Evergreen Magazine

Evergreen Magazine

Evergreen Magazine

A Pandemic to Forget

Mika Baumeister

            The attic floor creaked as I stepped across piles of boxes. The dim bulb that hung from the ceiling did very little to illuminate the room as I tried my best to not trip over years of memories and keepsakes and well, let’s be honest: junk. There were a few interesting boxes like my baby box labeled “Jocelyn: DON’T LOSE” with way too many exclamation points to believe that box has always been kept up with. 

            Nothing else up here was of much value since it was long forgotten by my parents and shoved into the attic for ‘storage.’ But still, my curiosity had gotten the best of me so here I was, digging through old boxes for no particular reason. Well, I had a little bit of a reason.  

            My mom had never been one to share facts or anecdotes about our family. She’d never kept anything from me if I asked but she wasn’t exactly offering old stories out of the blue. I had never known my grandparents either so there wasn’t anyone to ask for old family anecdotes and tales. 

            I’d been up in the attic before, digging through different piles of boxes, looking for mementos and keepsakes, something that showed my family history. I just wanted something that represented a moment I would never know otherwise.  

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            Now, I was elbow deep in a box that turned out to be just bubble wrap. Nothing in it, just layer upon layer of clear plastic bubbles. I sighed and started packing the pieces of bubble wrap I’d already pulled out when something caught my eye: a few pieces of colorful fabric shoved into the corner of the box.  

            I tugged on the fabric to see a handful of…patches? Teeny-tiny hammocks? I couldn’t tell what they were, exactly. Each had an almost rectangle-shaped side that had stitches in the middle that pulled the fabric together, making it curve so it didn’t completely lay flat. There were also two loops attached on either side. Odd shape 

            I think it was some kind of face covering people used to wear a long time ago, but I don’t quite remember why. I quickly packed up the rest of the bubble wrap, haphazardly shoved the boxes back in a semi-order, and then hurried down the attic stairs to find my mom. 

            She was in the kitchen, standing by the island, writing something down.  

            “Hey Mom,” I said, tossing the pieces of fabric on the counter and opening the fridge. “Found those fabric pieces in one of those boxes upstairs, what are they? I feel like I’ve seen you wearing them before in pictures,” I told her, digging around in the freezer now for a snack. “But oh man you wouldn’t believe how many empty boxes I found up there. The ones that were shoved in were full of a bunch of bubble wrap with nothing else! I mean I bet there’s so many-” My mom had cut me off. 

            “Where did you find those?” Mom asked, her voice was tense.  

            “Huh? The old boxes upstairs, I told you, but-” 

            “You shouldn’t be digging around up there. You shouldn’t even be up there at all; I mean how many times have I told you to stop making messes and it’s ridiculous that you keep ignoring me!”  

            “You never said-” 

            “That’s enough, Jocelyn Harrison. Go to your room.”  

            Her voice was stone cold, but as I left, I noticed she never made eye contact with me. She was just staring at the fabrics on the counter.  


            “-and then she just freaked out,” I said into the phone.  

            My Dad sighed on the other end of the line. 

            “I’m not sure why she reacted the way she did, but those things remind us of all of a tough time in our lives that you weren’t there for,” he explained.  

            “What things? And what could have possibly happened that made her act that way?” I asked.  

            “Yeah, listen Jocelyn I’ve got to go but I’ll be home soon, I love you,” he said before hanging up without so much as a goodbye. 


            I stood in a long hallway, light with ugly fluorescent lightbulbs and the stench of a hospital filled my nose. A young woman stood alone, crying. She wrapped her arms around herself like she was trying to bring herself comfort. Behind her was a glass window where I could see a woman, older than the woman sobbing in the hall with me, laying in a hospital bed. Her eyes were closed, and she was perfectly still. I couldn’t tell if she was alive or dead.  

            No one around seemed aware of my presence. Could they see me? 

            “Ms. Harrison,” Someone called. Both me and the crying woman turned.  

            “I’m going to have to ask you to put your mask back on. You can only stay for three more minutes. Pandemic hospital policy.” 

            The woman, Ms. Harrison, which is odd because that’s my last name, just turned away, hugging herself tighter. “Please, sir, just let me say goodbye to my mother.”  

            The man seemed conflicted, but he said nothing else and turned to walk down the hall. As he left, I noticed he wore a similar, but different material thing on his face. A mask, I think? That’s what he seemed to be telling Ms. Harrison to put back on because now a dark blue fabric covered her nose and mouth, soaking up the tears that ran down her face.  

            She turned back to the window and whispered, “Oh Mom.”  

            My heart ached for her.  


            The sun shined brightly on my face. A blurry figure stood in my doorway.  


            “Afternoon kiddo. You’ve been asleep for quite a while,” He chuckled. 

            I rubbed my eyes, trying to get my bearings.  

            “There’s some leftover breakfast in the fridge for you if you’re hungry and I’ll be downstairs if you need me,” he told me before disappearing down the hall. 

            My room was warm and comforting, but I still felt like I was in that cold, sterile hospital watching a daughter grieve her dying mother from afar. The daughter… 

            I ripped my comforter off and hurried out of my room, looking for my mom. I went room to room, peeking in until I found her in her office. She sat behind her desk with her hair swept into a neat bun, wearing a green blouse and her mask nowhere to be seen. Her face was void of emotion as she worked, the tears that once stained her face had been wiped away many years ago. I’m not sure how I knew the woman in my dream was the same person in front of me. I wasn’t even totally sure if the dream was real or a figment of my imagination.  

            The longer I stood there, the more my doubt grew, and I was almost ready to leave and dismiss the dream until- 


            Too late.  

            “Yeah?” I asked, worried she’d lash out again.  

            “Do you need something?” She eyed me.  

            “No. Well, I… I had something to ask you. No. I have something to tell you. The reason you lashed out at me yesterday when I brought those masks down was because they reminded you of your mom. My grandmother.” 

            “What do you mean? How do you know that?” She asked.  

            Tears were already filling her eyes and I realized just how sore this subject was.  

            “I just…wasn’t it?” 

            She took a breath and glanced up at the ceiling for a moment. “Yes. It was a very sharp reminder about my mother’s death. I miss her a lot,” she said. 

            “What exactly happened?”  

            “Well, she died in the hospital. Alone. It was a long time ago in 2020 before you were born. She caught the Covid-19 virus and was hospitalized due to her poor health. But because of the hospital’s pandemic restrictions, I couldn’t be with her to say goodbye. Masks were mandated during the pandemic so seeing it again… it caught me off guard. I know you don’t know a lot about the pandemic or your grandmother so shouting at you like that was extremely unfair. I’m so sorry.” 

            My mom held her arms out to me and wrapped me in a hug. She held me so tight, it almost felt like she was trying to make up for the last hug she never got to share with her own mother.  

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About the Contributor
Kimberly Strickland
Kimberly Strickland is a sophomore and this is her first year on the Evergreen Magazine staff. She joined because of her interest in writing and journalism as well as a passion to try new things. Outside of writing, she plays flute and piccolo and is also involved in the winter guard program. 

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