The following is an excerpt from “The Story of Stella: A Memoir,” by Stella Ciarlantini.
Life proceeded, but differently. We were supposed to practice “social distancing,” which meant avoiding large gatherings, wearing masks when you’re in a small space, and so on. Mrs. Whaley didn’t talk about it, but she got mad at the kids that did.
“On the news, it said that the Coronavirus-” one boy started when we were sitting on the rug one morning. Mrs. Whaley cut him off.
“So, today, we’re going to…”
At first she sent the message of not talking about it gently. She just interrupted by changing the subject. But as things seemed to get worse, she got snappier.
“The news said that the Coronavirus-”
“We have nothing to worry about,” she addressed the class.
“Well, on the news, the reporter said that-” my classmate continued.
“Stop. Just stop it. Stop.”
None of us had ever heard Mrs. Whaley use that tone before.
When giving us directions, they were always soft and kind. My class was surprised, but I think we all understood. She didn’t want us to get scared.
That evening, Mrs. Whaley sent out a message to all the parents. It said to tell their kids to not talk about the Coronavirus, because she didn’t want us to mix up our facts and scare other kids. But the next day at school, everyone kept talking about it, including me.
“Did you know that they found a case of Coronavirus in Walnut Creek?” Karla informed us.
Walnut Creek was the neighboring city, that was quite a bit bigger than our small town.
“Really?” Jacob asked. Oh, wow, I couldn’t help myself from thinking, if he uses that voice again, I don’t know what I’ll do. “I’m glad I don’t live in Walnut Creek anymore.”
Jacob’s dad had just moved to our town, so now both of his parents lived near the school.
“Wow,” I answered. “Pretty soon, there will be a case in Lafayette.”
For more, download The Story of Stella: A Memoir.
Submitted by Stella Ciarlantini, Contra Costa County – Lafayette.