Dear Diary,


Every day after school, I drive from the city of Jacksonville to the town of Fruit Cove. I don’t need a sign to tell me, or to cross the bridge over the St. Johns, to know I’m there. When the pine trees outnumber the streetlights, and the buildings, and the people, when they crowd the road and neighborhoods become thin slits in the wall of green, that’s when I know I’m home.


Today I take State Road 13 to my grandmother’s house. On my way I pass through a stretch of road where the endless green is interrupted by a neighborhood of churches, each a different denomination. I slow down as a man in a four-wheeler cuts jaggedly across, veering into one of the churchyards.


I keep going as the road curves and the trees thicken. At last I come to an intersection with 4 buildings, the only stores around for ten miles in every direction. A barbecue restaurant, a biker bar, a gas station, and a country store that sells gator tail by the pound. My grandmother’s house is just ahead.


The light turns green, but I can’t go. A truck honks behind me. I check my watch. I wonder if my grandmother will believe my excuse when she asks, “why were you late?”


My answer: “There was a rooster crossing the road.”

— Hannah Edwards, ‘23