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Maya Ruben, 10 (Washington DC)

Zooming In

Maya Ruben, 10

“Knowing how to care is the first step, but actively going out of your way to do something nice is what really matters,” Ms. Sandra said in a welcoming voice. I found it funny how she thought no one noticed the filter she had on that made her lips red. Whenever she moved her mouth, the lipstick struggled to follow. She looked like a beginner ventriloquist trying to make minimal mouth movements.

I was lying in bed with my pajamas on and my camera off. I split my screen in half with Zoom on one half and YouTube on the other. It turns out it is very entertaining to watch cats being scared of cucumbers. I finished up the first two classes, neither of which I listened to or cared about. I walked downstairs and saw my mom and dad talking. When I came, they stopped and looked over at me.

“Hey, how’s school going?” asked Dad.

“Same old, same old,” I said sarcastically.

“So, Dad and I were talking about all of us going to the art museum together, when school is over for today,” said Mom.

I was surprised by how she had said that so quickly and simply, like she was taking a single sip of a smoothie. It’s not that I didn’t like the idea, it was just weird to do so suddenly, after all this time in distance learning. But I was ready for it.

When we got to the museum, I noticed that it was very small. Good. I don't like big places. We secured our masks and walked inside. I was caught off guard by a beautiful piece of art on the wall. It was a lime-green circle with no significance whatsoever. But I was still captivated. The silence of this art was different from the silence of distance learning. I suddenly pulled my gaze away from the painting and realized my parents weren't there.

“Mom?” I asked. No reply. “Mom!” I raised my voice. Still no reply.

I sat on an unwelcoming chair, looking back up at the picture, embracing the feeling of being alone. I felt meaningless in the wide universe. But I knew Mom and Dad couldn't have gone far in this tiny, uncrowded place. I sighed and was about to stand up to go look for them, but first I felt the need to stay and collect my thoughts.

Just for a moment, I was alone with the world.

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