Behind the Mask
Sirens in the Park — New York
Updated: Aug 5, 2020
We had been walking in the park for at least twenty minutes now, my mom and I. It was
a beautiful afternoon: the sky was clear and the breeze was pleasant. Twenty minutes earlier, two people desperate for fresh air took one look outside, yelled at the others for not coming, and left to enjoy the fresh air and solitude. Today, my mom was taking me on her personal route that she had developed through her walks during quarantine. We walked on an isolated path covered with pollen and dead leaves, sheltered from the sun by the trees, in quiet conversation about my mom’s childhood trips to the forest with her dad — interrupted by the occasional police siren.
Anyway, back to how they would ride into the forest, hide their bikes, and pick wild mushrooms and berries. As we rejoined the main path, others started to come back into view; couples walking with their hands intertwined, masks on and jackets off, families having picnics on the Great Meadow, and of course, young men playing soccer (no silly virus will ever stop them). It was like the progression of life slowly coming back to normal, going from the chilly, isolated path to the crowded, sun-baked meadow. We walked past a bustling playground, and onto another solitary path, over a dry riverbank, following the river until we reached an amazing spot in the park we had never seen before. It was a small oval-shaped clearing, surrounded by trees, with two entrances (one from either side) and benches along its circumference. In the center was a small oval pool made with stone; it was drained, like the riverbank, and through the middle were the remains of an enormous fallen tree. Ironically, the tree had flowers and undergrowth growing from its trunk, which was now propped up over the ground by the branches, horizontal. Two couples sat on the sides of the clearing, basking in the sun and enjoying the afternoon. As we walked through the clearing, we paused our conversation, listening to the sounds of the park — a calming medley of couples laughing, wind blowing through the grass, and birds chirping. And of course, the occasional police siren (this is Brooklyn, what did you expect?).
— Lucas Jones, 16
Brooklyn, New York