Behind the Mask
7 P.M. — New York
Updated: Aug 5, 2020
One evening, during quarantine, I decided to take a ride on my bike. I geared up and looked outside to check out the weather. The sky was not what I hoped, for it was quite cloudy and there was no sun out. I put on a helmet, gloves, face mask, and sprinted outside. The streets were deserted which made me wonder when things were going to return back to normal. With that thought, I got on my bike and faced the grueling wind, leaving the stress of online school behind. The wind was whirring against my face and blowing back my hair, as it was refreshing to be outside. My mask tightened up around my face, and I closed my eyes for a fleeting moment to think about what I would be doing if I wasn’t in quarantine right now. I could vividly recall the rattling and shaking of the 3 train while my friends and I were trying to beat those sounds just to get some laughs before heading home. It was a moment that truly made me happy, but it made me miss my old life even more.
Just as I was about to make a turn around the corner, I heard firecrackers and I looked behind me just to see a cloud of smoke with some people gazing above. I hit the brake on my bike as I screeched to a stop. I turned back panting hard wondering what was going on. As soon as I turned around, I saw people coming out of their houses clapping while others were holding signs in their hands. I squinted to make out what the signs had on them, but with all the voluminous smoke in the air, I couldn’t tell. Goosebumps swept over my arm as I stood there wondering how these empty streets had suddenly been filled with people. My ears rang with the cheers of the people leaving their homes, and it was quite a sight to witness.
Suddenly, the car next to me started to beep and my heart stopped as I slowly tiptoed away hoping that I didn’t do anything. In a few seconds, the air was plagued with cars beeping as if the whole world around me had fallen to chaos. I rode home in the midst of loud beeping and clapping hoping to find out what was going on. Then, I pedaled with all my might, and looked around to see the signs that said “Thank You Healthcare Workers.” I came to a slow halt as things started to come together when I remembered hearing about the 7 PM for Healthcare workers initiative on social media. That night, I searched through my pile of “non-essentials” to find my air horn under my bed.
Since then, every day at 6:59, I waited outside with my air horn and my car keys for 7 PM to strike. I would go outside and press the panic button on my keys and press down on the air horn to add to the noise around me. I’m still waiting for the day my air horn runs out of air and I have to resort back to just clapping. I aspire to continue sending the message of hope to my neighbors, friends, and relatives and want to show them that we will get through this together!
— Aryan Ruparel, 16
Brooklyn, New York City