Ten Steps

This whole thing feels like the plot of a post-apocalyptic YA novel.


Crucial shelves at Target, Dave’s, CVS–all empty. There’s nothing left but the plasticky little price tags. As per usual, we have too much of what we don’t need. 

I would say the streets are empty, too, except they’re not. There are too many bodies there. 

Sometimes we go for walks, my younger siblings and I. Our neighborhood is suffocating under all the people, just like I am. 

We wave to them as we go by. We hold our breath as we pass, but make sure they can’t tell. We shout conversations with the distance of our driveways in between. 

Or maybe that’s just me. I don’t know. But all of the hand sanitizer and facemasks are gone, so I’m improvising. 

I don’t want to die.

My best friend lives in Florida: She spends the afternoons in her pool. 

I see photos of public places packed with bodies and think, ​this is the part where we all fall down. 

I do a lot of Netflix bingeing. I’ve learned which friends I miss, and which I don’t. I make sure that the extroverts in my life aren’t dying from all of this isolation. 

Me, I’ve been preparing for this day my whole life. 

I’ll sit outside when I used to sit inside. That’s a change, I guess. I’ll bring out the laptop with the Star Wars sticker on it and curl up on our deck and watch my cursor stall as the sun sinks behind the trees, later than it used to. 

Sometimes I think, ​I should write a story about this. M​aybe in the future, but not too far in that direction. 2025, or something. It’d be set in an underground compound, where the survivors of COVID-19 are fighting to survive. 

Sometimes I think that’s where we’re headed anyway.

Sometimes I think about how ridiculous this all is. Not the pandemic; the fact that it’s taken a global crisis for us to appreciate grocery store employees. Waiters, waitresses. The arts. Teachers. Truck drivers. The underpaid people that society needs most. 

My siblings.
I do a lot of deep thinking, really. That’s the biggest change.

When there’s nowhere to go but ten steps down the street or ten steps up your own staircase, there’s a lot of room for the thoughts in your head. 


Annabel Rarick is a student at Quest Montessori in Narragansett, Rhode Island. She is a 2020 Write Rhode Island winner.

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