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The Cooperative
by David T. Pennington

Cloaked and mystified, we drift past each other, hidden smiles inferred from a crinkle of the eyes, a lifting of the cheekbones, a slight nod of the head. Revealing responsibility through partial obscurity, we honor the perished and safeguard the vulnerable. Though our species has the unique ability to envision the future, we often fall short of taking the long view. That shortcoming is a result of another distinct trait of ours: hope.

We hope it will be over soon, this masking and distancing, and that hope protects us from imagining a future in which our children feel as naked without face masks as we feel without clothes. But our hope, our faith, is not blind. We will lead ourselves into the future we desire—one where hugs and smiles have replaced separation and concealment—by being alone for a while. We must be apart now so we can be together later. In time, the experts among us will develop defenses against the invisible enemy. Until that knowledge fully unfolds, we will continue to drift past each other, still cloaked but perhaps a little less mystified.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Lately, I have been quite upset by science deniers and protesters against shelter-in-place. For this piece, I chose to ignore them completely, focusing instead on the majority. For the most part, we are strangers looking out for one another, and that deserves to be highlighted.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David T. Pennington is the author of The Peer Through Time Chronicles. While his associate degree in computer programming helps pay the bills, his bachelor’s degree in psychology has informed his writing. His love of fiction—mainly mysteries, science fiction, and thrillers—is balanced by his fascination with books on futurism, theoretical physics, and cosmology. Find out more at davidtpennington.com and visit his Amazon author’s page.