1 September 2017

Published August 30, 2017 by rochellewisoff

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The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit. 

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bulltot

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100


            Edith studied the yellowed photograph of a young mother cradling a toddler with dark curls on her lap. She had arrived at Castle Garden from Poland only to be diagnosed with the dreaded disease.

            Surveying the overgrown, supposedly haunted ruins, Edith imagined her 19-year-old great-grandmother, stricken with smallpox and imprisoned behind the granite hospital walls.  

            “Left to die without her child. It must’ve been terrifying,” Edith whispered to the sobbing girl beside her. “But haunted? Nonsense.”

            “Iz es itst, grandoter?”

            Edith whipped around in time to see Great-Grandma Edith, pockmarked cheeks wet with tears, vanish like smoke through a keyhole.




Note – The translation for the Yiddish is “Is it now, Granddaughter?”

109 comments on “1 September 2017

  • A dark, sad, and creepy ghost story today, Rochelle. What a marvelous thing the smallpox vaccine was. Both my parents had contracted tuberculosis when they were young and shortly after a vaccine for it was discovered. Both of them pulled through but my dad lost a five-year-old aunt. My mother said the vaccine was so new and strong she broke out in big sores. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Suzanne,

      Sadly, doctors no longer administer smallpox vaccine in the US. I’m not sure I agree with that one. Although, I adamantly refuse the flu shot year after year. That one I don’t trust. :/ In any case, I’m glad you liked my story and took the time to say so. Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

  • What a horrifyingly haunting and sad tale you’ve woven for us this week, Rochelle. Just how to top it…that will be a challenge. It is good fodder that fits right into “Gatehouse East” story, perhaps another scene for that one. 🙂 Off to specialist today to see about shoulder!

    Liked by 1 person

  • All those dreaded diseases that is no longer part of our life. I’m scared that there will be new and old one returning. My father survived TBC as a kid (otherwise no me)… We have grown so confident that diseases are from the past… what especially scares me is the antibiotic resistance that is building, and with no vaccine we are vulnerable once again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Björn,

      These are my thoughts exactly. It seems to me that since the Smallpox vaccine was so successful, it should be continued. Who’s to say there won’t be another outbreak.
      Funny, (and not so funny) I still remember our family doctor back in the early 60’s refusing to prescribe antibiotics for everything. His reason being just what we see happening. A building resistance to them so when they’re truly needed they will be ineffective.
      Thank you for taking your time to read and comment.




  • Health warning – sciency bit only for those interested!
    Smallpox vaccinations are no longer necessary anywhere in the world because the disease has been wiped out. The only virus left is in half a dozen very high security laboratories.
    There are several other diseases that have nearly been eliminated. One of the most important is polio, which has nearly been beaten. Unfortunately, human conflict and religious extremism are impeding the heroic efforts of medical staff to finish the job. (I say heroic, because some of those administering vaccine have been murdered for doing so.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Such a horrific and devastating disease, smallpox. You can see why people were terrified enough just to lock away sufferers – it killed so many of those who contracted it. Just the thought of being locked up, leaving your child behind.Elizabeth I nearly died from smallpoxI believe, which means the poor woman would have been left with pock marks along with her lack of hair and rotting teeth – what a picture she must have been!
    Such a well written tale and you manage to tick the ‘haunting’ box for me in a couple of ways – a ghost that will stay with me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lynn,

      I’ve seen a few photos of smallpox survivors. Horrifying indeed. As highly contagious as it is reported to have been I can understand why they would quarantine the sufferers so far from society. Thank you for your kind comments.



      Liked by 1 person

      • Understandable, but a frightening and tragic end for the person with the disease. It’s like the stories you hear about times the Plague hit here in the UK (which of course it did quite frequently for centuries). Stories of entire families – sick and well – being boarded up in their homes and left to either die or survive. The actions of a terrified populace just trying to survive.


  • Dear Rochelle,

    You do these stories as only you can. I don’t even want to imagine what that poor young mother felt, for the time she was alive. I would think that knowing her daughter was safe would be priority but oh so heartbreaking.

    Lotsa love,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dale,

      I can’t imagine how this young woman must’ve felt during her final hours. Baby taken. Didn’t understand the language. In pain with fever. Not a pretty picture. 😦 Thank you as always for your encouraging words. It’s always nice to know that stepping out of my comfort zone worked. 😉

      Hugs coming your way.



  • Dear “One Crayon” Katy,

    You sure have a lot of spooky ancestors. I wonder how many of them ran away from the circus to settle in the midwest? Scary stuff indeed.

    Care to try and win a teddy bear? We have them in purple.
    Twisted Carnie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great ghost story,Rochelle. I love the humour in-between the sadness. I think that’s one of your special gifts: describe harsh realities but never forget laughter. I’ll never understand why people stuff themselves and their kids with antibiotics and other drugs and balk at vaccinations.


  • Great flash, Rochelle, very creepy and yet sentimental. I love the way you identified that moment when someone says they’ll never do something or believe something, and then something happens that changes their mind…

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,
    I promise I did not read your story before penning mine, but they are sadly, oddly, so similar. It was such an intriguing photograph. Initially, I thought that it must be a crumbling castle or monastery somewhere across the pond. To my surprise, I discovered that it is located in NYC! Of course, it’s gruesome history led me to write my story. And then I read yours. So strange.

    I do imagine it is a haunting place to visit.

    Peace to you,

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle

    Good morning.

    There is a lightness in this prose, a deftness, which left me wondering if Edith’s imagination did not conjure the essence of Great Grandma Edith, who was living on in her?



    Liked by 1 person

  • So sad for the dying mother . Her pruned-out wishes and dreams is so terribly unfortunate. It is believed in our tradition that sad spirits linger on and sometimes even do harm to passers-by / visitors. Great grandma seems to have been a good soul. I loved the great-grandma talking to her great granddaughter in Yiddish . Such a vivid other-worldly touch at the end .
    Wonderfully wonderful, Rochelle and a brilliant fusion of dimensions/ emotions . Sorry about the super long comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    Smallpox was a terrible disease and I often worry that my children and grandchildren have never been vaccinated against it.

    Your haunting story is a sad reminder of how those who contracted smallpox and survived it, were left badly disfigured.

    As you can see, I’ve returned to Blogland, as promised, at the start of September 🙂

    Speak to you soon, hopefully sometime next week.

    All best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sarah,

      I’m happy to see you back. I hope you received my reply to your email right before you left. I’ve been having some issues with my emails reaching their destinations.

      I worry about the lack of vaccinations, too but I’ve been told that smallpox as been eradicated world wide. We can only hope. Meanwhile, thank you for your lovely comment.



      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Rochelle, I did receive your email, and loved it. Thanks 🙂 I was just being torn in all sorts of directions, so had to abandon ship (the computer) and take refuge on the “little island” for a few days. Of course, now I’ve returned, I’ve had to catch up with jobs, so still haven’t got on top of computer stuff. The first thing I’ve felt obligated to do is write all the book reviews I’d promised people. Have now done that now, so hopefully I can get myself organised to start writing my next novel and keep up with my blogging, plus taking breaks to bite my nails while waiting for a response re my current submissions.


  • A really interesting history, but so sad. I guess you can comfort yourself the administration was trying to cure gr-grandma rather than imprison and afflict her for political or religious reasons.
    Too bad the apparition wouldn’t have stayed long enough to answer some questions about family history. 🙂
    On a different vein now, have you been handing out teddy bears to certain gayer individuals —with a noose around the poor thing’s neck. He’ll be breaking out in purple spots of anxiety.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Christine,

      Perhaps if I’d had a few more words to play with Great Grandma might’ve stayed longer. 😉

      Can’t say I’ve handed out too many teddy bears. But I sure have been giggling a lot since Wednesday. 😀

      Thank you and Shalom,



  • Spooky story. The global eradication of smallpox is perhaps one of the biggest triumph of modern medicine. I knew that smallpox devastated the Native American population but had no idea that a hospital for it existed in New York.

    Liked by 1 person

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