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At Forty

By Yulia Tseytlin

PROMPT—During Covid-19 ...

At three, I didn’t shove a thin stick in my mother’s nose, saying ‘corona-test’.

At four, when I played school, a mask wasn’t the first thing I asked for.

At five, I wasn’t forced to quarantine, for the fourth time in the last three months, after another kid in the daycare had tested positive.

At seven, I didn’t have to concentrate the whole day at school while my face sweated under a piece of cloth.

A teacher didn’t scold my friend, whose mask had slid down his nose, that because of him a grandma would die.

My first day of school was celebrated with all first graders together with their parents and the teachers and the bigger kids. At music lessons, we sang. At sports lessons, we actually did sports.

At forty, I see my kids and my kids’ friends.

And a twelve-year-old who is prohibited from attending his swimming training.

And a fifteen-year-old who can’t find an internship.

And a child psychotherapist telling me demand for him and his colleagues skyrockets.

At forty, I stand by the window and watch steel grey sky and bare trees. Giant snowflakes rush down, melting before they reach the ground.


Yulia Tseytlin is a Russian-Israeli that currently resides in Germany. A Doctor in Economics, she explores the genres of literary fiction, contemporary fiction, and poetry. Her debut story appears in the other side of hope.


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