Weight bears on my face, temping to drag down the corners of my mouth
But I use all my strength keeping them afloat, my smile secured.
Assuring one last time my smile is moored I step into view
And immediately wish to flee and hide in a bathroom stall.
Shaking, I take a deep breath and slowly shuffle my feet forward
And approach “Stranger #1”. My muscles freeze but I push through.
I arrive in front of her after my endless three-foot journey,
And she hands the sacred black file to me and shakes my right hand.
I continue from “Stranger #1” and walk down the line of strangers,
Each shaking my hand with their wet, germ infested appendages.
I think about the hundreds of hands I have indirectly touched,
And the number of bacteria, now crawling across my skin.
The thought stays as I walk down the steps and back to my broken seat,
And I begin to feel the bacteria while I sit, waiting.
I barely hear the music playing, but still stand up with my class
And on cue, we proceed up the staircase to the rear of the turf.
Hundreds of family’s stampedes towards us to find their progeny,
Looking like a swarm of ants. The sight deepens the feel on my skin.
My own progenitors’ approach, unaware I have lost control,
But I back away from their embrace, beginning to suffocate.
The bacteria crawl in my mouth and nose, so I try to scream
But with them in my throat I cannot, and the world fades into black.
I open my eyes and see the bacteria have disappeared,
And, so have my family. Weight drags down the corners of my mouth.
I let them sink unchallenged and walk to my car, wondering why
I didn’t realize until they left all I had to do was blink.