Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Lenape Antique Vase #AtozChallenge #WEP #WEPFF #FlashFiction

#AtoZChallenge 2020 badge THE WINNER OF APRIL'S 2020 CHALLENGE @JLenniDorner


My theme this year is blogging about my author brand. Tuesdays' posts are on Speculative Fiction.
Today is extra special because it's also my post for the WEP April 2020 Challenge. writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com

*#AtoZChallenge 2020 Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter L*


Lenape Antique Vase

I arrange the freshly cut lilacs in the vase. She doesn't know what she has here. She has no idea how offensive it is to use this a vase for flowers.

She wouldn't care even if she did know.

"Boy! You get in here and clean this mess now."

I'm older than she is. We both know she calls me "boy" as a sign of disrespect. It's likely also why she uses a ceremonial vessel to hold flowers. I get my rag and head to the living room. She's defecated on the floor again.

"Dogs got in. Gonna have Colonel Jenkins take 'em outback for a whooping. You clean this mess now."

Colonel Jenkins, her father, has been outback with the dogs for ten years. I don't know why they bury their people and animals side by side. When I die, they'll toss me to the wolves. Perhaps the trash pit. Maybe a fire, if it's summer and my corpse has an especially foul stench.

There will be no water from my home-stream collected in the clay jar. No blessing asked for by an elder. Those nearest to me will not gather around, each dipping their hands into the water while whispering a memory of me. Nor will that water be used to wash me one final time. My bones will not go into the ground alongside my ancestors.

For I am far from home. My elders were slaughtered. My parents died of sickness, my siblings died before the auction. I am here, alone, cleaning the feces of a delusional old woman from a family of wealth and power.

I am the savage. She is the civilized one. She who blames dead dogs for her daily indoor defecations. I am the beast she beats every night after dinner. She who demands I fill a sacred object with cut flowers. They are dead as soon as they are cut. Flowers wilt faster than I, for this I envy them.

"Boy! Make tea now. Colonel Jenkins will be home."

If I were to leave, I would be like Colonel Jenkins: dead. So I make tea for two. As I do every night. She will refuse to drink it until he comes home. Then I will give her dinner. After which she'll find the teapot. "How dare you serve this cold." She'll beat me until she falls asleep.

Tomorrow we will do it all again. And I will, as always, think about breaking the vase of my Lenape ancestors. Better to turn this to specs of clay than have it misused for one more day. Except I was purchased for a lower cost.



440 words MPA

This is speculative fiction in that it's fiction, it's historical, and the description of the funeral use of the vase is a myth.
💩 - J Lenni Dorner




#AtoZChallenge 2020 badge

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#atozchallenge 2020 @JLenniDorner Blogging my Author Brand


Want another story of tribal lore? Lumber Of The Kuweakunks on Smashwords

28 comments:

  1. Hi J Lenni, great to see you have a new website. This story has so much in it, but the historical 'Boy!' grates the most in this case spoken by a despicable harridan. One way to keep the servant in place. The final paragraph give much food for thought.

    Thanks for taking time when you're so busy with the A-Z to post for WEP. Much appreciated.

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    1. My great-great-great grandfather was a Lenape slave, and my great-great grandfather was born from a similar story to this one (just replace the word beating). So I thought about them, about their stories that were passed on to me, when I wrote this.

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  2. Powerful and heartbreaking.
    And I ache wondering just how many peoples the world over have felt similar pain. And cringe suspecting that some still do.

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  3. Hell on earth for sure. You were much gentler with the ending. I would not have been. :)
    Thank you for participating.

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  4. Hi J Lenni - so heartbreaking and I feel your pain for your ancestors and those who followed. Excellent remembrance story-telling. Take care and all the best - Hilary

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  5. So sad! Slavery is the worst institution humans have ever come up with. When a man could cost less than a vase - it must be a terrible world.

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  6. So heartbreaking. So hard to believe people treated each other like this. Horrid.
    Very nice tie-in with the vase and funeral rites

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  7. Stunning story. Each line in narration shivered my bones. The end is very startling. Thanks for the story. Sanhita.

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  8. You packed a powerful story into those 440 words! Only thing I wanted to comment on--I think I'd say "out back" with the dogs, in two words. Seeing the single word sent me to Australia...

    You really captured the pain here, starting with that word "boy"--if we know our history, that one word says so much.

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  9. A hearth-wrenching story that introduced me to a specific topic I knew nothing about. Any story that expands one's awareness and dispels ignorance is a treasure. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. This may be a work of speculative fiction, but it's sadly honest and true. Thank you for sharing it.

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  11. Hi,
    The word boy sent me back to slavery in the Deep South and the pot reminded me of the pots in the master's houses that were used by the slave owners to dispose of their own waste. Your story shows the bitter reality of how some vases were used and in my opinion the double meaning of disrespect for those who had to empty them.
    Your story is very thought provoking. Good jobl
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

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  12. This is such a heartbreaking situation, and I feel terribly for him. This may be fictional, but far too many people have been taken and sold to a life of misery. You captured our narrator's voice wonderfully!

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  13. The horrors of slavery and the dehumanization of people deemed inferior are powerfully captured in this piece. 30 years ago, I worked as an aide in a long term care home. One of the residents was a woman whose grandparents had owned slaves. She treated the staff like slaves. One day I heard her saying to her son, who was a minister, that it was all right to have slaves because God had created certain races of people as inferior purposefully to serve the superior races. Her son responded that she must believe in a different God than he, because the God he believed in would not create people to be slaves. I was pleased that the son had managed to escape his mother's prejudiced outlook. All of the staff hated going to assist her and took turns so no-one would be stuck with her all day or night.

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  14. The dehumanization of one person by another always makes for a compelling and empathetic tale. But you've added another dimension in this short take on April's prompt. Denigrate the person, but defile in any way their cultural heritage and you rob them of their value system. I think this kind of robbery is even more damaging than physical mistreatment. Culture goes so deep, so far beneath the skin. Well done.

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  15. The clash of cultures and values works from the first few lines, Lenni. How many so-called 'vases' were intended for ceremonial purposes? Anyway, I like the 'voice' of the narrator.Sad - tragic as the fate of his people.That last phrase triggered my tears. Fiction to make us think about how we behave.

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    1. I echo my comments and add my congratulations on your well-deserved win, J Lenni. I look forward to your guest post at WEP. Stay safe, sensible, and inspired.

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  16. Very original. Thank you J.Lenni for this sweet story. Have an inspiring spring take care.

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  17. What a powerful and heartbreaking tale. I like how you juxtaposed the jarringly different people and cultures. The short, clipped sentences you used, for example "I am the savage. She is the civilized one", conveyed the speaker's frustration really well. My favourite line is "Flowers wilt faster than I, for this I envy them." Wonderful piece.

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  18. Excellent job at conveying so much in such few words. This was heart-breaking and, as so many others noted, I felt my hackles rise and my stomach clench at the term 'boy'.

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  19. A powerful and well crafted tale, that makes excellent use of brevity. Well done.

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  20. What a beautiful and powerful piece. Marvelously done!

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  21. I did wonder why he stayed and then you explained that in the last paragraph. Powerful writing - thank goodness that side of our past is now over (mostly).

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  22. Congratulations on your WEP win. Huge congratulations.

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  23. Hi J Lenni - many congratulations on an emotive piece ... Hilary

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  24. Congratulations! Well deserved.

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  25. Powerful and heartbreaking, but also a stunning description of dispossession and displacement. Congratulations on the award. Well deserved.

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