by Fanta Ballo, age 19

They asked me, “How does it feel to know that I am living in a moment of history?”

And to be honest, at first, it didn’t really occur to me

That a decade from now, my experience will be a DBQ question on the Global Regents

And they’ll have to write an essay about what they read

And luckily I can keep my pen to myself ’cause I already seen it

And some days I go to sleep, wake up, and feel like I’m dreaming

I’ve become numb to pandemics, wars, and disasters happening abroad

I took my life for granted

Forgot how much of a privilege it was to live in America

To wake up every day and have an outside to go to

The privilege of breathing in air fresh enough to keep you alive

Parks became the staple for adolescents in the community to play

And no one ever questioned the park ’cause it was always there

School was always there

Food was always there

We almost always had it good in comparison

Now that I think about it, it’s really embarrassing

We were safe in this bubble

But today, we’re not

Today we realize that we are no better than any other country

We are no better than any other citizen

The virus is coming for the rich and the poor

For the hospitals and grocery stores

And years from now

Children will read about this moment and wonder what it was like for us

For the people who lived through a widespread pandemic

The pandemic that made the city that never sleeps, Sleep

How the things we took for granted suddenly became a necessity.

Ain’t it funny how we were told that we rely way too much on technology

Now technology has become the only thing we can rely on

Having to code-switch between our friends and our professors

We slide from Zoom to Zoom like a python

Hearts shattered for millions of seniors who will not get to commence

Not get to walk down that aisle and get the honorary paper that will let them know their years meant something

Them late nights in the library meant something

Them student loans meant something

’Cause in all of this we’ve seemed to have forgot something that I am hoping is written in them history books

Before anything else we are human

And as scary as this virus is, it knows what it’s doing

Reminding us that on the inside we are all the same

We all deserve this thing called life and if we take it for granted

It can be stripped away any second

’Cause life works in circles

I guess that’s the roundabout way of saying one day we will all be gone

Some of us fortunate enough to be more than just a statistic in a history book

The most famous of us will have a street or school named in our honor

But the most important won’t be the ones who made billions and prospered

It will be the ones who lived every day with love

It will be the ones who lend the helping hand to those who needed it the most

It will be the heroes that didn’t wear capes

It will be the ones who went the extra step to save humanity

It will be the ones that were asked, “How does it feel to know that you are living in a moment of history?”

And they will answer, “Didn’t really think about it.”

“Untitled” was published in The 826NYC Review №11. Help support the unique voices of our young authors by sharing their stories and making a donation! To receive notices about opportunities for your child, sign up for our youth writing opportunities newsletter.

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