: 1.7 to Tennessee :

an excerpt by Jamie Quatro


Eva Brock made her way along the shoulder of Lula Lake Road.  She was eighty-nine—tall, bent forward from the waist.  Her white pants hung from her hips so the hemlines of the legs pooled onto the tops of her tennis shoes. Her narrow lips were painted orange-red, and her long steel-gray hair, tied up in a bun, smelled faintly of lemon.  Loose strands hung about her cheeks and trailed down her spine.  She wore a pair of headphones that created a furrow across the center pile of her hair.  The cord fed into a chunky cassette deck/FM radio hooked onto the waistband of her pants.  She was listening to NPR.

In her pocket was a letter, addressed:  Pres. George W. Bush, Penn. Ave., Wash. D.C.  Seven envelopes she had thrown away before she felt her handwriting passed for that of an adult.  The letter itself she dictated to Andrew, one of the McCallie boys who went down the mountain for her groceries.  Andrew wrote in cursive on a college-ruled sheet of paper.  She preferred he type it, and considered offering to pay him an extra dollar to do so, but when she finished her dictation and Andrew read the letter back to her, she grew excited and snatched the paper from him, folding and stuffing it into an envelope.  Then she realized she hadn’t signed the letter, so she had to open the envelope and borrow the boy’s pen.  Andrew offered to mail it for her but she had made up her mind to deliver it to the post office herself.  She took great pride in the fact that she, an eighty-nine-year-old woman, still had things to say to the president of the United States.  It was a formal letter, protesting the war.  She felt it her solemn duty to place it, personally, into the hands of the government.