Tuesday, September 26, 2017

"H"




I keep still-frame snapshots in my mind of election day: the near-empty parking lot (more efficient Texans had voted early), the kids selling “liberty lemonade” at the entrance, a map of Austin spread out over the lobby wall, the elderly black woman waiting below it with a sign that said, “Information.”

“I’m here to break the glass ceiling,” I had told her.

“Then you’ve come to the right place,” she said. Her eyes found mine and in that moment, I knew her whole life story and she knew mine.

An elderly Hispanic man found my name on a list of registered voters. “Did you come by yourself?” he asked.

“No,” I said. I lifted a picture from the pocket of my wool coat and raised it eye-level. “I brought my daughter.” A mouth of missing teeth grinned at the man. He smiled back and motioned me over to the nearest empty booth.

I stepped in and began scrolling through the screens, voting on the local elections first. Prop whatever, commissioner such-and-such, I didn’t care (I knew I should but I didn’t); just get me to the sweet stuff.

After the state elections came and went, the camera lens sharpened; my heart began beating faster. I was so close to the glass ceiling, I could almost tap it.

Her name was a blur from my tears but it’s a blur I take with me everywhere.

I hit the button beside the “H” of her name; deprovisioning the chains, emptying the flour to the kitchen floor, biting the sea in an unladylike blink, writing a page into history.

I reached into my coat pocket and touched the grin with the missing teeth. “This is for you,” I whispered. “This is for you.”

…and it still is, and has been every day since. This is for her, this is for us. I wake up in the dead dawn in this unquiet alternate universe and cast my vote beside the “H” where the letters of her name have long since faded away and new letters have emerged in the face of her defeat – because evil won and good is gone and hope is our only candidate.

- Erin Passons, 9-20-2017
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