80 comments

Emma Bates
11:31 Mar 08, 2021

I really don't know why but I feel like crying after reading this. In a good way though! (I am a new fan!) It just hits so close to home and I just really admire all your stories and writing. If I were to describe your writing style, it's dainty, kind of like a gossamer touch, poking and prodding here and there but also so raw at the same time. Thank you for the story, it's beautiful. :)

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Writer Maniac
11:49 Mar 08, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! Thank you for the compliment :) I would love your feedback on 'Not Worth It' and 'Game Over'

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Emma Bates
12:05 Mar 09, 2021

ooh, I will go check them out now! They sound good!!

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Writer Maniac
12:14 Mar 09, 2021

Thank you :)

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Writer Maniac
12:15 Mar 09, 2021

If you could also upvote me, I would appreciate it. Actually, my points were at 4800 but I was downvoted to 0 a few days back, so I'm trying to get my points back to the previous number. So if you could contribute to that, I would really appreciate it.

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Emma Bates
13:05 Mar 09, 2021

Oh, that's terrible, how do you upvote someone again?

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Writer Maniac
14:07 Mar 09, 2021

You press the up arrow next to their comment to give them a point :)

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04:41 Mar 08, 2021

Hope my upvoting helped

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Writer Maniac
05:39 Mar 08, 2021

Yes, it really did, thank you :)

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05:43 Mar 08, 2021

<3

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Holly Fister
14:37 Mar 09, 2021

Can I suggest a different ending line since there could be numerous things you’re holding on to? Perhaps “We would move forward together.” Just a thought!

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Writer Maniac
14:40 Mar 09, 2021

Thank you for reading! I'll definitely consider it :)

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Polly R.
12:38 Mar 09, 2021

i LOVE this. it's so inspiring and cute and sweet and motivating and encouraging. i love the end and the beginning, the beginning made me really happy and the end made me inspired.

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Writer Maniac
12:42 Mar 09, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I would love your feedback on 'Still Have Each Other' and 'Not Worth It' :)

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Polly R.
12:42 Mar 09, 2021

of course! i'll go there now :) also, do you want me to keep calling you writer maniac or is there something else you prefer?

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Writer Maniac
14:04 Mar 09, 2021

People usually call me Mania, so you could call me that :)

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Polly R.
14:20 Mar 09, 2021

okay, thanks mania! :)

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Valerie June
23:34 Mar 08, 2021

You have really outdone yourself in this story. I don’t really know how to explain what I felt, but I definitely felt a mixture of bittersweetness, hope, and fragile (if that makes sense?!) I really have no other words to describe this story except that it drives a strong and truly touching point.

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Writer Maniac
02:34 Mar 09, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I tried my best at imagining what the future would be like, so I'm glad it came through to you :)

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Valerie June
03:20 Mar 09, 2021

I felt like your interpretation of life after the pandemic was pretty realistic. It's always a pleasure to read your stories! :)

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Writer Maniac
04:37 Mar 09, 2021

Thank you so much :)

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Kat Sencen
19:55 Mar 08, 2021

I loved this- it had just the right amount of sadness to mix with confidence and a bunch of other variables. I wouldn't be surprised to see this as a winner!

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Writer Maniac
02:35 Mar 09, 2021

Thank you so much for the compliment, I really appreciate it!

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Izzie Q.
02:26 Mar 09, 2021

Hey!!! Oh. my. gosh! I'm stunned, these past couple stories have been amazing <3 How've you been lately? I'm so sorry about all the down voting, it's been happening to me too :(

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Writer Maniac
02:31 Mar 09, 2021

Hey! Thank you so much, I'm glad you liked them! I've been alright, all this downvoting has brought out the wonderful people of Reedsy :) I'm so sorry you're getting downvoted, let me know if you need me to upvote you

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Izzie Q.
02:33 Mar 09, 2021

Awww no worries! It doesnt bother me too much, i'm just here to meet all these people i can nerd out with! I'll totally do some upvoting for you tonight tho :)

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Writer Maniac
02:37 Mar 09, 2021

Aww that's such a positive mentality, I wish I could be less concerned, but my points went from 4800 to 0 in one day, so it affected me more than it should have

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Izzie Q.
02:40 Mar 09, 2021

omg yeah, thats kinda shocking haha wow

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13:31 Mar 08, 2021

Beautiful. The last line just wrapped it up beautifully, and everything was amazing. I really loved reading this

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Writer Maniac
14:49 Mar 08, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it!

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12:56 Mar 08, 2021

Oh yes, I absolutely needed this right now. I loved the mask part. Every line felt so perfectly crafted, coming from pure emotion. Great story.

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Writer Maniac
14:49 Mar 08, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it!

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12:47 Mar 08, 2021

I felt a lot of emotions in this story. Depression (to be fair, over half of the stories on Reedsy make me depressed), sadness, and hope were the main ones. I really sympathize for Sylvia. Only minutes before "the wave" hit? That's really sad. But the amount of people that comfort her is inspiring. The way you wrote all of the lingering memories of the main character was incredible. You can feel all sorts of emotions in them. I honestly think your strength in writing is writing emotions. The Minor Errors Police didn't have to stop by your ...

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Writer Maniac
14:49 Mar 08, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I really tried my best at imagining how the pandemic would end and its after-effects. I'm really sorry if this depressed you. I always try, even with my stories on difficult topics, to end it on a positive note. I don't know if you've read 'Not Worth It', but in that, I explore a very difficult topic and try to end it in the most positive way possible. If you haven't read it yet, I would love your feedback on it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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15:03 Mar 08, 2021

Yw! :) And I'll try to read and give feedback on 'Not Worth It' today.

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Writer Maniac
15:07 Mar 08, 2021

Thanks :)

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15:36 Mar 08, 2021

Just gave the feedback! :)

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Kat Sencen
17:42 Mar 09, 2021

YAYYY!!! YOU GOT ALL OF YOUR POINTS BACK!!!

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Writer Maniac
02:27 Mar 10, 2021

Yayyy!!!

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15:10 Mar 09, 2021

I'm so sorry that you got downvoted!!! I hope this upvoting will help you get your well-deserved points back. ❤

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Writer Maniac
15:11 Mar 09, 2021

Thank you so much :)

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15:15 Mar 09, 2021

No problem!! I can't believe you got all the way down to zero! I don't understand why people do that. :(((

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Writer Maniac
15:18 Mar 09, 2021

Neither do I, it was really upsetting to see that, but it gave me a ton of new friends :)

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15:40 Mar 09, 2021

Yeah. That's good. :)

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Maya
20:23 Mar 12, 2021

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME A...

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Writer Maniac
02:22 Mar 13, 2021

Thank you!

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Maraika!!! 😎
00:30 Mar 12, 2021

Beautiful story! short and simple, but super powerful. i love it!

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Writer Maniac
02:51 Mar 12, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it!

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Maraika!!! 😎
02:53 Mar 12, 2021

No problem :) i have to read some of your other work when i have the chance. they seem really good

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Writer Maniac
03:26 Mar 12, 2021

Aww thank you! Feel free to ask me for recommendations whenever you feel like reading some of mine :)

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Maraika!!! 😎
04:52 Mar 12, 2021

Ok sounds good <3

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Maraika!!! 😎
00:25 Mar 12, 2021

wow you've written 55 stories since september? Thats amazing!!! Keep up the good work! 😮😍😁

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Writer Maniac
02:51 Mar 12, 2021

Aww thank you so much, I really appreciate it!

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Maraika!!! 😎
02:55 Mar 12, 2021

Oh thank you for following me! that's super nice of you 😊

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Writer Maniac
03:25 Mar 12, 2021

No problem :)

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Eva Bhalla
15:39 Mar 10, 2021

This was emotional-in a way that's a great thing! It takes a lot of practice to do it at your level. This hits the heart though-I moved in the middle of Covid and it was hard, I may not have (luckily) lost any but this still just hit me in that sense. I can't wait to see what you come up with for the next prompt! Also if you have any stories for me to read feel free to tell me! (I upvoted you--who downvotes to that extent?!)

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Writer Maniac
15:55 Mar 10, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I hope you're doing okay, the pandemic has been a tough time for all of us. I would suggest reading 'Paternal Stranger' and 'A Good Day' if you haven't read them yet.

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Writer Maniac
15:56 Mar 10, 2021

Thank you so much for upvoting me as well, it really means a lot :)

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Eva Bhalla
15:56 Mar 10, 2021

I haven't read them but I can't wait to! Oh and no problem!

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12:54 Mar 23, 2021

This is great! I could envision myself in the protagonist's shoes!

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Writer Maniac
14:25 Mar 23, 2021

Thank you so much!

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Naomi Coffman
21:06 Mar 18, 2021

Nice! I would try to add a bit more conflict or tension to the story, but you definitely get the emotion right.

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Writer Maniac
02:36 Mar 19, 2021

Thank you so much, I'll be sure to keep that in mind! I would love your feedback on a story of mine called 'Black and White' :)

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Michelle Lavoie
07:10 Mar 18, 2021

Beautifully descriptive writing. I could personally relate, even as I am just beginning to leave the house after a year of self-imposed quarantine. The toll of the pandemic is evident, and is made even more poignant by the death of Sylvia's mother...just moments before she would have been saved. Love a good twist! All in all, a story of hope after a period of despair. Loved it! And I only wish I knew how to "like" it. I'm a newbie here.

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Writer Maniac
07:19 Mar 18, 2021

Thank you so much, I'm really glad you could relate to it! To like it, you just have to click on the thumbs up button underneath my username at the top of the story, or at the bottom. I would love to hear your thoughts on a story of mine called 'Black and White' :)

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01:50 Mar 18, 2021

This is a really good story! I thought the inclusion of her aunt was unnecessary because she wasn’t described after. Overall, really good! Keep writing! :)

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Writer Maniac
02:33 Mar 18, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I understand your point, however, I felt like the main character needed to have experienced a personal loss in the pandemic, otherwise she wouldn't be able to connect with others on an emotional level. I hope that makes sense. I would love your feedback on a story of mine called 'Not Worth It' :)

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