This is an excerpt from the 2019 Macaron Prize finalist in the category of nonfiction, judged by Sheila Kohler. Learn more about the prize winners and order the print issue at the Cagibi 2019 print issue page.
I’m old now, almost as old as my grandfather was the year I turned 16. Most days I have nary an ache or a pain, as he used to say, but I’m groggy this morning, my splotchy hands shake a little as I shave, and I notice, getting dressed, that there’s an unaccountable bruise on my left arm. Yesterday Chérie pulled too hard on her leash—we live in squirrel heaven, the dog and I—and my knees are sore, both of them. I want to lie down again, sleep another hour, but I make an effort, take the dog outside, pick up the Daily Progress from the driveway, then feed the dog, fill her water bowl, pour a cup of coffee, and plunk myself down at the breakfast table. A headline above the fold on the front page reads, “Judge affirms councilors can be held liable in statue suit.” An angry lost-cause group is suing the Charlottesville city council for supposedly violating a state law that protects war memorials by voting to remove larger-than-life equestrian statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
In May, 1963, the black-and-white TV news showed the Birmingham children’s crusade: 1,000 adolescents and teens trying to march from the 16th Street Baptist Church to City Hall. Fire hoses, police dogs, billy clubs, paddy wagons. But I lived far from the trouble. I got my driver’s license that month, and, when the school year ended, moved in with my country cousins. My mother and aunt worried about Gramp’s driving, always too fast, and without the quick reflexes of a younger man. I was to spend the summer chauffeuring him and his sister, my great-aunt Marguerite, the 20 miles from their home in Sharon, Pennsylvania to their office in Warren, Ohio, then spend the day as a laborer in the foundry before driving them home again. …
For the full story, order the Cagibi 2019 print issue.