Editor: In this memoir excerpt which uses fiction technique to emphasize feeling, Sara Etgen Baker writes about a defining moment of her childhood as the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolded.
It was an autumn day, October 22, 1962—far enough from summer to have lost the heat and not close enough to winter to have that bite of cold. Above me, brilliant shafts of sunlight ignited the color in each falling leaf. Below me, each leaf fell, not knowing that this was its last dance in the sunlight—its last chance to play in the crisp October air. It tumbled with such elegance, but all too soon it was lost in the sea of autumn leaves swirling around my feet. Part of me wanted to find it, pick it up again, and toss it high so that perhaps it would have a second time around. But time was short; and whether I liked it or not, twilight stole away the opportunity and the vibrant colors of the day. So I scurried home crunching the dried leaves under my feet.
“Where have you been, young lady!” Mother peered around her newspaper.