This was the year of the Kennedy-Nixon election. My stepfather was for Nixon, my mother was for Kennedy. They argued loudly every night while they ate dinner, beneath my bedroom, after I’d gone to bed. I sided with my mother, and Ohio being a very conservative state in those days, I got pounded at school the one day I dared to wear a Kennedy button. At recess, twenty schoolmates from my all-boys school formed a large circle around me, and when my back was turned, whoever was out of my sightline would rush in and give me a clout from behind. My mother and stepfather agreed not to vote, to cancel each other out, but they both went out and voted anyway. The morning after the election, Mr Mikhally fumed, in his fluent but syntactically odd English, “It’s the ruination of the country!”

Kelly Nowels