1909
Francine Witte
Flash Fiction Winner


and so much more to come. Millions will be born and die. Only yesterday, it seems, the Wright Brothers eagled into the sky. Now, the Great War sleeps, waiting to be woken up, and look right there at that tiny dot on Ellis Island. Almost hidden in the long, long lines is my grandfather, a patched valise in his left hand, my grandmother in his right.

His eyes are fixed on the man at the table up ahead, while hers wander to a nearby tree. For a moment, there is no stone city waiting , no skyscraper bars of the penal colony, no fifth floor walkup, peeling paint and pipes to clang her awake. Only the tree with its quiet square of soil. She looks and looks, her mouth about to open. This is who I was, she wants to scream, farm girl, poor but happy. Why I have to love a man with dreams?

And then, the tug at her arm, my grandfather pulling like he would at a horse's rein. She faces forward, obedient wife, the tree still visible from the corner of her eye.



First published: February, 2004
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