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Young Writers Society


E - Everyone

Positive.

by SofieR


It was six-thirty AM, and I was getting a front-row seat to the sunrise from the parking lot of County Urgent Care. It was the only clinic in town offering same-day-result testing and it didn't even open until eight AM. Yet, already there was a line wrapped around the building, clear out to the sidewalk. You would have thought it was 1998 and this clinic was selling tickets to an N'Sync concert or something. Unfortunately, it wasn't the nineties. This was the 2020's. Boy bands were out and viral illnesses were very much in.

As we got in line, we were each given a little red slip of paper with a number on it. I was number fifty-eight. These nurses had to swab fifty-seven noses before I could go home and get back to my Doctor Who marathon, the way a sunday was intended to be spent, thank you very much.

“Name?” A clipboard-brandishing nurse came up and asked me.

“Allison Harding.”

“Age?”

“Twenty-three.”

“Reason for getting tested today?”

“My job requires weekly testing.”

“Any symptoms?”

“Nope.”

Apparently, my good word alone wasn’t enough because before I knew it she was sweeping my fringe out of the way and holding a beeping thermometer to my forehead. It chimed with the results, which she checked with an approving nod before scribbling onto the clipboard.

“Just hang tight, we’ll be with you shortly,” she said before walking away.

I smiled politely, having done this enough times to know "shortly" meant anything but. I let out a heavy sigh, put in my bluetooth earpods and started the playlist I put together the night before in preparation for braving this line. As I tapped my heel to the beat of How's it Going to be by Third Eye Blind, I watched a mom and her little son a couple spaces ahead of me in line, still in their pajamas and slippers. As they stood in line, the mom fishednher her phone out of her purse. The two of them tucked their masks under their chins before grinning big toothy grins into the camera for a selfie.

The sight sort of stopped me in my tracks. When I thought about what on earth you would even caption a photo like that, I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing out loud.

Found out the kiddo got #covidexposed at school. Getting tested to do our part and #flattenthecurve. Also, we live with grandma who's a diabetic antivaxxer, so #prayersup for a negative result 😬.

God help us all. The whole world is on fire, and what do people do? They take selfies in front of the flames. A robotic voice cut through the music.

Battery low. Please recharge headphones.

"Dammit," I cursed under my breath. I knew I had forgotten something. I had forgotten to charge my stupid ear pods.

Insufficient battery. Powering down.

"Dammit," I cursed again, taking the pods out of my ears.

I felt a soft tap on my shoulder and I spun around. A guy about my age, sporting a wrinkled up white t-shirt and some impressive blonde bed head, took a pod out of his own ear and handed it to me. As I stood there, sort of confused, he pointed to the offering with his chin as if to say; "Go on, take it". Cautiously, I reached for the gift and put it in my ear. I watched as he scrolled through his phone, looking for a song to play. He settled on one and stuck his phone in his back pocket. The track started playing and my mouth practically fell agape behind my mask. The unmistakable first chords of How's it Going to Be played into my left ear.

I was just about to exclaim how I had just been listening to this, certain that I had just found my musical soul mate. Then, just as I begin to believe the rom-com moment I had been waiting for my entire life had finally arrived - a nurse wearing bright blue scrubs walked out of the clinic and addressed the line.

"Guys, we apologize, but we've got a higher demand for rapid testing today than usual. If you have an odd number, please head across the parking lot to Trinity Hospital- they’ll complete your test over there.”

I pulled out the little red piece of paper with the number 58 on it. I turned and looked at my mystery guy. He’s holding 59.

We look at each other for a long second. I pulled the earpod out and handed it back.

“Thanks anyway,” I said.

He took it back, thought for a second, then he took the other pod out of his ear and handed them both to me.

“Keep ‘em,” he said. Before I could protest, he was heading across the parking lot to the hospital.

I wish I could say that some dark cloud of anxiety hung over me as I waited in line to get tested, but the sad truth is that these tests were becoming all too routine to carry any real weight anymore. Here I was, standing in line to get tested for a potentially deadly disease, and I wasn't even fazed. I just stood there, twirling the headphones around with my fingers and wondering if the clinic could give me mystery guy's contact info without violating HIPPA. And it hit me right there that when our great-great-great-grandkids learn about all of this in school, what will really get them isn't the tragedy and loss, although don't get me wrong, the loss has really been something. What's really going to get them is how we as a human race collectively decided to go on with our lives as if the loss wasn't happening. Most of the time, I couldn't decide whether to be in awe of us all, or horrified at us.

                                                                              ...

They called number 58 and I got my brain probed by a cotton swab for the millionth time. They shooed me away to an outdoor waiting room - the "possible walking biohazard area" is how I had begun to think of it. Fifteen minutes later, a nurse came out and announced the good news.

“You’re negative.”

So I got up, slung my purse over my shoulder and headed out to my Jeep. I was humming that Third Eye Blind song when I saw him; sitting in the driver's seat of a parked Volkswagen across a parking lot. My mystery guy.

I grabbed the headphones out of my pocket and started walking over, but he shook his head frantically, signaling for me to stay back and mouthing a word that took me several seconds to register.

Positive

It felt like a punch in the stomach. I stood frozen in the middle of the parking lot- not allowed to come any closer but not quite wanting to get into my jeep and drive away. I got out the red piece of paper from my pocket and a pen from my backpack. On the back I scribbled down my phone number and underneath, a sentence in rushed cursive.

In case you ever want your headphones back.

- Allison

I left the note on the hood of his car and walked away. It wasn’t the rom-com moment I had always dreamt of, but this twisted sci-fi movie we were all living in would have to do for now. 


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Tue Apr 12, 2022 11:21 am
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fantasies says...



i liked this! it added a sweet touch to the fact that we all are dealing with this…you know, virus. i actually ship the two characters. 😭 so cuteeeeeeeeee…
but uh yeah good job! i found a few grammar mistakes but all i suggest is finding those and editing them.




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Wed Mar 30, 2022 3:01 am
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ForeverYoung299 wrote a review...



Hey! Forever here with a review!!

This was a very cute story. I really liked how you found hope amidst hopelessness in the covid situation. I found the emotions it managed to evoke quite interesting. Anwyay, into the review now.

Talking about the characters, the main character was a bit humorous and the humour made me smile. Like the high level of sarcasm they had when they were observing the people in the line and how it proved funny even to themselves was quite good. It teases how people in difficult times are being careless about themselves and their surroundings. That selfie taking was hilarious. The dialogues too showed a lot of his character. I really loved how you managed to portray a solid character in such a short story.

Jumping into the person who provided the MC with the earpods, the person appears to be quite a kind person. I still wonder about how the person got to know that Allison was listening to the song but I do have to say that it was a magical moment(at least to me it seemed so). Maybe the person saw their phone or something. after all, the person was standing/sitting just after Allison, so it's not really improbable.

I liked the bit of hopelessness the story presented to us. I don't know if it was meant to be like that but yes, when the person found out that he was positive. It hit me hard- the shaking of his head. How hopeless he was! It was really a pity. I actually had a burst of emotion there without any definite reason. I also liked how Allison didn't fear of getting covid. like if we see, they talked with a person who was covid positive just a few minutes ago. So, they have a high risk of getting exposed to the infection and they don't even know if they indeed got the virus. As it seems to me, Allison didn't even think of that. Great.

Now to some small critiques.

Found out the kiddo got #covidexposed at school. Getting tested to do our part and #flattenthecurve . Also, we live with grandma who's a diabetic antivaxxer, so #prayersup for a negative result 😬.

This line... I didn't understand it when I read it initially. Maybe you could put it in italics to indicate that the person was thinking. The line following this can also be put in italics. Otherwise, there will a tense shifting problem. Also, the names of songs can too be italicised. If you don't want to italicize them, put them inside single quotes. That was all.

Keep Writing!!

~Forever




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Tue Mar 29, 2022 1:48 am
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PoetryMisfit wrote a review...



Hi , thought I'd leave a quick review.

I really enjoyed this piece. It was snarky and comical in all the right ways. Some lines I particularly snorted at were:
"Boy bands were out and viral illnesses were very much in."
"These nurses had to swab fifty-seven noses before I could go home and get back to my Doctor Who marathon, the way a sunday was intended to be spent, thank you very much."
"I was just about to exclaim how I had just been listening to this, certain that I had just found my musical soul mate. Then, just as I begin to believe the rom-com moment I had been waiting for my entire life had finally arrived - a nurse wearing bright blue scrubs walked out of the clinic and addressed the line."

You did a really good job expressing Allison's personality through your style, it felt like I was listening to her tell the story.
Some pointers:
"Dammit," I cursed under my breath. I knew I had forgotten something. I had forgotten to charge my stupid ear pods.
(I would remove the second sentence here because it is a little redundant and not necessary because the first line already adequately conveys that you forgot to charge your ear buds, and in a way that shows not tells. That is golden.
Allison was very fleshed out in this piece so much so I could imagine myself having a conversation with her. I do wish there was some more physical description so that way I could more fully envision her in the play out of the story.

The part where you described the guy behind her offering his ear pod and playing the SAME song she was listening to just honestly felt like magic - a very giddy-worthy meet cute indeed.
I could feel through your words how her heart dropped when you and the guy had opposing numbers and he left. I felt that so strongly!
And the way you ended your story really left me on a cliffhanger. I want to know if the guy ever texted Allison back! I call for a part two!
This piece was impactful because of its relevance and also very relatable. Thank you for submitting this piece, it really made my day.

Thanks and keep writing!
- PoetryMisfit




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Sat Mar 12, 2022 3:48 pm
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momonster wrote a review...



hello! i'm here with a review for you :)

this is really well written! i enjoyed reading it. i love reading works that are relevant to our time. works like this really connect to the reader. i did spot a few things that i want to tell you about, so let's get started!

Unfortunately, it wasn't the nineties. this was the 2020's.

because it's the first word in a sentence, this should be capitalized.

These nurses had to swab fifty-seven noses before I could go home and get back to my Doctor Who marathon and strict rouine of pretending to be working from home.

1.) i really love this part!
2.) i think you mean routine here.

As I tapped my foot to the beat of How's it Going to be by Third Eye Blind, I watched a mom and her little son a couple spaces ahead of me in line,still in their pajamas and slippers.

1.) in the name of the song, the to be should be capitalized.
2.) there should be a space before the word i've bolded.

The whole world is on fire, and what do people do? They take selfies in front of the flames.

ohmygoodness i love this line so so much-

"Dammit," I cursed under my breath. I knew I had forgotten something. I forgot to charge my stupid ear pods.

Insufficient battery. Powering down.

"Dammit," I said again, taking the pods out of my ears.

because of the language here, i think you should rate this 12+ for language.

And as I watched the mom and her kid smile and take pictures with surgical masks tucked under their chins, I couldn't decide if I should be in awe of all of us, or horrified at us.

oh my goodness gracious i just love this story so much

...but this twisted sci-fi movie were all living in would have to do for now.

1.) i think you mean we're here.
2.) great way to end this!

this is such an amazing amazing amazing story!! great job writing it <3
stay safe,
momo




SofieR says...


Thanks so much for such an in-depth review. It's going to be so helpful in the editing process! I really appreciate it :)



momonster says...


you're so welcome! <3



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Wed Mar 02, 2022 3:03 pm
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Anamel wrote a review...



First impression, only a glance over: Lots of run-on sentences. More showing than telling. "I walked over here...I did this...I said this.., I moved here.." Very humorous, makes me want to read more. The narrator seems like a regular guy, funny commentary, someone that could be relatable especially in todays' time. Big chunks of paragraph that need to be spaced out to match the smaller ones. Not sure where the story is supposed to go after this--what is the point?

" It was the only clinic in town offering same-day-result testing and it didn't even open until eight AM, and already there was a line wrapped around the building."
This can be easily split into two different sentences. Such as: It was the only clinic in town offering same-day result testing. It didn't open until 8 A.M and already there was a line wrapped around the building.

It makes the information easier to digest.

"this was the 2020's."
Forgot to capitalize here.

"Boy bands were out and viral illnesses were very much in."
I love this lol

" As we got in line, we were each given a little red slip of paper with a number on it, telling us our place in line. "
If you say this out loud, do you notice it sounds a bit repetitive? The sentence begins and ends with talking about the line. It makes it feel a bit crowded because the sentence is a bit long as well. Example: As we got in line, each of us were given a red slip of paper with a number marking our place on the waitlist.

Another thing you can try doing is taking out words that aren't crucial to the sentence.

"These nurses had to swab fifty-seven noses before I could go home and get back to my Doctor Who marathon and strict rouine of pretending to be working from home."
This line is way more insightful than the casual reader would expect it to be. Although made to be funny, this tells us a lot about our narrator's personality already. I really like how you place the reader into his mindset while also making him feel like he could just be another one of us walking on the street, trying to get by with the rituals of life.

" I took a deep breath, put in my Bluetooth headphones and started the playlist I made the night before in preparation for braving this insane line. As I tapped my foot to the beat of How's it Going to be by Third Eye Blind,"
More details about the personality and nature of our narrator! You're great about giving clues to personality without making it obvious you're doing so.

" As I tapped my foot to the beat of How's it Going to be by Third Eye Blind, I watched a mom and her little son a couple spaces ahead of me in line,still in their pajamas and slippers."
However, less of explanation of his own movements would be nice. Still do it, of course, but subtly. Example: Instinctually tapping my foot to the beat of "How It's Going to Be" by Third Eye Blind, my gaze settled on a mom and her son a few spaces ahead of me.

"I don’t know why- but I couldn’t peel my eyes off them. "
No need for a dash. A comma will do just fine.

"Found out the kiddo got #covidexposed at school. Getting tested to do our part and #flattenthecurve . Also, we live with grandma who's a diabetic antivaxxer, so #prayersup for a negative result 😬."
This is so funny omg, this actually made me grin

As I stood there, sort of confused, he pointed to the offering with his chin as if to say; "Go on, take it".
Regular colon instead of semicolon. Ex: As I stood there, sort of confused, he pointed to the offering with his chin as if to say: "go on, take it."

". I watched as he scrolled through his phone, looking for a song to play."
No need to add that he's watching it. Since the story is through the POV of our narrator, we know he is watching the man if you just add in a sentence about the man's actions. Ex: The stranger scrolled through his phone in search for a song to play.

" I kind of of wish I could say that some dark cloud of anxiety hung over me as I waited in line to get tested, but the sad truth is that these tests were becoming too routine to carry any real weight anymore. Here I was, standing in line to get tested for a potentially deadly disease, and I wasn't even fazed."
Extremely relatable, know I've already said this, but you hit it on the mark.

" Positive

It felt like a punch in the stomach. "
This makes it feel like a zombie invasion/infection rather than COVID, which does show how strange our reality is right now.

I was actually really surprised the narrator was female, I don't know why, I just assumed they were male from the get-go. I really think it's unique the way you didn't give any context clues about the reader's looks or clothing, it's something to actually appreciate it. I'm hoping the next chapter will deal with something suspicious going on with that man. I'm actually kind of upset and sad this won't be a longer story with multiple chapters because now I feel attached to the main character and I was imagining some crazy, strange mystery going on with that stranger if they met up later.




SofieR says...


Thank you so much for such a detailed review, it really is super helpful. Thank you again! :)



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Wed Mar 02, 2022 2:00 pm
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nashville_skyline wrote a review...



Hello Sofie,

this is a very nice story, I liked it a lot! It absorbed me instantly and I red it in one breath which is a sign it is very well written. Also very relatable for me as I do not go anywhere without my music/earpods. :-)
The only tiny imperfection I found was in the last phrase:

"but this twisted sci-fi movie were all living in would have to do for now"

I guess you meant "..movie we're all living.." ? It took me a while to figure that out but it's probably because I'm not a native speaker :-).

Anyway as I already said - very nice story, looking forward to read more of your work!





"Cowards die many times before their deaths; but the valiant will never taste of death but once."
— Julius Caesar