Table Of Contents
Here is a short story about a birthday party that tries to celebrate the boy's day and end COVID.
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The Tale of Genji is the world’s first novel as we know it. Murasaki Shikibu, a noblewoman and lady-in-waiting, wrote the novel in 11th century Japan.
In the original edition, almost none of the characters had names and were referred to by titles and honorifics because of Heian-era Japanese court etiquette.
Mask Burning - Short Story
The ending of a situation has come to be a fascination that humanity can not stop thinking about. Whether we are contemplating the end to our own lives, the very society we are in, or to a story we are being told, we simply can’t get over asking, “How does it end?”
Now we don’t know about the ends of our own lives. There could be a heaven, but it’s not like I have been there for vacation, so that is only a guess, really. We could end our modern lives with nuclear war, or maybe some natural disaster will lead to the lack of resources we need to survive. If there is a third world war, there is not going to be a fourth one soon after it, since there will most likely not be any of us after the third world war. We do know how this story ends, though. The kids burn their masks to represent the end to COVID.
Is it really the end of COVID? What about the variant still going around? There are still some who are wearing masks, though? What about them?
You know what, why don’t you just read the damn story? I am not a doctor. I am the narrator. I can only tell you of the character’s story as it unfolds; I can’t cure diseases.
I don’t know if this is the end of COVID, really. I am not going to talk to you about the variant here. I can’t explain why some people still wear the masks despite not having to.
I can tell you that on one late June afternoon, a party took place for a kid that was supposed to commemorate the end of COVID. Freddy was turning 11, and his mom thought that there would be no better way to celebrate his birthday than to have a bunch of kids over the house and burn their face masks. The face masks that have become a symbol for the virus that destroyed the year 2020. By eliminating them, the people at the party are symbolically killing COVID. I mean, sure, if that is what the partygoers are into, then who am I to judge? I am the asshole who questions drinking games because I like to get drunk without cups or balls being thrown across the table, so what do I know? Of course, Freddy’s mom would be responsible for burning the masks, as the kids would not be allowed too close to the fire, but nevertheless, the masks would be burning at 11-year old Freddy’s party.
Freddy’s parents, Jennifer and George, agreed that the party would be best for the children, which is, of course, another way of saying that Jennifer liked the idea, and George went with it.
There is one person who was not too keen on the idea of this party, Freddy’s uncle, Kel. He didn’t agree with the whole charade, not because of the possible dangers of the virus or the dangers of the kids spreading it. No, he was upset because the event had to happen at his house, for no other reason than he is the one of the two brothers that has a large backyard where the burning of masks would be no problem. Yeah, Uncle Kel didn’t care about the COVID virus. He was more upset that kids were coming over his house. The guy barely talks to his neighbors (aside from Tommy), now his house is going to be filled with parents of people he didn’t know. At least Kel will have alcohol available to him.
Of all of the kids, it was Teddy that Uncle Kel liked. He could tolerate the naïve youngster as the two sat at the kitchen table eating breakfast as their mother prepared the fire outside. Neither wanted to help her since they knew once they did, they would be helping her the rest of the day. They both ignored her, knowing that the responsibility for party setup would fall on George if they said nothing.
“So, how was the school year? Aside from the fact that the pandemic killed any chance of you enjoying it.” Uncle Kel asked his nephew.
“It was ok.”
“Learn anything interesting?” He asked, not really interested.
“I learned that when you say less after a word, it means that there is none of it.”
“Oh…. You spend a whole year of schooling for something like that. Your mom must be proud.”
The kid ignored the adult at the table. “Pointless means that the thing has no point. Fruitless means no fruit.”
“Mindless means no mind.”
“Oh, yeah. But that wasn’t an example the teacher gave us.” Freddy continued to eat his cereal.
“They wouldn’t want to spell it out for all of you, I guess.”
They both sit there for a bit until the uncle tried to change the topic of the conversation.
“What else has been going on in your life?”
“I got a new video game.”
“Yeah. The hero has to explore the seven worlds of Akira. Each world has a crystal, and by gathering the seven crystals, you can defeat the main boss. Each world has its own boss, though, so each time you get a crystal, the next boss is harder to beat.”
“Of course.” The uncle was lost on his nephew’s description of a game until then; he didn’t know existed.
“You have to collect different outfits and weapons since each world is made of a different element.”
“Why wouldn’t it be?”
“My friend Harry says that if you beat the game on normal and then play it on hard, there is another extra main boss. Isn’t that cool?”
“Look, I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but you’re a kid, and I don’t care about what you care about.”
“Kids, either don’t think of the shit you think about is so stupid and pointless that it is practically equal to not thinking. Now, you may think I am being an asshole, but when you’re older, you’ll understand.” He sipped his cup of coffee. “Kids are stupid pieces of shit that are only good so that we can continue to have more of us here. The only reason they even have schools is that kids are too useless to have real responsibility at your age.”
“So, what is something I should learn?”
He muttered to himself, “The teacher obviously missed the word useless too.”
The mom, Jennifer, entered from the outdoor. “Are either of you going help me? Kel, can you get up off your butt and help a little?”
“Oh, I was actually going to show Ted here the gift I got him.”
“You were?” Teddy asked, surprised.
The two rushed into the other room avoiding the kid’s mother.
“So, what did you get me?” Teddy asked about his gift.
“What did you get me?”
“Oh, nothing. It’s a surprise.”
“So you said this to get out of helping my mom?”
“Pretty much.” They both sat down on the couch. “I’ll be honest with you; I don’t even want to have the party here; setting it up is another thing altogether.”
“What, you don’t like my friends?”
“Kid, I barely like you.”
“Hey, I got something to show you. Something you may like.” Uncle Kel got up from the table and headed to the counter. He picked up a baseball card that was sealed shut. “Look at this baseball card I just bought. Do you know who this is?”
“No.” The kid said, disinterested.
“Oh, come. I thought you liked baseball.”
“Nah. Not really.”
“Then you are going to be disappointed in what I got you for your birthday.”
The two then sat on the couch, unsure of what to say to one another. The uncle wanted to talk about the new baseball card that he spent a lot on, while his nephew wanted to talk about his new video game.
“Well, this card is the most valuable card around. And I just bought it.”
“Why would you buy a baseball card? That is silly.”
“This card is priceless.” He handed the card to the kid to inspect.
“So it has no price?”
“In a way, yes. See, a thing that people do is to get as many priceless things as possible, and those with the most priceless things are considered the most important people.”
“But if the things have no price, how can you tell the difference between something with a price and something without it?”
“My nephew, you have learned a valuable lesson today. Stuff doesn’t matter. We only think it matters, which then makes it matter.”
“Even though it doesn’t really matter.”
“Wait, so what actually matters?”
He took back the baseball card. “Teddy, my friend, if you figure that one out, let me and everyone else on this earth know.”
The mom came in from outside, “Your dad better be back from the store soon since neither of you is helping me.”
“How about we catch an early movie?” The uncle suggested to the birthday boy.
George came in with two full bags of party gear. “Boy, have I got a bunch of stuff for this party.”
“Unless you want to stay here?” The uncle repeated.
Teddy noticed all the stuff that his dad was putting on the table. “What’s playing?”
The uncle and nephew headed for the door as the uncle shouted to the dad across the room. “I am taking the kid to see a movie. Bye.”
The two went to see a movie that neither really liked, but that was better than spending all day setting up the decorations for the party. The unfortunate other two, of the mom and dad, were stuck handling the party affairs. Both were exhausted when the first guests came over.
The party has started. A mid-afternoon barbeque dinner of hot dogs and burgers was already being served. All the kids were over by the food, getting what they could eat. In part of the large backyard, three men stood staring at the fire, plates in their hands. There was George, the father of the birthday boy, Uncle Kel, and the neighbor, Tommy, who had no kids but knew of the party and was friends with Kel.
Tommy asked the question everyone had. “So your wife thought it was a good idea to have the kids burn their masks at this party?”
“She is calling it a “mask burning” It is to bring in a new era of our happiness and end COVID.”
“That is so stupid.” Uncle Kel responded right away.
“Of course it is! But I want to be able to sleep in my own bed tonight.”
“Fair enough.” Tommy understood.
“Did I tell you guys that I got a mint condition rookie card of Ken Griffey Jr?”
“Wow, that must be worth a lot.”
“Oh, and by the way, your kid doesn’t like baseball.”
“I know that,” George answered.
“Well, I didn’t.”
Jennifer then called all the kids together to get their masks. There was some resentment from some of the boys who felt that they could put their masks in the fire all by themselves, but Jennifer knew better than to allow that to happen. All the parents stood as she put masks in the fire, which was admittedly less than spectacular. The scene went on for another few minutes as Jennifer tried not to put all the masks in the fire at once. The only parent not in the backyard for the burning was Uncle Kel, who had one too many beers, and was lying down inside.
A girl from a parent that Uncle Kel didn’t know or care to know came running inside. When she saw the middle-aged man on the couch, she called out to him. “Hey, did you see that fire! It was because of all the masks!”
“No. Really? I had no idea. This whole time I thought our neighbor's house was burning.”
Teddy came in the room as excited as the girl. “Did you see those flames? They were so high.”
“What did you kids never see a freaking fire before?” Uncle Kel complained.
“What are you putting in the fire?” Teddy asked the girl.
“I don’t know. I’m looking for something.” She left the room, continuing her search.
Teddy directed his attention to his uncle. “Mom said that we could put one extra item in the fire if we wanted.”
“Sounds exciting.” The uncle said disinterested in his nephew’s fire or new girlfriend.
“So I put in that priceless baseball card you showed me earlier.”
“You what?” He leaped up from the chair.
“Yeah, I figured you wouldn’t mind because you said it had no price.”
The uncle covered his face with his hands. “Because priceless…”
His nephew finished the thought, “Means it has no price.”
“Of course it does.”
The girl came back into the room with a whiffle ball bat. “Mind if I burn this?”
“No problem. I don’t even like baseball.”
Did You Know?
The most expensive baseball card ever sold is the 1914 Babe Ruth card. It sold for more than 6 million dollars.
5 Things About COVID-19
COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease of 2019.
The World Health Organization gave the virus its name on February 11, 2020.
There is no evidence that shows that COVID-19 can be transferred by eating or handling food.
As of July 4th, 2021 there were over 33 million American cases of the virus.
Ken Griffey Junior -
Ken Griffey Jr. is a major league baseball player who played 22 years in the MLB from the years 1989 to 2010. He had a Hall of Fame career and hit 630 home runs while playing for the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds. He is often regarded as one of the best to ever play the game.
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Greg Luti is an editor and blogger on pensandwords.com. His favorite writers are Robert Frost and Charles Bukowski. He enjoys reading up on history, watching comedies, and playing video games, when he is not writing down a few notes for his next piece. He started this blog out of his love for literature and hopes that the reader shares that same passion.
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