Historical Fiction

All posts in the Historical Fiction category

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

WHERE TWO RIVERS MEET

Published August 11, 2019 by rochellewisoff

Karen’s directive: This week Pegman takes us to Manitoba, Canada. Feel free to use the location/picture supplied with the prompt, our take your own tour of Manitoba via Google Maps and find a view to inspire you.

Your mission is to write up to 150 words inspired by the week’s location. You may write poetry, prose, or essay. Once your piece is polished, share it with others using the linkup below. Reading and commenting on others’ stories is part of the fun!

Thank you, Karen and Josh for hosting this weekly challenge. 

CLICK THE FROG TO JOIN THE FUN

Here is the photo I chose from Google Maps. I hope one day to see the Northern Lights in person.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 150

WHERE TWO RIVERS MEET

            Blue, purple and green snaked across the night sky. Stars twinkled through the brilliant colours.

            Full and drowsy after the evening meal, warmed by the fire, Tantoo laid her head on her mother’s shoulder. “Tell me about the lights, Nikawi. Where do they come from?”

            Nikawi stroked Tantoo’s hair. “They are the spirits dancing. See how they move in circles?”

            “Nohkum says they are our beloved ancestors visiting us and we should respect them.”

            “Your grandmother is a wise woman.” Nikawi’s eyes glittered. “One day we will dance with them.”

            “I can hardly wait.” Tantoo yawned, her eyelids heavy with sleep. “I heard the elders say our way of life will end soon. Is this true?”  

             Nikawi did not reply.

            The girl could not imagine it. The Nisichawayasihk had always hunted, fished and tended the land. In return Mother Earth rewarded their reverence. How could it not always be so?  

 

26 July 2019

Published July 24, 2019 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 © Sandra Crook

CLICK ME AND HOP ABOARD!

Genre: Historical Fiction circa 1890

Word Count: 100

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Eight-year-old Charity watched the strange countryside whiz by. In the glass she caught a glimpse of her reflection. She covered her ears with her hair and tried to block out the other kids’ cruel jeers. 

“Wings for ears. Beaver teeth. Too ugly for anyone to adopt you.” 

She stepped off the train, clutching her rag doll. Schubert, Missouri looked nothing like New York.

A man and woman with prominent ears approached her. The man knelt and grinned, revealing a pronounced overbite.  He caressed Charity’s cheek. “Mama, I believe this orphan train brought us the pretty little girl we prayed for.”

 

To learn more CLICK HERE

 

 

Weekend Writing Prompt – JUDGE

Published July 20, 2019 by rochellewisoff

AA SA word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend.  How you use the prompt is up to you.  Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like.  Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise.  If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in Sammi’s Comment Section.

Word Prompt

Judge

Challenge

This week I’ve tweaked an excerpt from my novel AS ONE MUST, ONE CAN. It also appears in my coffee table book A STONE FOR THE JOURNEY. The scene takes place in 1908 in Arel Gitterman’s tailor shop. He and his wife Havah are terrified that they are about to face the same brutal persecution in America they endured in Eastern Europe. 

            Arel pointed to an official looking document in front of him. “I’m in big trouble, Havah.”

            “What’s that?”

            “It’s an indictment from His Honor Judge Wallace. I could go to prison.”

            “What crime did you commit?”

            “I’ve opened my shop on Sunday.”

            “And this is a crime?”

            “According to his Sunday labor law we’re required to observe the Christian Sabbath or pay a penalty. We Jews may open our shops, but if we sell anything we’re in violation.”

            Her gorge rising, Havah crumpled the paper in her fist. “Every ass likes to hear himself bray.”

 

****

A STONE FOR THE JOURNE Y  is available on Amazon.com

or Barnes and Noble.com 

 

12 July 2019

Published July 10, 2019 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 © Dale Rogerson

CLICK THE FROG AND ADD YOUR LINK!

Genre: Historical Fiction circa 1968

Word Count: 100

BORROWED TIME

“You stole my art,” screamed Valerie. “You scum!”   

The gun’s blast resounded in Andy’s ears.

Somewhere the Beatles sang, “We all live in a yellow submarine…”

Voices floated from the bedside television and pop art faces hovered around him.

Life mimics art.

“He had too much control over my life.” Valerie Solanas glared into the cameras.

Everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.

“Nine of Mr. Warhol’s organs were injured,” said Dr. Rossi. “Heart massage…”

Am I really alive?

Mama prayed, “Please save my son.”

I’m dead.

“Senator Robert Kennedy has been shot,” said the newscaster.

 Life is a dream.

For more info CLICK HERE

14 June 2019

Published June 12, 2019 by rochellewisoff

Dear Friday Fictioneers,

While I realize my page is FF central where you come for the prompt and instructions,the lower half of the page is also my comment section. In light of this, I have a favor to ask of all of you. When you have an issue such as problems with linking in the inLinkz or have a technical question, please direct these to my email runtshell@gmail.com. I check my email as often as I look at my comments (which I also appreciate greatly). Thank you for your consideration.

Shalom,

Rochelle

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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 © Valerie J. Barrett

 

YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO. DO IT! CLICK THE FROG.

This week’s prompt inspired me to share an excerpt (slightly tweaked to fit) from my semi-finished novel WHAT THE HEART WANTS that’s under the scrutiny of a few of my beta readers. Asher and his friend Ilya have left Eastern Europe for the USA. After living in New York’s Lower East Side, they decide to travel west by covered wagon. After surviving a blizzard in Missouri they’ve been taken in by homesteaders. 

Genre: Historical Fiction (circa 1887)

Word Count: 100

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

With a sidelong glance at Asher, Ruth smiled at Ilya. “I’ll make you some medicine tea for your head cold. Asher, will you slice the potatoes?”

            She chopped a chunk of meat and said, “Thank you, Brother Deer for providing us with sustenance.”

            In fringed moccasins, she moved about the room with balletic grace. Her yellow calico dress, trimmed with blue beads, complimented her lithe figure and bronze complexion. Her sleek braids, bound with leather ties, hung well below her slender waist.

            Ilya’s explosive sneeze startled Asher. His cheeks flamed with the realization he had not touched a single potato.

***

  • I hope you’ll CLICK HERE and read the story I wrote for another blog challenge for Writers Unite! It’s a monthly blog challenge and quite a bit longer than the usual flash fictions. (But shorter than my novels 😉 ) 

 

WITH THIS RING

Published June 11, 2019 by rochellewisoff

The following story is a change of pace from my usual flash fiction. I wrote it for the photo prompt below. It’s part of the Writers Unite! Monthly Write the Story. To find out how to participate CLICK HERE. 

Genre: Historical Fiction

WITH THIS RING

       Laura Gwynn cradled her month-old son in her arms. Lulled by the steady rhythm of the train taking her from familiar Pennsylvania to unknown Missouri, she shut her eyes. How had it come to this?

       She longed to confide in Mama or cry on Papa’s shoulder. This was never to be. Mama died of consumption and Papa couldn’t live with his broken heart. Laura had no siblings. Left alone at fifteen with nothing but a rundown farmhouse and a barren field, she sold the property and moved to the city. When she went to deposit the money from the sales at the bank the teller’s deep brown eyes and dazzling smile captivated her. It didn’t take long for her to fall in love with Thomas Gwynn.

      Not long afterward, she accepted his proposal making her a bride at sixteen.

      Thomas had a bright future with the bank.  He promised her jewels and servants. Instead, he managed to get himself arrested for cheating at cards. The night before his scheduled trial, the men he had cheated lynched him, leaving Laura a widow at seventeen.

      Filled with pity for her, Mr. Willoughby, the bank president, loaned her the money to cover Thomas’ gambling debts. He provided her with room and board and a position as a maid to pay off the loan.

      Afraid she would lose her job, she kept her condition a secret. However, her small build and short stature made it impossible to hide for very long.

      Mary and Charles Willoughby, who desperately wanted children, offered to adopt Laura’s baby.

      “He’ll be heir to the Willoughby fortune. Surely, you see the wisdom in this.” Charles, an imposing presence with bushy white eyebrows and balding pate handed her a contract. “If you sign this, the child will never have to work a day in his life.”

      Laura pressed her palms against her belly. The baby kicked against them. She remembered Thomas’ words when they wed. “You are now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”

      The child moved again. Laura refused to sign and uttered a feeble whisper. “I—I can’t.”

      “You can,” Charles thundered and waved the paper under her nose, “and you will!”

      “Oh my dear, consider your little one.” Mary grasped Laura’s hands, her faded eyes awash with longing. “Why you’re a wee child yourself.”

      So certain Laura would relent, Mary put a full layette together. She made sure Laura ate well and didn’t do any heavy lifting. While Laura didn’t mind being pampered she had no doubt as soon as Mary Willoughby had the baby in her clutches, she would cast Laura out on the street.

      During her seventh month Laura noticed an advertisement in the newspaper for mail order brides. Pictures of potential husbands accompanied mailing addresses. Laura scanned the blurry photographs.

      A young man with a pleasant face caught her attention. Alfred Cromwell. He listed himself as a truck farmer in Harrisonville, Missouri. She winced. More than she hated farm life, she hated being servant to a pair of vultures with designs on her child—bone of her bone, flesh of Thomas’ flesh.

      She had a photograph taken and enclosed it in a letter.

      A month later Mr. Cromwell replied in scrawling longhand.

                                                “5 May 1890

        “Dear Mrs. Gwynn,

       “I’d be right proud if you’d be my bride. I ain’t got much to offer but I got a sturdy cabin that could use a lady’s gentle touch. I promise to do my best to make you happy. If you  accept, I’ll be sending you a train ticket.”

             “Yours truly,

                  “Alfred C. Cromwell”

      How could she refuse? The baby would be here any day.

      The promised ticket arrived a week after Jason’s birth. One night, as soon as she felt strong enough, Laura packed her suitcase with her few belongings and Mary’s layette. She swaddled the baby, tucked him into a large wicker basket and laid a light blanket over it. Without so much as a note of explanation, Laura stepped out into the night and made her way to the depot.

      By now, the Willoughby’s had discovered her treachery. Did they send someone after her? The countryside zipped by. Jason opened his brown eyes and squinted at the early morning sunlight. Laura’s heart thudded against her ribs. She hadn’t told Alfred about the baby. What would he say—or do?

***

      Clutching a bouquet of roses, Alfred studied Laura’s photograph. “She claims she’s almost eighteen and widow woman, but she don’t look much older than fourteen, does she, Bert?”

      “That’s a fact, Alf.” His brother Bert let out a long slow whistle. “Didja happen to tell her you’re nigh onto thirty-seven? You was a might younger when that picture you put in the paper was took.”

      Alfred’s face warmed. “I mighta forgot to mention it.”

      Bert’s wife Ginny adjusted Alfred’s necktie. “Don’t you worry none. You’re still a fine specimen. Any gal would be proud to have you. As for her being a widow, it don’t matter how old a woman is. If her husband dies, she’s a widow. Plain and simple.”

      The train pulled up to the platform, its whistle heralding its arrival. Alfred tightened his grip on the flowers. He surveyed the passengers exiting the train. “She says she’s not very tall.”

      Ginny shielded her eyes with her hand and craned her neck. She pointed. “Wonder if she could be that little girl with the big basket slung over her arm.”

      Alfred inched closer for a better look. The girl in question was clad in black from her bonnet to her shoes. She stood on tiptoe as if she were searching for someone.

      “Mrs. Gwynn?” He stepped toward her. She couldn’t be more than five feet tall, if that. “Laura?”

      She raised her head to reveal surprised blue eyes and freckled cheeks framed by sleek amber locks. “Mr. Cromwell? I thought—”

      “—I’d be younger?” He took her suitcase and handed her the bouquet. “I can explain that.”

      A tear made a trail through her freckles. His heart sank. He reached for the basket. “Lemme carry that for you.”

      “No.” She blushed and shrank back. “I’ll carry—it.”

      She laid the bouquet on top of the basket and slipped her hand through the crook of his offered arm.

      “I hope the ring I bought ain’t too big.” He pointed to Bert and Ginny who waited in the carriage. “There’s our best man and maid of honor.”

      “You mean…?”

      “I figured we’d go straight to the courthouse while we’re in town.”

      Laura bit her lip.

      “Unless you’re a-changing your mind. I’ll understand. On account I lied about my age and all.”

      She flashed a quivering smile. “No. I gave you my word. My mama used to say it’s bad luck to get married in black.”

      “Hogwash!” He helped her into the carriage’s back seat and climbed in beside her. “Let’s get ourselves hitched.”

      A noise came from Laura’s basket. “That ain’t what I think it is, is it?” He leaned over and pushed the blanket aside. “You never said nothing about no baby.

      Ginny turned in her seat, her gray eyes sparkling. “Now ain’t that something, Alfie? I guess you ain’t the only one keeping secrets.”

***

      A week later, Laura cuddled Jason and drank in his sweet scent. Alfred’s snores came from the front room where he slept on a palette on the floor. On their wedding night, he had gathered his blankets and left the bed to her and the baby. “I don’t expect you to be beholding to your wifely duty until you’re ready.”

      Although Alfred couldn’t hold a candle to Thomas when it came to looks, he had nice enough features. She liked his sky-blue eyes and dimpled smile. The honest face of a simple man.

      She held her left hand up to the lamp on the roughhewn night table and studied her new wedding ring. Unlike the cheap band Thomas gave her, Alfred had taken great care to choose one with style. She admired the way the intricate filigree shimmered in the light.

      A hollow sense of desolation and shame flooded her as she reflected on her wedding day.

      The tight-lipped justice of the peace droned the marriage ceremony as it was written in his book. Ginny held Jason who howled from “Dearly beloved” to “I now pronounce you man and wife.” Laura clung to her slightly wilted bouquet to keep her hands from shaking. Alfred promised to “love, honor and cherish.” All the while he glowered at the baby.

***

      Alfred leaned against the doorjamb and watched Laura sleep. Her son curled up in the crook of her arm. Morning sunlight illuminated her flaxen hair which splayed across her pillow. Her long eyelashes fringed her translucent cheeks. He ached with longing, but he’d vowed not to push her.

      She opened her eyes. “Good morning, Mr. Cromwell.”

      A month had passed since the wedding. She still refused to call him by his first name and continued to wear black. Ginny assured him his young bride would warm up to him. She just needed time. How much time? His back hurt from sleeping on the unforgiving floor.

“Good morning, Mrs. Cromwell.”

***

       Laura decided it was high time she repay Bert and Ginny’s kindness with a home cooked meal—fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans from the garden.

       The older woman provided good company and made Laura feel welcomed and appreciated. More than that, she made Laura feel like family. 

       While Bert and Alfred worked the fields, Ginny helped Laura put the finishing touches on gingham curtains. As her needle flashed in and out of the cloth, she chattered, regaling Laura with amusing stories about Alfred.

      “He’s always been kind of awkward and tongue-tied around women. I’m the one who suggested he send away for a bride. Honey, you could be exactly what the doctor ordered.”

      Laura put down her sewing. “Could be?”

      Ginny leveled her gaze on Laura. “You ain’t man and wife yet are you?”

      Laura’s cheeks blazed. “I said ‘I do.’”

      “‘I do’ don’t amount to a hill of beans when you’re dressing like a widow and dragging your chin on the ground. Alfie deserves better and so do you.”

      Hours later, fingering the pink polka-dotted fabric of her new dress, Laura grinned. “Ginny’s right.” She dropped the green beans in salted water and stirred them.

      “Why don’t you look purty, Mrs. Cromwell?” Alfred circled his hands around her shoulders. “Smell nice, too.”

      She whipped about and gently poked his shoulder with her spoon. “Please, Mr. Cromwell. Don’t disturb the cook.”

      He dropped open his mouth. “Are you flirting with me, Mrs. Cromwell?”

      The baby in his basket whimpered. Soon the whimper grew into a squall. Laura heaved an exasperated sigh. “He can’t be hungry. Would you mind holding him while I fry the chicken, Mr. Cromwell?”

      Alfred knelt and gathered Jason in his arms. “You shore is growing, son. Come to Papa.”

      Laura’s pulse raced. “What did you say?”

      “I—I know I ain’t his pa. It jest slipped out.” Alfred held the baby tighter. “I ain’t no fool, Laura. You didn’t marry me for love. You married me to get out of a bad situation. Fact is I do love you and this here young’un. Would ya consider allowing me to give him my name?”

      She sank down on his lap and wreathed her arms around his neck. “My darling Alfie. Cromwell is a wonderful name.”

      Jason’s indignant cries rousted Laura from Alfred’s deep and lingering kiss. She looked up to see Ginny and Bert.

      Bert chuckled. “Time for dinner yet?”

      “Come to Aunt Ginny before you suffocate.” Ginny lifted Jason from Alfred’s shoulder. “Looks to me like dinner’s gonna be a bit late tonight. Your ma and pa got some serious business to attend to.”

 

 

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