Cace Briggs is my youngest grandchild. He attends MS 442 located in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. He wrote this piece as an assignment for a remote class. God willing, he will enter the Eighth Grade this September. Cace agreed to permit me to publish his piece. I edited his piece for clarity but, with the intent to leave its essence and his use of language unchanged.
Every day starts with the sun coming up Vanderbilt Avenue chasing the shade away and bringing a new day. The cars start beeping at the repair shop in the old Brooklyn Navy Yard across the street from my apartment just like a rooster waking up at an urban farm.
Slowly, a meager number of cars lumber along the streets bringing essential workers to their destinations like soldiers to their posts. Many workers carpool and are dropped off by friends and family members. These cars drive off into the distance leaving only a faint noise and the smell of exhaust. And so, Brooklyn wakes up to another day of the pandemic with the rest of the world.
I begin my day by looking out onto the barren streets wondering when the day will come when cars can again populate the dark canvas. I feel sad but, after a while, I bring myself to go out for a bike ride. I believe it would be a good distraction from the somber state of the world. As I ride through the streets it feels strange to not see the bustling of cars and people riding their bicycles or walking their dogs. I had become used to their absence on previous rides, but this is such a nice day, I thought maybe it would be different.
As I cross the Williamsburg Bridge, I stop for a minute to admire the beautiful though desolate view of the East River. When I reach Manhattan, I expect at least a little traffic, but I am surprised to see almost none. After riding through the Lower East Side which only seems to take seconds. I return homeward on the Manhattan Bridge. I reminisce on prior summers when the city was so alive and intriguing. Back home, I retire to my bedroom trying not to think negatively about what feels like the apocalypse.
As the day ends, shadows consume everything making the world dark again. The cars return to reclaim the essential workers. The drivers listen to the workers’ stories of hard work and never-ending sacrifice.
That night after I heard the cars coming back, I had the feeling I hadn’t had in a while, hope.
In bed that night I know that one day I will look back on this not with sadness or hate but thankfulness and gratitude toward the people who made sure we survived and prospered.
“On the Outside Looking In,” will not appear next Wednesday and will return on July 15.