While we adults struggle with life in a pandemic, you might ask yourself, how are the kids doing? Molly Hill can tell you.
The Minnetonka writer is founder of Blue Marble Review, a five-year-old online journal that publishes the work of writers ages 13 to 22.
Recently, she opened up submissions to ask young writers about their experiences and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they answered eloquently, thoughtfully, sometimes heartbreakingly. They also wrote with hope.
Malena Garcia wrote about celebrating her 17th birthday under quarantine in Spain.
The streamers and presents on the table “are almost enough to make the stifling air stop suffocating my lungs. Almost. … I wish we lived in a house with a garden instead of a tiny apartment. Or, that I could at least go out, and run. In France, people are allowed to go out for a run, but not in Spain.”
Sixteen-year-old Eunice Kim wrote from Seoul, South Korea, about missing physical contact.
“Since we are in the business of rationing touch, I hold your hands in blueshift dreams every night. … I learn that when one sense is lacking, we find ways to compensate with stranger and smaller intimacies.”
Mick Perryman, 14, of Moscow, Idaho, went to the now-closed high school where his dad is the principal and hauled home a 5-foot-tall carved wooden bear, the school mascot, which he put on the family’s front porch to amuse passers-by.
With schools closed, young children are going on “bear walks” in the neighborhood, looking for stuffed bears that people put in their windows.
“I like the bears in the window,” Mick wrote. “It’s like the videos you see of people singing with each other from their balconies in Italy. People supporting each other. People acknowledging that this is hard and new for everybody else.
“Maybe if we keep being decent to each other, if we keep the awareness that we all matter, maybe we might come out of this better. Maybe this pandemic will bring us together.”
Eden Prairie resident Priscilla Trinh, 19, wonders if the pandemic presents an opportunity to remake the world in a more ecologically friendly way.
“The circumstances do allow for some reflection on what society can look like and how it can function in radically different ways,” she wrote.
“These are the times to imagine a future with less pollution in the sky, widespread government aid, un-institutionalized education models, and more.”
But 15-year-old Selah Joy of Hawaii has more immediate concerns. “Both of my parents are out of a job, and the reality of a lack of income … is a frightening thing,” she writes.
“No income means that in order to compensate, we will have to dip into the savings that have been scraped painstakingly together over the years. … It means that my uncomfortable is a little closer to the surface now, thinking about it.
“We will be fine; that is what I tell myself.” But doubt, she says, “catches at the back of my mind, and lingers.”
Blue Marble Review is accepting submissions of students’ COVID-19 stories through May 15. Students will be paid $40 if the journal publishes their work.
Send essays of between 100 and 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The journal can be viewed online at bluemarblereview.com. They are on twitter at @bluemarbleREV and Instagram at bluemarblereview.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Facebook: www.facebook.com/startribunebooks