Choices: Prologue and Chapter 1

old hand writing for journal

PROLOGUE and CHAPTER I
Journal
of
WILLIAM FEATHERSTONE
Born on July 13, 1801 in Canada, the son of an English foot soldier.
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I, William Featherstone, shakily ink my pen, early on this morning of the twenty-fifth day of February, in the year of eighteen hundred and eighty-eight, with mixed purpose and aged hand.  I pray the prudently written words about to be spilt upon this journal lying blank before me, can somehow bridge the chasm too long existing between the offspring of my daughter I left behind in Tennessee and my children in Texas, for my blood flows through all your veins. Perhaps the words to come will reveal as much to myself as to those of you who read them when I am gone.

Aware that my sun is sinking low and that I have reached the end of my worldly pursuits, I have a few regrets.  I have only one move left in me, that great mysterious exodus just over the horizon, so close now I expect I could reach it in a day or two, if I hurry.  But I am weary, and choose instead to drag my feet a bit, to bide my time.  I need to examine the choices I made in this life, ponder those I did not.  I spend much time lately wondering about the role Fate played in it all, and whether the choices I made were ever really my own.

Just as I am being drawn away, I feel compelled to record my existence on this planet, and to expose myself, the good and the bad — to you, all my offspring, wherever you are, desiring, of this I am certain, to know and perhaps vindicate your own history.

My eyes, though dimmed, have seen all of what humanity has to offer, the best and the worst — the kindness of gentle folk and the brutality of the devil’s own.  I have known good fortune, terrible loss, hardship, and recovery.  Always recovery, for I am a man of strong will and resilience.  I come from good people, as well as I can remember, although I, myself, have not always behaved accordingly.  My greatest regret is my act of desertion, not of my country — no, for that I have no compunction — but the abandonment of my own, not once but twice, lies heavily on my heart.

My youthful quest for new adventure, shadowed later by a driven need to escape my own shameful past, drove me onward still, chasing that elusive ideal called freedom. Ill-conceived actions born out of anguish and fueled by rage set in motion deadly conflict and ruin. The bloody adversity left in my wake haunts me relentlessly, even after all these years.  I fear the consequences of my mistakes will revisit you, my descendants, long after I am gone.

Perhaps old age is affecting my sensibility, leaving me superstitious, irrational, but I implore you, heed this warning: be knowledgeable of the sins of your ancestor, lest history repeat itself.

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Chapter I
A Drummer Boy
1812

Continue reading Choices: Prologue and Chapter 1

Mother of The Groom

Mother of the groomJo had planned to spend the weekend in Dallas with friends, until Sean walked into the house early that Saturday morning completely unexpected. The guest he brought with him set off alarm signals, activating motherly instincts Jo had never experienced. Continue reading Mother of The Groom

There is A Story There

writing cover

As a genealogist, I often discover occurrences where the facts beg to be more closely examined. Odd circumstances poke at my natural skepticism. Actual recorded facts, or the absences thereof, nag at me and I wonder what happened? Why? In order to ease frustration accompanying the realization that some things can never be known, I simply don my fiction writer’s cap and let the process begin, for there is always a story there. Continue reading There is A Story There

Death of A Waitress

burning house

Nell, investigative reporter for the local paper, sat in her usual place in the corner booth facing the courthouse. The coffee shop, eerily quiet this morning, might as well have been draped in black. Shocked and saddened by the death of the restaurant’s best-loved waitress, the customers drank their coffee in silence, remembering Suzanne. Still numb four hours after receiving the call, Nell shook her head in disbelief. Her friend had died overnight inside her burning house. Continue reading Death of A Waitress

Child of Mine

not child of mine imageGretchen was unaware when she locked the door of the hair salon she managed that a terrorist of the worst kind roared murderously down the interstate, not ten miles away, toward the farm she rented with her mother. The late afternoon sun would be casting long shadows across the backyard where her six-year-old daughter would be playing, perhaps gathering the eggs from the hen house. No, Gretchen did not know that today was the day of her nightmares, the imaginary day she never talked about to anyone. Continue reading Child of Mine

Anna

10615543_750628908335948_3061001722993227426_nWhen I was a young girl, I read a story about a woman and the actions she took, simple as they were, to hold her home together. For some reason that story has remained with me. The message of the story is still relevant today, I think, for it speaks to the importance of the image we present to those in positions of authority over us, and the powerful influence that image holds, good or bad.

There’s still value to be found in putting our best foot, or face, forward. Of portraying ourselves in the best light possible, no matter our circumstances.

Time was, a man’s good name was the only collateral he needed at the bank. It was his bond, and his best asset was a good wife. Times have changed, but the importance of good impressions remains. Continue reading Anna

Old Love Letters

5358500730_1b0b3d16f6_zShe filled an empty shoe box
with all his old love letters.
She tied it up in yellow ribbon
to hold them all together.
Sometimes when I’d visit,
she’d take them from the shelf
and one by one she’d read to me
the words of love he’d left.
Then with trembling hands,
she’d return each one to its place.
As she caressed the satin ribbon,
a smile would touch her face.
I was only a child back then,
and could not comprehend
the meaning of the phrases
or how long she had treasured them.
Recently, those old letters
fluttered across my mind.
Suddenly I wanted very much
to read them line by line.
She’d been gone for quite a while,
her belongings scattered about.
I was stunned when I discovered
they had thrown “that old box” out.
There was no room for “all that stuff—
just a bunch of musty ol’ papers.”
So, they burned them every one,
her box of his love letters.
I wish I could have saved them,
I’ve regretted it ever since.
Her name was Emma, and his was Ernest.
They were my mother’s parents.
Anita Stubbs

Whispers from A Grandmother

Life restricted her, bound her cruelly,
limiting her as I have never been.
She was confined to servitude by female bondage,
her body used, spread-eagled under male dominance,
her purpose, predetermined,
without choices to be pondered.
Life just prodded her along
through the mud and the blood,
though she never traveled anywhere
other than to church occasionally.
A good suffering Christian,
she spent her life on her knees,
scrubbing, praying, begging.
Praying he’d come home sober,
then begging him not to hurt her.
She whispers from the shadows,
though she’s been gone for sixty years.
Only I still hear her, taste her bitter tears.
She whispers from the shadows,
uninhibited by space or time,
empowering me to dignify
the memory of her name.
Grandmother, kind and gentle,
a woman, wise and strong,
born with all the hopes and dreams
any girl has ever known.
Although she never saw the world,
or read its finest literature,
she had the gift of healing,
of knowledge never learned.
She had courage and compassion,
and tolerance for her pain.
She did her birthing at home, mostly alone,
and kept her humor through it all.
She should have been honored,
praised, worshiped on a pedestal.
Instead, life laid its burdens upon her,
and kept her tethered to her stall.

Mother in Law/Daughter in Law: For Better, or Worse

motherinlaws_1936228cAt times, I find myself alone and in the dark, perched somewhere high out on a limb, so to speak, of the proverbial family tree. I feel like some old night bird curiously fixated upon those scurrying and hurrying about within my range of vision. In an attempt to make some kind of sense from all of life’s conjunctions intersecting my path, I ponder the complexity of family ties. Continue reading Mother in Law/Daughter in Law: For Better, or Worse