WEP- Change Of Heart

HEART SF ♥

It all happened so fast like an ocean wave pulling her out to sea, the wedding in Dublin and the birth of their son, then the voyage across the ocean to a new country. So much hope about what the future would bring. There had not been much to look forward to back in their home town. The oldest son had inherited the farm. Nothing to do but look for the future far away from home in the land of opportunity, America.

Norah missed her sisters and their easy chatter as they all worked in the field. Two of her youngest sisters had already emigrated to Canada, and just one sister and brother remained on the family farm.

“We’ve all been washed out with the tide, carried to distant shores, and now just your letters make me feel like home,” Norah whispered as she put away the latest letter from her sister Mary Ann.

Norah was busy settling into her new home and expecting her second child in a few weeks time. She was grateful to have a roof over her head and that her husband had steady employment even though they lived in a flat. They scrimped and saved to buy a house. They took in boarders, new immigrants from the old country whose lilting speech pulled at her heart. Norah and Garrett were happy to help the newcomers get on their feet. Norah was especially fond of Jack, a young single man who reminded her of her brother. He always had a smile and was quick to laugh. There were jolly parties with fiddlers playing jigs and reels. They didn’t have much in material things, but their music and friends kept their spirits strong.

“When I hear the fiddlers play I could almost believe I am still home in Tipperary,” Norah spoke wistfully after the party ended.

“This is my home now,” replied her husband.

She knew he missed the old country and the horses he used to care for on the farm. Norah bit her lip hard and kept silent. She didn’t want him to think she was unhappy. He was working so hard to make a home for them.

“I do love the evenings when the fog rolls in. It makes me want to cuddle up with you.”

Garrett smiled at his young wife as they walked back to their bedroom, their borders already asleep for the night. It was in the early hours of the next morning when the cataclysm struck. A horrible rumbling and then a violent shaking threw them from their bed. They rushed out of the flat with the rest of the occupants. The air was filled with screaming and the sickening sound of buildings collapsing, with wooden planks and bricks falling into the street. They stood dazed on the sidewalk.

“We better get what we can out of the building before it collapses,” Jack shouted. They quickly ran a relay in and out taking what they could as the building groaned and creaked ominously. They hadn’t had a chance to save much but their lives.

The army moved into the city at the request of the mayor to keep order, provide first aid, and prevent looting. Tent camps were set up in public parks for the survivors who found themselves homeless. People walked around in stunned silence while a child wailed for his mother.

The buildings weren’t the only things broken by the quake. Water mains underground ruptured. Stunned residents salvaged whatever belongings they could, treated the injured, and counted the dead. The moans and cries of those trapped in the rubble would haunt them for years. Their young border, Jack, was killed when a wall collapsed on top of him as he tried to rescue a child.

A woman made breakfast for her family unaware of the broken chimney that caused a fire that burned down her house and half the city. The broken water mains prevented water from reaching the hoses of the firemen. People would later call it ‘the ham and eggs fire.’

What Norah and Garrett couldn’t salvage was burned to ash. They joined the other displaced people in bread lines and tent cities that were set up in public parks. It was the next night that Norah gave birth in one of those tents to a daughter, Rachel. Some of the women assisted in the delivery. An older woman told Norah, “Your little girl baby will have special powers because she was born at night. She will be able to see the dead.”

A chill ran through Norah as she heard the prediction, but she shook it off saying, “That’s old country superstition. We left that behind when we came to our new home.”

“I’m sorry I brought you to this place, Norah,” Garrett whispered as he watched his wife and new baby sleep. His young son Patrick was curled up against his mother’s back.

Many left The City, but the ones who remained were a hearty, optimistic lot, not ready to give up so quickly. Norah and Garrett were counted among those brave ones.

“It all seems like so long ago now,” Norah said as she closed the door to their new house on Eureka Street. “All the bad times are behind us.” Norah walked into the kitchen to finish supper for her little family while Rachel played with her toys on the floor. Patrick had started school, and in a while, they would walk down the block to pick him up. Norah was stirring the stew when she heard her little daughter muttering. She looked over to see Rachel was staring at a kitchen chair and talking as if someone was sitting there.

“Do you want to hold my dolly, Jack?”


WEP Write…Edit…Publish August 2018 Challenge Change of Heart is hosted by Denise Covey, Nilanjana Bose, and Olga Godim.

Word count: 960

Full Critique

Featured image: ‘San Francisco before the earthquake’ ( unknown author) via wikimedia.org

 

55 thoughts on “WEP- Change Of Heart

  1. Denise Covey

    Deborah, I really felt for this young couple and their family making a new life in the land of opportunity when disaster struck. The earthquake seemed very real. I like the ending where it appears the woman’s prediction came true. So much more in store for this family now!

    Thanks for posting for the WEP challenge, Deborah. Your stories are always captivating. I have emailed you with some critique.

    Denise

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I am happy that my story was able to touch others. It is hard to tell if my writing is working and creating a good story. Really glad the earthquake part seemed real. I appreciate your feedback. 🙂

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  2. patgarcia

    A well-told story of a young immigrant family and their overcoming after an earthquake destroyed their city. I love the prophecy given to Norah about her newborn baby daughter and how you brought out Norah’s unbelief. You bridged it together excellently with Rachel talking to Jack.
    Excellent story.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

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  3. Diane Burton

    Great story. You made me feel Norah’s missing her family, regretting that she & her husband had moved yet realistic about why they had to. Much pathos to this story. The earthquake was well integrated into the story. The aftermath made their decision to leave the old country especially poignant. Had they stayed… Then, there’s the last line. Spooky.

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  4. Olga Godim

    Your story is so very warm. It touched me deeply. I loved it that things ended up OK for the family. Even though their daughter seems to start seeing ghosts, as that old woman predicted, the story is full of light and hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      Thank you very much, Olga. It touches me that my story touched you. I think the family was hopeful too. Thanks for letting me know it did not seem dark as I did not intend it to be. 🙂

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    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      It must have been horrendous but I have read that the survivors were provided with food and shelter very quickly. It would be a terrible thing to see all the destruction and death. Thank you very much, Pat. 🙂

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  5. JoAnna

    There is a lot to love about this story. You made me feel like I was right there with them, the strength and gratitude of coming through seemingly insurmountable challenges and the tingling of awareness that seeing the dead could sometimes be a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. DG Hudson

    Loved this. The earthquake and the following trauma, then the recovery and the child who can see one of the dead who wasn’t really ready to leave. San Francisco is one of my fave cities. I have memories of trips there. I live on the west coast too, in Canada, so I know what tremors feel like.

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    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      Thank you, DG. I was born in San Francisco and heard about the 1906 quake and fire. And we have had a few quakes since. Recently I read some of the history and there is much to learn about that time. My paternal grand-parents lived through the 1906 earthquake. I have a place in my heart for San Francisco as well.

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  7. Toi Thomas

    I loved that ending. Such a moving story and vivid description of the earthquake. I’ve only experienced one small trimmer in my lifetime, though it was enough to move pictures on the wall. I wonder what lies ahead for this family? Wonderful story.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      Thank you very much, Toi. I am really glad I was able to write a believable description of the earthquake. I am a native Californian, born in San Francisco. I have experienced some quakes but none as bad as this one, thank goodness, and I hope I never will. My paternal grandparents did live through the 1906 earthquake. I wish I could have heard their story but they were gone when I was very little.

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  8. hilarymb

    Hi Deborah – one can’t imagine living as they did … changing countries, setting up home … struggling to improve themselves then all hell letting loose. Interesting story line – and obviously Jack is still around, albeit in spirit … great take and setting of moving on and away from Ireland … very poignant too – cheers Hilary

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  9. Nilanjana Bose

    This is a moving story of an immigrant family and the challenges they face. The earthquake was depicted realistically. I like how you’ve woven the folklore into the flash and also the ending confirming its truth. Well done.

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    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I am glad it all came together in the story. I hope I was able to depict the experience of these people as it was but it is pretty much a historical fiction. Thank you, Shannon.

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    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I am happy the characters were believable. I hoped they would be but I couldn’t tell reading my own writing. I tried to depict what I thought it could be like. I wish I could have a conversation with some of these people who lived through this experience and hear it from them. Thank you, Sally.

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  10. lgkeltner

    This was so good! There was so much heart in this story. I felt for the characters and their struggles, and the ending was perfect! Nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      Thank you, Michelle. It is amazing what these people went through in those early days. I know there are many untold stories buried in the past. I hope I brought one to light at least the way I imagined it to be.

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  11. rolandclarke

    I liked the story and the atmosphere with vivid description. Great ending. Plenty to build on as many characters to develop.

    I had to read it through twice to check aspects of the chronology, probably because of a few verb tenses – like, “They scrimped and saved to buy a house”. I realised on the re-read what you meant, but wondered if the better phrasing wouldn’t have been: “They had scrimped and saved to buy a house” – unless you were referring to the house on Eureka Street.

    In the end, a good read.

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. Deborah Drucker Post author

    Yes, the house of Eureka Street was their first house. In the story, they are living in a flat which is usually a rental in San Francisco. Thank you for reading it through thoroughly. I think I were to be writing for publication in a magazine or book I would have a professional editor. Thank you, Roland.

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      1. Deborah Drucker Post author

        No problem. After I write something and check it a few times, I get sick of looking at it. I probably miss errors that way for sure. I think I need to write something a bit longer, challenge myself, and see where it goes as well. A fresh pair of eyes helps but then you have to decide if you agree with what they tell you. Thanks, Roland.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Rebecca Douglass

    That’s a moving story, with an ending that’s just the beginning. I felt like a lot of it was a little too much summary (always a struggle with flash fiction, as we try to set the scene without spending the whole time on backstory!), but you had some great details in there, too. I hope your ghosts are nicer than the ones I wrote!

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  14. Deborah Drucker Post author

    I do tend to write in the third person a lot and was setting the scene and emotional tone with how they became immigrants and what they felt about it, especially Norah. I think the ghosts will be benign. Thank you, Rebecca.

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