For me, life was perfect. I had great friends, a good education, and a nice life, working in the bakery my mom and dad owned. I was too naive to wish that everything had stayed that way, and my biggest problems were what to wear to school and how to solve my algebra homework. Then the virus hit. The next few weeks were a blur of confusion, sadness, and hope. Yet the hope was quickly crushed. “See you in two weeks!” turned into “Wow, it's been longer than we expected.” which turned into “I can't believe it's been a whole year.” I was crushed. Not only was I confined to our suddenly very small apartment, the bakery was suffering, which meant we were skimming. Mom and Dad didn't like me hearing about that, but because of our paper thin walls, not even their whispering could conceal the truth. Don't even get me started on online school. Even if my internet was working, it was still a gamble that the teacher might not realize that their mic is off for the whole class, despite many students warning them in the chat. (Ahem, Mrs. O'Henry.) Plus, it was obviously hard to be with my parents every hour of every day. My only escape was putting on headphones and dancing around my room, but then mom would come in and yell at me for “being too loud.” I think she was just looking for someone to yell at. Dad says she was just stressed. Even so, I still didn't say a word to her at dinner. One day, a cat showed up on my fire escape. I snuck some chicken in to feed her. I know we were going through some rough times financially, but she was just so skinny. Everyday, she started coming back just after dinner time, and I would always try to sneak something into my pocket for her. I invited her in when she ate, and sometimes she would let me pet her. At one point she even laid on my bed. Most times after that, when I would open the window, she would run onto the bed. One day, when she was on it, dad called me to show me a video he thought was funny. ”Stay there, Kitty.” I said, as I shut the door. Midway through the video, I heard Mom gasp, then run out into the living room. Uh oh. “Sabrina Ivy Jones, do you want to explain yourself?” “What… do you mean?” I asked, trying to play dumb. “Why, in the world, is there a cat in this house?!” I told her the truth. I was sent to bed without dinner, and she actually put a lock on my window. A lock! Like she thinks I'm going to sneak out in the middle of the pandemic! “Don't you think you're being a little harsh?” Dad asked her. “I mean, that cat is one of her only sources of entertainment.” “Are you telling me I'm wrong? She openly deceived us! We're running out of food and she's giving it to some cat?” “But if she hadn't, that cat might've starved. She's it's only family.” “There are other families.” My mom said, her voice burning. “This is New York! There are SO many other places.” Thus the fighting began. Day and night, they fought and fought and fought. I feel guilty, knowing I started it all. Mom walked in on me crying one day. “Why didn't you knock?” “I'm your mother and I will go in whichever room in my apartment that I would like to at any given time. You don't pay for this place.” “Fine.” I say. “What's wrong?” She asked. I see my father lingering at the door. “Everything! We can't go outside and I can't see my friends and the stupid internet is always down and you and Dad are always fighting and you're probably going to get a divorce and it's all my fault!” I yelled, tears streaming down my cheeks. Dad walks in and they both give me a hug. Mom wipes the tears off my cheeks. “I've been way too hard on you. I'm sorry. I want you to remember that your father and I love each other very much. None of our fighting is your fault. Things are hard with being so close all the time and… well, money.” Mom said. “I know.” I said, curtly. “I'm sorry about the cat.” She continues. “It's too late. She's gone, anyway.” I retorted. “Why don't we just unlock this for now?” Dad says. “Incase she comes back.” Mom hands him the keys. “Brina, we're sorry you heard us fighting. We're gonna try to stop.” “Okay.” Several months go by. Things are better now. We can go outside, run the bakery again, and I can see my friends, even though I have to wear a mask that makes it hard to breathe. Mom still yells at me, but she stops herself more now. She's trying. Which is much more than I expected. As for the cat, she came back, and we adopted her. She can now be found lying around the bakery, and the fuzzy rugs or on the counters, (although dad shoos her off of them when he catches her.) We named her Tony, and after a few months and a lot of love, (and food), her ribs aren't showing anymore. Slowly, life starts to return to normal. A news report says we can go outside without masks, and I finally feel it, for the first time since the pandemic started. Hope.

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Angell Kim

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