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PANDEMIC DIARIES: Youth

She looked to be about twenty years old, wearing a soft pink oversized hoodie that came down to her mid-thighs, patterned with small white Playboy bunny logos. Her lean, tanned legs were bare except for knee-high, shiny black vinyl boots. The edge of a tattoo peeked out from where the hoodie ended on her upper leg. Her long, dark hair was lined with blonde streaks hanging in stringy bed-hair tangles. She topped off the look with a maroon baseball cap.

I noticed her because she was standing approximately six feet ahead of me in the Whole Foods line-up. She was the only person without a mask or gloves. She was looking down and playing with her recent-issue I-phone, her index finger occasionally swiping lightly on the screen, hips gently swaying to some music coming from her wireless airpod head, an anomaly in a line of still and somber masked grown-ups.

The man six feet in front of her turned around and noticed her. Asked her something. She looked up.

He asked again. “How does it feel to be a young person in this line, seeing all these people in masks?” He may have been implying that she should be wearing one. I couldn’t tell.

“Oh, I’m actually a biology major, so I know a lot about DNA and stuff.,” she said.

They talked together for a bit. I couldn’t pick up all of it, but I heard words like credit card, keys, groceries, phone…no doubt a heady discussion involving DNA and such. The man turned back to his place in line.

The line moved forward and the man went in the store, leaving her first in line. The post next to her had a warning sign that said, “Covid 19 – stay safe” with a list of precautions.

She looked back down at her phone and started swaying again.

© Karen Haddigan

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