|Photo Credit: MorgueFile.com|
Flash Fiction Friday
MasksBy PR Henriksen
"Hey Aunt Jill, why don't I get to wear a mask like them?" Patrick said as a loud 9-year old would, while pointing to three people in masks across the office. A whole family sat alone, to the side, of a nearly "at capacity" clinic.
We'd waited patiently for more than an hour. I tried not to breath in too deep. I didn't want to catch anything and my nephew wasn't sick either. Patrick was just a superhero-playing boy, with a goose egg the size of jawbreaker on his head.
"The sign at the desk says if you've come in from a foreign country or have a cough, please grab a mask."
He started to cough. I snorted. Everybody within earshot looked at us in accusation. Couldn't they tell a fake cough when they heard one? Sheeze, this Ebola thing was making people a bit nuts. I didn't stare at them when they coughed or goo oozed from their kids’ noses and they wiped it all over.
"Well, I guess you'd better go get one from the desk." I smiled at him and he smiled back. "Just remember Aunt Jill's rule #1."
"No baby head-diving, or no choking?"
"How'd you get the bump?"
After about ten minutes with the mask on, he wanted it off, and then it became a protective arm band. More dirty looks. I pulled a water bottle and a pack of cheese crackers from my computer bag. He took them and then he stopped.
"Do you have any more?"
"Why? Do you think they're going to keep us here past dinner?"
He looked over to the family with the masks. There was a girl that looked about his age, along with a mom, dad, and a small baby.
"No, but the mask is really hot. I thought she might be thirsty too."
I pulled out my other bottle of water and pack of crackers. "Ask her mom if it's ok first."
"Ok!" And he bounded across the office as only a happy, energetic kid can do.
I saw people look at him like he was crazy. Then they looked at me like I was a bad mother. Whatever.
The girl's mom gave the ok and Patrick proceeded to offer her the snacks. She took them, but looked a bit unsure as she touched her mask. Patrick seemed to get it and put his back on. He sneaked a cracker into his mask from the bottom. The little girl relaxed and followed his lead. He did the same thing with the water and she followed again. As soon as the snacks were gone, the family got called up to the desk. The little girl gave Patrick a quick hug, and followed her mom.
Patrick came back over and sat by me, mask still on, face bright red.
"Thanks for calling me today."
"You're not mad?"
"Are you still going to tell mom?"
"Yep!" His eyes shot down to his toes. I leaned over and whispered in his ear. "She won't be mad either." He looked back up at me and I smiled. Superheroes really do wear masks. Who knew?