Civics Lesson

by Quin

She spoke through the cigarette smoke, letting it filter her words, her memories. "It was horrible after the fall, when the Government vanished overnight," she said, giving the word a capital letter, making it a person, not a thing. "We stood in line for everything: food, clothing, ration coupons, coupons to get coupons. My parents stood in line for two weeks to get furniture, taking turns in that line just to get furniture for us to live on, and it was bad, ugly furniture that was like our lives, flimsy and handed down, but, it was ours. When we could afford good furniture, my mother made my father keep one piece, so we could remember, as if I would forget going to school in boys underwear." Her words fell to the floor when she stopped talking, reminding me she was only 23, and all of this had happened in a time when I was worried if shoulder pads would stay in fashion another season, and I wept.


Quin, author of Words, is the nom de plume of a woman born and raised in New Orleans, who spent time in Colorado and later in Utah (where theater was discovered and taken to heart). Her children are loved forever, a terrier sleeps at her feet, and words ache to escape onto paper. Her version of life in New York is here.