Trip to the New World

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The old world had been good, but not perfect.

What would this new one hold? She’d never been told exactly what this place would be like, and all the souls held in the bow of this ship were similarly confused – if they even spoke the same language.

Which, much to the sailors’ consternation, most of them didn’t.

She couldn’t understand the sailors’ tongues, but she did understand their sticks, whips, and clubs. She understood angry glares, uncaring tones, and raised hackles. She understood the chains around her wrists and ankles.

And she could guess their destination wouldn’t be fun.

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This was written for the August 22 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge, old world.

Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

The Founding of Pewabic

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Horace Caulkins, owner of the local kiln, harrumphed when he saw her paint. “That’s a pretty pattern, but what an ugly color.”

Mary Chase Perry dipped the brush in the delicate glaze and swept the liquid over the plate. She formed a delicate circle, close enough to perfect that few would notice any off-center bits. “You own the kilns. You should know this olive-green will become the loveliest blue when it’s fired.”

“I make teeth, ma’am. I use only white glaze, not this frilly stuff.”

Mary dipped her brush back in the pot. “Would you like to change that?”

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This was written for the July 4th Carrot Ranch prompt, Keweenaw Microhistories. You can read some of the microhistories from the National Park website here. I chose to write about Mary Chase Perry because the idea of her and Horace forming their company was interesting to me. Also, if you follow the link to the kiln’s page, you can see the history of Pewabic Pottery and glean more info on how Perry founded her company.

Photo by Toa Heftiba Şinca on Pexels.com

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Paints of Peace

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“Dance well.” I stroke my fingers across my son’s cheeks, drawing symbols to praise the creator. “Please the gods and praise their creation.” The white paint of peace applied, I clean my fingers then swirl them in a blue paint made of crushed berries and buffalo fat.  This will remain smooth through the day while the white clay cracks and falls. I hope my paints strengthen him throughout the ceremony.

“It is excellent, mother.” My son in his ceremonial clothing exits the tent.

A white soldier frowns and, through the translator, growls, “Why are you painted up for war?”

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This was written for the June 27th Carrot Ranch Prompt, paints. What I was going for here was the misconception/falsehood that native Americans used paint only for war. How many times, do you think, white people used that as an excuse to perform evil? I shudder to think.

I would credit the photo, but it technically isn’t required and the username was… well, it wasn’t very nice, haha!

With a Splash

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It would help if they didn’t wiggle so much.  But boss says it’s cleaner, quieter this way.  I do as boss says.

I tie the cinder block to the potato sack full of human refuse, then toss the concrete over the bridge. It hangs in midair.

“No! Don’t do this!” the sack shouts.  Damn, he’s undone his gag somehow.  I hate it when they do that. Now I have to pick him up and toss him by the legs so he won’t bite me.

He splashes into the canal.  I wait ten minutes to confirm the job is done.

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This was written for the June 6th Carrot Ranch prompt, splash.  It actually took me a bit to figure out what to write for this one, but you know what?  I really like gangster stories, and I like the story of Rasputin (which this reminds me of a little).

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Consumption Chic

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The princess awoke amidst heraldry and cushions. Her red lips and flush cheeks were perfection straight out of bed. She put no hensbane in her eyes, as they were already bright.

She coughed into a handkerchief as she stood and found blood left behind. Such is the price of beauty!

(50 Words)

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As part of my series where I showcase different prompts across WordPress, this was written for 50 Word Thursday.  In addition to the photo, Kristian and Teresa gave this quote:

“Her lips were red and perfectly shaped, her cheeks blushed prettily when she spoke.”
– Neil Gaiman, Stardust.

If you’re looking for a flexible prompt, look no further than 50 word Thursday!  You can do anything as long as you write in increments of 50 words.

My response was inspired by the fashion trend in the Victorian era to look like you had consumption (or tuberculosis).  People would do things like dilate their pupils to look pretty, or give themselves that healthy flush that was indicative of certain stages of the infection.  Consumption chic was so popular, in fact, that it actually delayed diagnosis of tuberculosis in many women who followed the trend.  CRAZY.

A Trip to the Well

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Sally lugged the bucket of water up from the well.  Her hands stung from the day of labor, but the taskmaster wouldn’t ease up.  She picked up the pail and carried it while the foreman fiddled with his whip.

Struggling to remain standing, Sally tripped and spilled half the water in the bucket.  She chanced a look at the foreman, hoping emptily that the foreman hadn’t noticed.

Scared of the whip, she dumped the bucket and ran towards the foreman.  She placed the empty bucket over his head, punched him in the gut, and took off for the Railroad.

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This was written for the March 21st Carrot Ranch Prompt, ‘Bucket of water.’  I thought about how so many people, especially women, are enslaved to carry water – even today.  I chose to take a Southern slavery setting because it’s been most well taught to me, but it’s disturbing that so many people have to struggle and hurt for something I get to have so easily.

Picture by Hansben on Pixabay.

Carve the Cake

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The cake melted like butter beneath his carving knife. He chiseled through the icing and fondant, into the raspberry jam and vanilla center.

“What did you wish for, Pop-pop?”

Pop-pop gave the granddaughter a toothless smile.  Though his eyes were clouded from cataracts and his body now feeble, he put the knife to the table smoothly and handed his “little pet” a slice of cake.  “If I tell you, will you promise to make it come true?”

“Yes.”

“I wished to share another cake with you next year, sweetie.”  He pinched her cheeks and cut another slice of cake.

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 Besides being my normal Carrot Ranch Friday, it just so happens that today – March 15th, 2019 – is Andrew Jackson’s 252nd birthday.  I celebrated by making gold half-eagle cookies (which you don’t get a picture of because I should be a contestant on ‘nailed it’ and they’re terrible) and finishing this month’s reading.

Fun fact: Jackson did have a grandaughter, Rachel, who he loved dearly and called his “little pett” in letters because he couldn’t spell for shit.  He lived to see many more birthdays than literally anyone expected he would.  In fact, he’d lived through so many things he shouldn’t, that people started asking him for medical advice.  Ol’ Dr. Jackson would prescribe his patients thing like melting brown sugar in a brandy fire then mixing it all together and drinking it, dissolving mercury chloride in warm milk and drinking it before bed, or even performing surgery on yourself (which he had done).  Many people continued to vote for him long after he died.

So please, have a pleasant day!  Enjoy freedom, peace, prosperity, and all that you may have with you.

Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

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“All dis for jus’ a speakeasy.”  Detective Banks spat, surveying the grisly scene by the garage.  “Deez gangsters are despicable.”

A beat cop with Tommy gun in hand nodded.  “Yeah, all four of the shooters had to’ve been real bad guys.”

“All four of ’em?  Where you pullin’ that number from, kid?”

The beat cop shrugged.  “Nowhere.”

“Old ladies in the ‘partment cross the street says four cops did it.  You know anything ’bout that?”

“No.”  The beat cop sneered, held his Tommy gun a little higher.

Detective Banks spat again.  “Case looks unsolvable.  Now, clean this mess up.”

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This was written for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge for February 14th, Valentine.  And what can be more Valentine’s than the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, save for the martyrdom of saints? 

Historical Info: On February 14th, 1929, some of Capone’s south-side gangsters teamed with a couple corrupt cops to slaughter 7 enemies in the North Side gang.  Though there were suspects in the murder, none of them were ever arrested due to lack of concrete evidence.  In this flash, I make the connection between rampant police corruption – which Chicago had at the time – and the unsolved mystery.  

A Farmer’s Wife

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Della’s nails always had earth under them.  Despite the bonnets and sleeves she wore, her skin would never be as milky-white as fashions required, as the folks in town would desire.

She surveyed the plains, ready for tilling and fertilizer.  Her horses swished their tails, her husband stood behind the plow.  In one hand she held the reins to another horse that pulled a wagon laden with manure, and with the other she held a pitchfork ready to toss the fertilizer onto the ground.

This smelly job would enrich the earth and keep the farm running, her family fed.

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This was written for the January 10th Carrot Ranch Challenge, Enrich.  My teeth are doing well, I think, so the alarm is over!

True Love

He was a friend of mine. I bought his headstone and put him in the earth.

His parents were poor, but I was sure he wouldn’t have had even a wooden marker tied with twine.

He’d been kind to me at the stamp mill, seen me as an equal, a confidant.  We were to be married, a convenience to him and freedom to me, if God hadn’t chosen to take him home.  His parents were ever grateful that I was willing to hide their ‘mistake.’

But how could John’s life be a mistake when I loved him so deeply?

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This was written for this week’s historical Carrot Ranch Prompt on Cora Kingston and John Yendow.  I’ve taken ENORMOUS liberties with John’s life and Cora’s sensibilities, but who knows?