Sarah Smith

I Go Back to 865: After Scarpa’s “I Go Back to Berryman’s”

All of the streets in the subdivision are named after local firefighters or what we always thought were hollers or the hills that we have always called mountains—Sammy’s, Moose’s, Solomon’s, Hinchey, Piedmont, Bays—and if you drive around them, you’ll see everything that you’d expect to see in a small town and you’ll hear everything you’d expect to hear, the gossip that Miranda Lambert sings about and aluminum foil covering a casserole dropped off for someone who just found out he has cancer and the needles and spoons and lighters that our moms pretend they don’t see, and you won’t see very many black people, and if you do see our Hispanic population, they will all be together and we won’t be talking to them, and you will see a small rebel flag flying outside the cabin where we buy our maters and our honey, which is 100 feet from an overgrown shack where they say that a slave used to live, and you’ll see a church at every turn, where all of the trucks in the parking lot have TRUMP PENCE 2016 tattooed on their tailgates and the signs say GET RIGHT OR GET LEFT and next week they’ll probably change them to TURN OR BURN and you’ll see that the church lawn is always mowed and the lights are always on and the doors are always locked, even when the pastor is there and you’ll see that right next to the church is a family who doesn’t know how to keep buying shoes as their kids’ feet keep growing or that they are valued enough to be helped and you’ll see that their neighbors live in a two story house with three full baths and a trashcan that automatically crushes whatever’s put in it and you’ll see fields and fields of corn and beans and cows and old cars and you’ll see that every single sunset over the lake with the mountains in the distance is incredible, with no exceptions, and you’ll see that there’s one small coffee shop where the people who learned to play the banjo 60 years ago meet on Thursdays and the college students go to study and the Bible study groups go to be together and it’s where I go when I’m driving around myself and I’ll get a sweet tea because I don’t like the way coffee makes me feel and I’ll stay for a few hours and then I’ll drive home, and I’ll sit in my car in the driveway for a while thinking about where it feels like I belong and I’ll go inside to tell my mom goodnight after I’ve finally tweeted: I’m so glad I know that this isn’t all there is to it.

Sarah Smith was raised in New Market, Tennessee. She is graduating from University of the Cumberlands in May 2018, earning a degree in Middle School Education with a concentration in science and English. She loves teaching the children of Appalachia, and she is excited to start a career in her own classroom. She writes creatively when the mood strikes and is looking forward to the opportunity to influence her students to love writing so they can be successful citizens who know how to use their voices well.