An Early History of Hang Gliding by Leslie Maxwell
“The day after her mother died, Evie did not go to school. Tenth grade had just begun, and Evie had spent the last three weeks trying to decide who she would be this year, and now, here, just as suddenly, tenth grade seemed far away from her mind…”
Mirror Look At Me by Laura Tansley
“His side of the bed was cold to the touch. Her door was ajar, the bed boldly made to prove a point: she had not slept, not here at least…”
Meeting Uncle Charlie by Sarah Abbott
“My uncle Charlie drove up in his red sedan, the car in good shape but an older model, and parked to the left of our driveway…”
Three Broken Hearts by Anthony J. Mohr
“It was a Saturday in March 1963. My father and I were having lunch at the Rendezvous Room in the Beverly Hilton Hotel…”
Quotidienne by Nandini Dhar
“Mother is busy wiping off the cumin-dust from the old photographs, book-spines…”
Fog in Michigan by Michael Lauchlan
“The big tire beside the highway, the blue bridge, billboards, and all marks of a flat land vanish…”
The Lave by Michael Lauchlan
“On our wedding night, the noise jars us—thieves boosting our mower….”
Widow Gardening by Grace Mattern
“She digs in the garden, pulls weeds by their roots and leaves them to wilt…”
My uncle Charlie drove up in his red sedan, the car in good shape but an older model, and parked to the left of our driveway. I stood behind my father. I knew several of my uncles well— all of them liked to tease and tickle me while I pretended to be annoyed. This new uncle was an enigma. Not a stranger, not really; I’d heard my dad mention his brother once or twice. But he wasn’t familiar either.
I don’t remember exactly when this visit happened. Long enough ago that the boundaries of the memory are hazy like yellowed newspaper curling at the edges, or a sepia-tone photograph with indistinct faces. But I must have been at least five or six to remember it as well as I do.
My family waited on the sloping driveway to greet him. Katie, my sister, leaned against my mom. Charlie was a helicopter crew chief with the Marines and handsome like my dad—blond and blue-eyed with a dimpled smile.
Dad embraced him, and Mom shook his hand; she hadn’t seen him many times since she and Dad got married over a decade ago. Katie and I came forward to be introduced.
“Hey, there,” Uncle Charlie said to us. Anyone could see he was a little uncomfortable with kids—we weren’t his first nieces, but we were the youngest—and he tugged at his ball cap a little, reminding me of my papaw.
Mom and Dad stood outside with Charlie by his red car. They talked and caught up, glad that Charlie stopped by while he was off-duty. Like most siblings, Dad and Charlie enjoyed trying to embarrass and one-up each other. Usually, their stories cut off with Mom hissing “Ed!” at my dad, because Katie and I were young and impressionable.
I don’t remember the ending to this memory. Maybe the five of us went to dinner, or Charlie came inside to watch a Marshall football game with Dad. Maybe we drove to St. Albans to visit Mamaw and Papaw, and Mamaw entertained Katie and me by playing “Red Light, Green Light” and “Mother May I” on the cracked sidewalk. She’d stand on the porch and smoke a cigarette and watch us hop closer and closer at her instruction.
What I do remember: Charlie’s brown leather jacket was soft as he hugged me goodbye and ruffled my short hair.
That leather under my cheek still feels as real to me as my hands on this keyboard. But there’s a problem: my uncle Charlie died in 1977. Fourteen years before I was born, and several years before my parents even met.