The First Day of School

A girl stands behind a set of lockers.
The blur of emotions students feel on their first day of school in the midst of a pandemic.

I am pushed up against the locker, my body folding in on itself, defenseless in the wave of teenagers all moving forward. The crowd is merciless; there is no room nor time to stop for a second. Around me, I see the shared look of exhaustion written across their eyes, dark circles running down their faces, and long hair falling in their faces from a year of skipped haircuts. I can't see their mouths, but I can hear their voices. They voice complaints and pleas for a way out of the hallway we are trapped in.

We come from all different walks of life but we all move forward in the hallway with one destination in our mind: class. It is August 4th, 2021 8:16 am-our first day of school-and the pandemic has affected all of our lives. For more than a year we were trapped at home, awaiting the day we could finally step foot back into the classroom for some semblance of normalcy. But as I move with the crowd I can't help but wonder how long normalcy is meant to last. Yes, we are masked, but we are by no means socially distanced from one another (a task that is impossible given the size of our building). I search for the faces of absent classmates hoping they are gone for vacation and not tied up to a ventilator. The virus has become politicized in my country; I am witnessing the collateral damage they are willing to pay to prove a point.

It is the first day of school across the state, but for how many kids will it be their last?