Ernest Hemingway Backstage at his Granddaughter’s First Dance Recital

“Do you like my dress, Grandpa?” She asks, tulle skirt slightly askew. 

 “Find your mother and make her straighten your skirt,” he says.

 “But Mama isn’t here, so you fix it, Grandpa,” she replies, and so Hemingway reluctantly tugs the skirt into place and re-ties the drawstring. Her hair has come loose so he fights to secure that goddamn bun.  His chapped hands try to be gentle but at the same time he looks over his shoulder for witnesses. Hemingway sits on a folding chair as the line of little girls do their pony feet prancing out of the wings and onto the stage.

“You can’t sit here,” the stage manager tells him.  The dust on the floor rises up as he moves back into the shadows.  There are no goddamn fish to catch or lions to shoot, so why then does the small turns and twists of his slightly-out-of-step granddaughter seem to show more about courage than all those books of men’s great deeds?

It must be the dust that is making his eyes so watery.  He should have taken an allergy pill.


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