A family recipe, a childhood memory, a Depression-era handout
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Sarah Braunstein’s first novel is The Sweet Relief of Missing Children. She lives in Portland, Maine, teaches at Colby College and the University of Southern Maine, and works with elementary-school students through the East End Power Pens, a group she founded. She’s learning everything there is to know about car engines and clean energy from her eight-year-old son.
Our car climbs a hill, and as we descend, we see it: A dinosaur. A swaying beast, disappearing into the woods. There’s a car stopped on the other side of the road, its doors open. Did it stop to see the dinosaur? No. The dinosaur stopped the car. A woman stands in the road, waving her hands. We see two young girls in T-shirts and shorts but no shoes, standing together in sparkling shards of glass, screaming. Billy slams on the brakes.
My ninety-two-year-old grandmother died on August 1, 2009, after a long decline. I wasn’t there during her last moment. Nobody was. The nursing home said she died at 1:45 PM, which is when the nursing-home attendants — underpaid women in practical shoes, with pictures of toddlers in their pockets — had gone about their routine bed checks, entered her room, and found she was no longer breathing.