a short story about the day the virus recedes and we can see each other again

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The Day We Took Our Masks Off

a short story about the day the virus recedes and we can see each other again

The day we took our masks off wasn't a day, exactly. The plague receded slowly, like a winter that had held on too long, sputtering false springs and flash snows until one day we looked out the window and saw the sun shining again.

We each resurfaced in our own time, some so starved for contact they were out as soon as the medical cordons came down. Others waited to check the math of the economists ushering us back to work. A few held on for weeks, like shelter animals wary of the cage's open door.

Whenever it happened, there was a moment we all shared: when the mask dropped and we saw our smiles naked again, hardened by time and stress but still gleaming like a vein of precious ore that only forms under pressure.

There was still work to do, yes. There were dead to mourn, sick to tend to, and losses too raw to speak of. But for a moment, we felt the weight of our long isolation melting away like snow in sunlight. We thought back to ourselves at the beginning of this calamity, before we lost count of the anxious nights and lonely days. And we whispered into reality what we had been too afraid to say back then.

That all winters end. All masks come off. And we will see each other again before too long.


Short story written by Peter Chiykowski

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Story prompt taken from a photo by Steve Halama

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