The Person Underneath

Sabine Kay
16 min readFeb 26, 2021

A story about an educator who has trouble keeping her mask on.

Wearing a mask is exhausting. I take a deep breath. Thinking about how this is not permanent. It goes on once a day. Before, I take that brave step outside of my car. It comes off once a day when I have safely made my way home. My skin underneath itching to be set free the entire time.

It was a muggy late March morning. Typical, Mid-Atlantic weather, foggy and humid. Just last week, we had four inches of snow and the temperature barely reached thirty-four degrees.

Photo by Andres Perez on Unsplash

I opened my car door. My mask clinging to me, providing security. I worked at a school as an art teacher. I had gone to art school expressing myself through my favorite medium, painting. I could not be a hungry artist, as a young black woman I wanted to escape poverty, move as far away from that as possible. Not like I had experienced extreme poverty before. I had a typical suburban upbringing. My neighborhood was diverse. I loved this. The employees in the local school system I had grown up in and now taught in did not reflect the diversity of the community.

Teachers, administrators, other professional school staff were predominantly white and female. Touting the latest hot views of race and social justice. Myself gagging at this.

Telling me a black woman about the difficulty of the black struggle.

“Hi, Lauren!” I said, cheerfully. I smiled too broadly, flashing a straight toothed smile at the secretary.

“Well, hey Kinsey. How was your weekend?” she asked. Lauren was a middle-aged white woman with light brown hair, blonde highlights streaking through it. Her teeth weren’t exactly straight, but they weren’t crooked either.

I acted with overt cheer and happiness.

“It was super. I finally got to get out and go for a hike,” I lied.

“Oh, how nice. What trail did you go on?” She asked.

“Just to Rock Creek,” I said, “Well, I hope you have a great Monday, and let Shelly know I said hi when she comes in.”

“Will do, and same to you Kinsey.”

Sabine Kay

Sabine Kay just a girl who likes to write.