“Listen” — Advent Ghosts 2020

The historical society sells a gilded ornament each year. This, of John, of Jack, shows his eyes downcast. His widow chose the image for the portrait, after enduring faithlessness, blood, and grief. Her black veil burns with heat, not chill.

What is preservation if not a gathering of lost souls, their dreams, their crimes, all that they believed was buried with them? What is this present, masquerading as the past, rousing spirits and preparing the way for all who are damaged? New ghosts cling to the old white house, rewriting its fate and haunting the future.

They will be heard.

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Advent Ghosts 100 Word Storytelling is put on by Loren Eaton at I Saw Lightning FallYou can read this year’s entries there. Visit back here throughout the day for a growing crop of spooky stories from a range of writers! Loren posts them all day today, the darkest day of the year.

This is an exactly 100-word flash fiction piece for a tradition of writing ghost stories on Christmas Eve. We acknowledge a sinful and hopeless world, and welcome the dawn in full awareness that Christmas day brings us light.

Search tag “Advent Ghosts” to read all of my 100-word stories for this project over the years.

Polish Resistance, Regardless

Like so many people with long roots in West Virginia, I have the lovemaking, hard stepping, fight starting, large drinking, genetic and cultural legacy of Ireland and Scotland in me.

It doesn’t matter much that we never owned that or planned events around it when I was young; I know now that ignoring the woven threads of how you were put together does little to nothing to change the cloth.

I suppose the Scotch-Irish piece is, however complex, the “fun” part. It’s Braveheart and bagpipes and line dancing and shamrocks and large families.

The Polish piece, the Eastern European thread, that’s the ever-surprising outlier in my garment.

My friends are asking one another about their “plan for self-care” during this election season and the inevitable point where as a nation we all try to move on, regardless of the outcome.

Regardless of the outcome.

I’ve realized I’ve talked about my Polish side as Stoicism, but that’s not what it is. Stoicism is “indifference to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.”

That’s not really what’s going on with my Polish side.

It’s not indifference. It’s the technique for managing pain.

So what is my plan? It’s too late to become truly Stoic. My plan is to lean into being truly Polish.

And at first I thought that meant storing potatoes and ignoring my feelings. But then I remembered……

“Whenever Poland fell to foreign powers, Poles would rebel over and over again. Admittedly, most of our uprisings turned out to be crushing defeats, but that didn’t break our spirit ‒ we would simply prepare for the next rebellion. In the end, here we are, free and prosperous.”

That’s my plan.

Prepare for the next rebellion.