Shatter Not

gold-tipped-anniversary-rose

Shatter Not

Shatter not the rose

it’s sweet bouquet

a gentle kiss

amid a world

that reeks

breaking fragile souls

cold fragments

to whom

no kiss can restore

shatter not the rose

nor its gentle kiss.

wc: 36

BearStarfire McQuinn

20 Feb 2019

0906

 

This work of fiction is written for  Friday Fictioneer ‘s 100 word writing challenge hosted weekly by the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-fields.  Come on out and join us at: Friday Fictioneer ‘s if you’re up to a good challenge, or even a really great read. These little stories are well worth your time! A Huge thank you goes to Our lovely Hostess Rochelle,  for sharing this week’s photo prompt with us.We’d love to see you around the table.

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Both Sides of the Track #5

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Photo prompt: pixabay.com

Disclaimer: This story, a fictional tale based upon actual and real memories, may contain images, words, phrases, etc. that might be offensive to some people. I have endeavored to keep everything within the confines of context, so please consider that before commenting, thank you.~ Jelli

wc: 364

 

~

Vivian’s house burning was the beginning of a summer of hate. It was a season that would reveal more than just the thinly veiled hatred; but also, a broader culture of prejudice that would mar the community for decades to come.

Nearly every night that summer, the silence was broken by the jangling bells of the old fire engine. They raced down our street; paused at the tracks, and then sped into the neighbor we called ‘Coffee Town’. After every fire, the next day would find my Grandpa driving us down the street to see the damages. More often than not, we would find crosses charred by fire staked out in the yards of black families.

My Grandpa wept openly and often as he repeated to me. “ See that, Sa’we. That is what ignorance and hate does.’ He would pause. ‘This is not how God wants us to live. God made us all the same. He loves us all the same.’

‘God loves everyone.’ I repeated, paused, then asked. ‘Grandpa, does God love the people who did this, too?’

I was a precocious child, always asking questions, especially the hard ones. My questions never flustered Grandpa. He always answered, in his own way.

‘God loves us all, Sa’we, even when we are acting in ways that make him very sad. This…,’ He pointed out the window. ‘…This makes him very sad, indeed.’

‘How do we make God happy again.’ I asked with only a young child’s understanding of God and his unconditional love for us. I couldn’t understand, really, how God could love someone with so much hate inside that they would do this. But, if Grandpa said it was so, then it was so. My Grandpa was a wise man. He’d fought in the war and was a hero. We said a prayer, right then and there, for God to touch the hearts of the bad men who did such hateful things. Then, Grandpa and I got out of the car and spoke to the family.

It was a season of hate, for sure. It was also a season of learning about love and what it truly means to love your neighbor.

 

 

Maternity

jhc-asylum

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

The heart outside the maternity window was a tradition. It shone brilliant blue or vibrant pink, announcing to family and friends below that a new life was welcomed into the world. People waited in anticipation for the tradition to play out. A new life was a joyous occasion worthy of celebration.

Not today.

Today, the heart glowed with a black light.

The family and friends below cried out.

Some screamed.

Today, the dark glow signified a death. They waited in grief to learn if the child had died at birth, or heaven forbid, the mother.

wc: 95

This work of fiction is written for  Friday Fictioneer ‘s 100 word writing challenge hosted weekly by the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-fields.  Come on out and join us at: Friday Fictioneer ‘s if you’re up to a good challenge, or even a really great read. These little stories are well worth your time! A Huge thank you goes to J Hardy Carroll for sharing this week’s photo prompt with us.We’d love to see you around the table.

Both Sides of the Track #4

burn-1851559_960_720

Photo prompt: pixabay.com

 

wc: 329

Disclaimer: This story, a fictional tale based upon actual and real memories, may contain images, words, phrases, etc. that might be offensive to some people. I have endeavored to keep everything within the confines of context, so please consider that before commenting, thank you.~ Jelli

Both Sides of the Track #4

When Daddy came home that evening, he smelled funny, like a campfire. I frowned. He smelled a lot like Vivian’s house did.

‘Daddy, did you go to Vivian’s house, too?’ I asked innocently

Daddy glared at me, his anger flaring. ‘You stay away from those niggers, ya’ hear me?’

‘James.’ My Mom interrupted. ‘You leave her out of this.’

‘Those damned niggers can go to hell!’ Daddy yanked the back door open and slammed it behind him as he left.

‘Grandpa told me that ‘nigger’ is a bad word. Why?’ I asked her.

Momma sighed and sank down on the step between the laundry room and the kitchen.

‘Come here, Babe.’ She gestured for me to join her. ‘Nigger is what some people call black people.’

‘Is Vivian a nigger?’

‘No.’ Momma hugged me. ‘A nigger is anyone who is poor and doesn’t behave. They’re stingy and mean people. It has nothing to do with the color of your skin.’

‘Why do people hate people with brown skin?’

‘Because, they don’t know any better. But you know better, don’t you, Babe?’

I nodded. ‘Why do people have brown skin?’

‘They have a special something in their skin to protect them from the sun. A long time ago, they came from another place on the other side of the world. There is a lot of sun there, so God made their skin different. That’s why.’ Momma smiled and kissed my forehead. ‘And, you know that God made all of us beautiful, too, don’t you?’

I nodded again. ‘But, Mommy, why does Daddy smell like Vivian’s burned house? Why did he call her a nigger?’

Momma sighed and hugged me tighter. ‘Daddy doesn’t know any better, Babe. It’s what Memaw and Papaw taught him.’

‘Maybe you could teach him better, then.’ I suggested with all the innocence of my age.

‘Maybe. Now, let’s pack up some food and the stuff from the closets for Vivian and her family.’ Momma suggested.

~

Both Sides of the Track #3

Author’s Note:ALL PEOPLE ARE CREATED BY GOD AS HUMANS AND ARE EQUAL IN HIS SIGHT! I believe this with my whole being. I also believe that given the nature of this story, this needs to be said.

ALL names, places have been altered. Events are real though set within fictional environs.  There will appear words, phrases, etc. of a durogatory manner over the course of this story. This story deals with prejudice, racism, etc. and it is my hope that none will take offense with the knowledge that the words are true within their context. Please keep this in mind before commenting. Thank you.

burn-1851559_960_720

Photo prompt: pixabay.com

wc: 785

Both Sides of the Track

Chapter One, cont’d.

~

I heard the yelling, the chanting, long before they came near the tracks.

‘Niggers leave!’

‘Niggers die!’

Vivian’s eyes widened until I thought they would pop out of her head. She dropped her doll and dove for the dark recesses where the ramp angled down to the ground.

‘Vivvie, what are you doing?’ I cried, picking up her wooden doll with the pop-knot rope hair.

‘Shh,’ She insisted. ‘They’ll kill us for sure. I gotsa hide.’

‘Nigger’s die!’

‘Niggers leave!’

The chanting grew louder.

‘Hide, Missy. They find us… we dead.’ Vivian’s voice shook with fear.

I hid, too. But, I looked through the rotten boards. It was a whole group of men, dressed up and wearing white hats. Their eyes looked out of black holes. They shook big sticks with rags on the end high into the air.

‘It’s a parade.’ I whispered to Vivian.

‘No, it’s lynchers, what it is.’ Vivian reached up to cover my mouth. ‘Shh.’

‘Death to Niggers!’ They chanted even louder as they crossed the tracks into the black neighborhood.

As soon as they passed us, Vivian shot out of the darkness.

‘Hey, where – …?’ I called, but she’d already made it past the boulder at the corner of the alley.

I ran out, too, but it was to follow the parade. I stuck close to the houses, behind the bushes and trees. Their chants filled my ears. I followed them until they stopped in front of Vivian’s house. I watched her mom run inside.

One of the hooded men sat a bucket on the ground and everyone put their sticks into it. Then, someone made fire, and passed it around. While this was going on, other men nailed the windows shut and secured a board across the door. I watched from behind a bush across the street as they torched the house with Vivian’s Mom inside.

I saw her at the door, pounding and screaming.

I ran.

I ran all the way home and to my Great Grandfather’s arms. In a rush of broken words I told him Vivian’s house was on fire with Vivian’s mom inside. He jumped up to the phone.

There were a lot of police cars, then. I saw the fire truck, heard its bell. I wanted to run and follow. Grandpa wouldn’t let me.

‘Grandpa, what’s a nigger?’ I asked as he held me on his lap.

‘That’s a very bad word. I don’t want to ever hear you say it again.’ He wheezed.

‘But -…?’

‘Never!’ He pulled me close, kissed my head, and I heard him praying out loud for Vivian and her family.

Later that afternoon, we all got into Grandpa’s car and drove down past the tracks, all the way down to Vivian’s house. The whole front of the house was blackened and smelled like a campfire. My Grandpa told me to stay in the car as he saw Vivian’s dad come out to the porch, a rifle resting across his arms.

‘Stay in the car, Sa’we.’ Grandpa told me as he opened the door and got out.

I watched through the window as Grandpa approached the porch, his hat in his hands.

‘Howdy, Mr. Landry. I’m sorry for what happened here. How is your family?’

Vivian’s dad was a big, burly man. He was the strongest man I knew. I’d seen him empty the full garbage cans every week with just one hand. But, when Grandpa asked about his family, his shoulders began to shake and pained cries came from his lips.

Grandpa pulled him into a hug. I watched, afraid for my friend’s momma. Was she okay? Did she burn up? Finally, they separated and Grandpa picked up and returned Mr. Landry’s gun.

‘You’d do well to keep that handy, Sir.’ Grandpa said. ‘I’ll have my granddaughter Meg bring your family some dinner this evening.

‘Thank you, Mr. Jacobs. You are good folk. Thank you.’ Mr. Landry blew his nose again.

‘God made us all.’ Grandpa pointed upwards before coming back to the car.

‘You see that, Sa’we?’ He asked, pointing to the house.

‘Yes, Grampy. I see it.’ I was on my knees looking out the window. That, Sa’we, is what ignorance and hatred does.’ He choked on his words, sounding angry. ‘God made us all the same, Sa’we. God don’t care about the color you are. He loves us all the same.’

I sat down as he backed the car out onto the road. I began to sing ‘Jesus loves the little children’. Grandpa tried to sing, but he kept choking on the words.

 

 

Fire…

bonfire-anshu

PHOTO PROMPT © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

It was the fire.

Every time I looked at it, I was drawn back to my childhood. The smell took me back to a hot Summer Saturday, a best friend, and innocence lost. It was the beginning of a season that would shape my psyche for eternity. A season when I learned the face of true hatred, and basked in the warmth of true love. It was nineteen seventy something…

Hatred came down the street dressed in white robes and with chanted threats of death. Even now, I can still hear them in my mind…

wc: 95.

Sorry to cut it off there, Folks. Word limits and all. I have so much to say, so little space. ARGH!

Anyway, this picture fits so well with a piece I’m writing right now that I had to ‘go there’. If you’re a mind to read more, then please, look up “Both Sides of the Track” on my page. I’ve got up 2 entries so far and am still writing… 🙂 Love ya all, ~Jelli

Here are links:

#1 – https://jellicostation84.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/both-sides-of-the-track-1/

#2 – https://jellicostation84.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/both-sides-of-the-track-2/

# 3 – New – https://jellicostation84.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/both-sides-of-the-track-3/

 

This work of fiction is written for  Friday Fictioneer ‘s 100 word writing challenge hosted weekly by the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-fields.  Come on out and join us at: Friday Fictioneer ‘s if you’re up to a good challenge, or even a really great read. These little stories are well worth your time! A Huge thank you goes to Anshu Bhojnagarwala for sharing this week’s photo prompt with us.We’d love to see you around the table.

 

 

Both Sides of the Track #2

wc: 485

Author’s Note:ALL PEOPLE ARE CREATED BY GOD AS HUMANS AND ARE EQUAL IN HIS SIGHT! I believe this with my whole being. I also believe that given the nature of this story, this needs to be said.

ALL names, places have been altered. Events are real though set within fictional environs.  There will appear words, phrases, etc. of a durogatory manner over the course of this story. This story deals with prejudice, racism, etc. and it is my hope that none will take offense with the knowledge that the words are true within their context. Please keep this in mind before commenting. Thank you.

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Photo prompt: Google images, unknown contributor

‘Both Sides of the Track’ #2

Chapter One

‘Too-ah, too-ah, toot.’

Living a mere three houses from the track, we didn’t need alarm clocks. We didn’t really need clocks at all. We had two Amtrak trains a day, and they were always on schedule. The morning train woke us for the day, and the evening signaled bedtime. At noon, the livestock train signaled lunch. Needless to say, the tracks played a significant role in our lives.

Living three houses away held another significance as well. It was like we lived on an invisible line that zig-zagged between the houses along the tracks. It was an invisible line that divided the rich from the working poor.

The house beside us was on the rich side of the line. Ours used to be on that side of line. It was before my Mom was born, though. Back then, ours was the only house on the street past the mansion on the corner of the avenue. That had all changed with World War II and my Gran falling in love with a soldier-boy who left her pregnant out of wedlock. After that, the line was redrawn and our home was socially cut off.

‘Too-ah, too-ah, toot.’

The morning train told me it was time to rise. No school today, though. It was Saturday. Every kid lives for Saturday and I was no exception. Saturdays were always full of adventures and dreams. As soon as I could, I was out the door and headed for the railroad tracks.

We all gathered at the old loading ramp on the ‘white’ side of the tracks. The old ramp was a neutral zone of sorts. All the neighborhood kids played here, regardless of social or racial status. At the ramp – or, rather, under it – we engaged in top-secret planning meetings for underground wars and clandestine adventures. Then carried out in the surrounding yards. All of this within arms reach of the rails. Here, at the ramp, the invisible lines disintegrated. We were just kids having fun.

Out of this group, my best friend was Vivian. Vivian’s parents were descendants of actual, real, slaves. They were like hermits… seldom seen, even less were they heard. Vivian was like that, too. At school, she hung back. She sat behind me in class. We were ignored by the teacher most of the time, and often left out of activities. Vivian and I understood who we were and our place in the social structure of elementary society.

It is safe to say that at that age, we didn’t comprehend the full ramifications of segregation or prejudice. All we knew was friendship. That all changed when we were eight. That Saturday morning began so innocently in our ‘secret’ clubhouse under the loading ramp. Neither of us realized that the day would end in sorrow and unanswerable questions. Questions that would bring a reality into our lives as quickly as the train flew down the rails.