PENANCE

Published August 18, 2019 by rochellewisoff

Today Pegman travels to the Florida Keys at the bottom of the United States. Like the other Torch Keys, it was probably named for the native Torchwood tree.

Stroll and around and see if you can find something that interests you. When you’re done, write 150 words and link to the prompt using the frog below. Remember, reading and commenting is part of the fun!

Thanks to Josh and Karen for hosting this weekly challenge.

To play add your story click the frog.

Sunset Siesta Florida Key

This week I revisited an oldie posted for Friday Fictioneers in January of 2013. It seems to fit the prompt so I added 50 more words. 😀 

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 150

PENANCE 

            Jonathan gazed at his reflection in the cracked mirror. Self-loathing flooded him. He took pen in hand, the hand that only an hour before had closed the eyes of a deceased child, still hot with fever. Imagining his beloved’s sweet countenance, Jonathan wrote:

                                                3 December in the year of our Lord 1765

Dearest Catherine,

            It is with deep regret I write that I shan’t return to England. I cannot for I would not have you plight your troth to a murderer.

            Now I must remain to make amends.  

            At the first the savage misliked me and I feared him. But over time we became friends. Together we laughed and fished the Seminole way in this Florida paradise.

            Surely these people threaten us with war. Yet it was neither my musket nor my dagger that felled my warrior brother and his son, but my white man’s curse—smallpox. 

            Penitently yours,

                        Jonathan

39 comments on “PENANCE

  • Dear Rochelle,

    It was bad enough the white man invaded. They killed more with the diseases they brought over than the muskets they used. How can poor Jonathan not feel some responsibility? Even if he, personally, did not bring it..

    Beautifully done,

    Shalom and lotsa love,

    Dale

    Liked by 3 people

  • That he regrets what’s happened – even calling himself a murderer – is so touching. His regret and heartbreak come through so strongly in your story. Do you imagine he really never went home? Or perhaps, after a certain amount of time had elapsed, he felt he could be the husband Catherine deserved? What if in the meantime she – brokenhearted – marries another? Wow, your story has set my mind racing! Lovely stuff, Rochelle. Hope you’re well 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  • Such a touching story, Rochelle. I would also like to believe that at least some of the people in Jonathan’s position realized that they were the cause of the smallpox deaths and felt responsibility for it. Even if it wasn’t intentional, it is to Jonathan’s credit that he wants to somehow make amends.

    Liked by 1 person

  • yikes – chilling with the smallpox ending.
    and when I was planning for my piece – I read a bit and almost went with a Native American theme – and I smile to read the Seminoles here – had friends who went to Florida State and that is their mascot –
    also – nice idea to tap into some of your older pieces of fiction – well done

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Yvette,

      In 7 years I’ve written one or two flash fictions. 😉 Many of my readers haven’t read my earlier ones and it’s also fun to edit and often change the bent of it some. Glad you liked it and took the time to say so. Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

      • hahah – “one or two”

        and you are right that many readers have not seen them and those that have – might not mind the new take on them,

        and side note –
        I have only 2 and 1/2 years of flash fiction under my belt and have to say what it has done to me as writer has been amazing.
        It has made me succinct and careful of words in a way that stops verbosity or loquacious paragraphs.
        I do not think I was too wordy prior to writing flash fiction, but there was fat – and learning to trim the fat is a crucial skill.
        and I recently was flowing the writing of a blogger – who teamed up with a photographer – I actually follow the photographer and so tried to follow the writer with their project.
        and guess what – she was too wordy.
        and after three paragraphs of her sloppy words and on and on – I sometimes did not even realize what she was getting at.
        I thought “she really needs to do flash fiction” big time!
        I did not speak up because I did not know her at all and felt there not enough of a rapport to make such comments – so just stopped following along – but it really reminded me of the value of writing flash – so good for writers –
        🙂

        Like

  • Thank you for this story, Rochelle.
    The realities of the plight and blights brought on – sometimes willfully but also sometimes quite without knowing one carried death with their very touch and breath – by Europeans into the Americas (and into other places in the world besides), are ones that are still too easily pushed aside in a way of picking and choosing what to remember. When in fact, the very reality that there are so few left to tell the story of the indigenous is a testament to how thoroughly wiped out, pushed out, oppressed, minimized, erased, and harmed they have been.
    The story puts a human face on the offender — an unwilling and penitent offender at that. There would have been sufficient suffering without the added cruelty of those who’d inflicted harm for harm’s sake.
    I hope John finds consolation, somehow, in knowing he’d not done this willfully.
    So well done!
    Na’ama

    Liked by 2 people

    • Na’ama Y’karah,

      Your affirming words assure me that my message came across as intended. Looking back on this history saddens me. It wasn’t until years of being inundated with Cowboy and Indian Westerns where the “only good Indian was a dead Indian” that the truth surfaced. I’ve recently been criticized for my stance on the genocide against the indigenous. I was told that I’m “jumping on the bandwagon” after I wrote my spin on Thanksgiving. https://rochellewisoff.com/2015/11/25/27-november-2015/ This piece so angered my critic that he recently brought it up again in conversation, telling me I’m being very one-sided. But hasn’t the other side been told ad-nauseum for centuries? (My latest, as yet unpublished, novel is Jewish boy meets Shawnee girl. Both have suffered separate horrors…he, the pogroms in Eastern Europe and she, the brutalization of the Indian boarding school-two themes about which I’m passionate.)
      Back to the story at hand. 😉 Yes, I hope Jonathan finds consolation, too. Stepping off my soapbox and saying, “Todah Rabbah.”

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

      • OHHH, I will await your new – yet to be published – novel!
        I, for one, agree with you that not only is it important that the stories of those whose voice were taken, be told; but that it is even more important that those who tell them aren’t ‘only’ those who are the descendants of those who were silenced. We are ALL of us part of the society that allowed, silenced, watched, witnessed, enabled, justified, swept under the rug, and more … Whether we were the oppressed, the oppressor, or the watcher-by or the keep-your-head-low-potential-next-victim … We are all responsible for speaking truth, uncomfortable though it might be.
        I’m with ya.
        Hugs
        Na’ama

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Nan,

      Smallpox was indeed a scourge until the miracle of vaccine. The disease was too often fatal and if a person did live through it they were left disfigured and scarred. I don’t remember my vaccination at all, but I do have the scar on my left arm. Thank you for reading and leaving a nice comment.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • This piece radiates kindness and remorse. How awful to find yourself rewarding friendship by, even unintentionally, depriving your friend of his wife and child. I found myself wondering where in Florida this was, although I see Britain controlled FL during these years. This man was more evolved than many of his contemporaries, I expect, in accepting responsibility like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I wonder how many of his age felt any remorse at what they did, intentionally or just by being there. I cannot believe that some did not, no matter the philosophy and politics of the day.
    A poignant story; told with sensitivity.

    Liked by 1 person

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