Thalia Levee sat in a crimson armchair looking down at her round-faced grandchildren. She pressed her lips together, considering the request that had just left her grandson’s mouth.
“Please Grandmother!” The small boy begged from his spot on the hardwood floor. Thalia sighed. “Just one last story. Then we will go to bed, I promise!” The boy exclaimed. His younger sister nodded eagerly from beside him.
“Fine. One last story. That’s it.” Thalia gave in. She knew in the shining eyes of her grandchildren she was just an old woman, a grumpy one at that. But when Thalia looked at herself in the mirror she didn’t see an eighty-six-year-old staring back at her. No, when Thalia caught sight of her reflection she saw an eleven-year-old gazing back at her. Every time she saw a picture of her past self Thalia’s heart fluttered because despite her physical appearance she would always be that eleven-year-old deep down.
Thalia’s attention flitted back to her grandchildren who beamed up at her in anticipation.
“So, where does the story take place, grandmother? Neverland? Oz?” Thalia’s granddaughter asked excitedly. But the old woman just shook her head.
“No dear, this story takes place in New York in the year 2020.” Thalia began. “As you probably already know, a pandemic raged throughout the world in 2020. And I have already shared with you how my elementary school got shut down and virtual learning began. But throughout all this, I was struggling on my own. No, struggling is a nice way of putting it. I was wallowing in despair. I don’t know why even to this day, I guess it’s because I was lonely or maybe just bored. But for some reason being stuck in my apartment made me rethink everything about my life.” Thalia recalled.
Her grandchildren’s eyes filled with concern. “Now, don’t think nothing good came from this!” She exclaimed.
“What good?” Her grandson asked after a moment of silence.
Thalia thought for a moment. “I learned how to tell the truth from lies. I learned to stand up for myself. But the most beneficial thing I learned is that some things are out of my control. I may still be a raging perfectionist, but now I at least cut myself a little slack.” Thalia exclaimed pushing a strand of gray hair out of her face.
“How did you learn that?” Thalia’s granddaughter asked, her tone lighthearted as always. Thalia smiled down at the small girl.
“The hard way,” Thalia said simply, letting her grandchildren think over the words. It was true, 2020 was the type of year where things got much worse before they got much better. Thalia glanced at the clock rimmed with gold that sat on the far wall, it was already past eleven pm.
“Tell us more Grandmother!” Thalia’s granddaughter asked, frantically pulling her grandmother’s attention away from the time. A smart move.
“I’ll tell you more in the morning-” But even before the old grandmother could finish her sentence her grandchildren were fast asleep. A grin spread across her face as she too closed her eyes. The same stormy blue eyes that had witnessed the unexpected twists and turns of the disaster-filled year of 2020.
[Editor: Thalia Levee is one of ten finalists in Youngzine's Writing contest, the results of which were announced in June 2021]