Masks of Industry
by Cecilia Kennedy

A parade of masks stretches out on Facebook, their straps trailing the pages. Sleek, sparkling—full of bold patterns and vibrant colors—they go by on industrious friends’ posts. People I know are turning them out—20, 30, 100 a day. Some have made hundreds, and they donate them. Beneath the posts, the memes march past, on the edges of the fabric, reminding me “there is no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.” I’m not supposed to judge my “productivity based on what was ‘normal’ in January.” But I do. I do, when I see the masks. And here I am, in the middle of a pandemic without a sewing machine or talent for sewing.

Refreshing the page just lengthens the parade. Teens make N95 masks on 3-D printers and fly planes to deliver supplies. The fireworks at the end are the announcements: Masks Required in Stores. In a panic, I knock on the neighbor’s door to ask for a donation. I’m handed four sturdy masks that are too big, but maybe they’ll shrink.

In the store, we watch each other with wide eyes—looking, looking, looking. I like the strawberry print that another woman wears. Someone else wears a pink flamingo patterned mask—and I wish I could make my own. I’d fashion it from old jeans and bedazzle it.

When I’m done shopping, when I’ve held my breath while walking past mask-less strangers, I place my covering into the wash, hoping I can get a tighter fit. That’s my super- power: shrinking. I snap a picture of my work and add it to the parade. A caption about my progress reads: “Four masks shrunk during lockdown. How the sun and moon do shine!”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cecilia Kennedy taught Spanish language, culture, and literature as well as English composition and literature courses in Ohio for over 20 years. She now lives in the Greater Seattle area with her son Alex and her husband Nathan. Since 2017, she has published over 20 short stories in literary magazines and anthologies online and in print, including The Writing Disorder, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, Flash Fiction Magazine, Mad Scientist Journal, Coffin Bell, Headway Quarterly, Open Minds Quarterly, and Gathering Storm. Her blog Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks chronicles her humorous attempts at cooking and home repair.