Ann and Anna, (serial short story, Part 12): Gifts

      …  Parts 11 (Punishment), 10 (Warmth)9 (Found)8 (Lost), 7 (Rock), 6 (Believe), 5 (Naming), 4 (Home), 3 (Trust), 2 (Hope), and 1 (Nightmares) have posted on previous Sundays…

     She handed us our plates, patting my hand in a motherly fashion as she guided the trembling hand holding my plate into my lap.  Our cutlery was bundled in white linen napkins, not monogrammed, I was surprised to see.  She held up a perfectly soft hand, as I made to thank her for her kindness.  She must have had some household help, but they were nowhere to be seen, or heard, rather.

“You must save your strength, young Willow, and recover.  You are safe here.”

     She had a very mild Northern accent, from which state, I could not tell.  It seemed she had lived here long enough to learn to hide her true origin, or to forget, as I had.  As she turned to go, I sent a look to Anna, wondering if she would catch my meaning.  She did.

 

“Mrs. H.  Will you stay, if you please?”

     The doctor’s wife turned back toward us, looking at me for just a moment, before nodding graciously.

 

“I shall have to go downstairs to bring up my own breakfast, but yes, I will stay with you awhile, if you both like.”

     I tried to give her an appreciative smile, as I took in the shock.  She acknowledged me with another nod, before turning to go back down to the kitchens, leaving the door open, this time.  There must indeed have been no servants about, this day.  I hoped we were not too much of a burden on this kind woman.  She was evidently not accustomed to rough work, and with no burns or callouses, not even to cooking, I imagined.  What trouble must we be for these good people, and danger of a much worse fate, if caught helping us, to boot.  The very idea that she would eat with us was as foreign to me as being served by her.  And yet, here, it seemed, this wonder was about to come to pass.

 

     A light tread upon the stairs announced the return of Mrs. H., the same tray now carrying her plate and cutlery, wrapped in the same sort of napkin as ours had been.  But her plate was lacking something.     She had no bacon.

 

“Oh!”   

     A thought had startled me so, that I had failed to hide my chagrin.  As both Anna and  the doctor’s wife looked at me expecting some malady, I blushed to the very tips of my toes, my face burning with shame.

 

“I’m so terribly sorry, M-”

 

     Again, she held up her hand, sharply, this time.  I knew, I was to save my strength, and I also felt that she must have some similar horror of what I might have been about to call her.  Being raised up North, as I supposed she’d been, our ways of addressing one another must have been a cause of consternation for her.  For me, however, there was a greater cause, still.  This woman, it seemed, had sacrificed her own meal for us.  There was a slice of bacon each, upon our plates, yet only grits and an egg upon hers.  I felt that, for the first time, I must have taken the food out of another woman’s mouth.  It was a thought that turned my stomach.  Bad enough that the poor animal who provided us with this food must be sacrificed for our needs.

 

“What’s the matter, Honey?”  

     Anna was right at my side, her hand against my face as if to check my temperature.  I looked down at my plate, toward the bacon, and she again seemed to understand in an instant.  How did she do that?

 

“If you don’t think that this bacon will sit well in your stomach, I might have to say the same for myself.  Mrs. H., we’ve not been used to eating such rich fare, neither of us.  We may both do well to forgo this kindness, much as we appreciate it, Ma’am.”

 

     I saw a steady look pass between them, one I had never imagined could pass between a negress and a white woman.  The doctor’s wife nodded once again.  Then she leaned over from the chair where she had sat while Anna came to me, taking the slice from my plate, and adding it to hers.  To Anna, though, she looked, almost sternly:

 

“Now Anna, sorry, Joe.  You are a driver, and need more meat to keep up your strength, especially in this cold.  You should try to eat this bacon, and let me know how you feel, then, alright?”

 

     I had the feeling that this woman would be quite at home giving lessons to unruly school boys.  Anna actually lowered her head a bit, as if abashed.

 

“Yes-”

 

“And no more of this Ma’am business, if you please, young Joe.”

 

     Then she smiled, and sat back in her chair, taking up her fork and stirring the melted butter into her grits before nodding encouragingly at each of us, in an invitation to join her in the meal.  

     I was surprised again, having half expected to say grace before eating, but decided that it might be impolite to do so.  Instead, I picked up my fork and edged it into my own grits.  They were a bit chewy, but not bad for northern cooking.  As the other women ate their bacon, I relaxed, enjoying my grits as if for the first time in my life.  No longer was the lack of bacon a torment.  Now, it was a gift.  I’d been able, for once, to treat another person to a luxury, and it felt as if, in that moment, the world was indeed a better place to live.

 

      At least for a while.

 

       This is the continuation scene in my new historical fiction series  Ann&Anna.  I  hope that this series will move you to learn more ways to help use our history to build new tools.

  Part 11 was last Sunday, and Part 13 will be next Sunday.

   I look forward to your thoughts, Thoughtful Readers, and especially to your thoughts on this part, Cousin M.! 

   Thank you all for reading and following my work.

Shira

Action Prompts:

1.) Share your thoughts on how this story may encourage empathy-building cooperation, and might help, or hinder, inclusive thinking.

2.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses those thoughts.

Dear Readers, ideas on learning, especially multiple #LanguageLearning, on-going education and empathy-building, to #EndPoverty, #EndHomelessness,  #EndMoneyBail & achieve freedom for All HumanKind? 

Support our key #PublicDomainInfrastructure  & #StopSmoking at least for CCOVID-19:
1. #PublicLibraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare, and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write

-we can learn from the past Stayed on Freedom’s Call for free,

        by Teaching and Learning (Lesson Plans offline) in the present, to

                     We can  Do Better: to create a kinder future

 

Peace    

Shira Destinie A. Jones, MPhil, MAT, BSCS

the year, 2021 CE = year 12021 HE

( 5 month GED lesson 21 of 67 plans…),

       and Ranger M.’s Babylon 5 review posts, because story inspires learning, and historical stories inspire tool-building, right?  “Of course right!”

Stayed on Freedom’s Call
(free: https://archive.org/details/StayedOnF…)
includes two ‘imagination-rich’ walking tours, with songs, of Washington, DC. New interviews and research are woven into stories of old struggles shared by both the Jewish and African-American communities in the capital city.

Shared histories are explored from a new perspective of cultural parallels and parallel institution-building which brought the two communities together culturally and historically.

Please leave a review, if you can, on the GoodReads page.

Shira 

Creative Commons License
Shira Destinie Jones’ work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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33 thoughts on “Ann and Anna, (serial short story, Part 12): Gifts

    1. Coolness, thank you, Quips! Even I didn’t know that this part had so many lessons!
      🙂

      I just loved basking in her feeling of having given something to a person who seemed to have everything, that joy of finally being able to give a gift.

      I’m so glad you found even more in this part!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Shira, I have sometimes found that comments from readers offer insights into something I’ve written that I never thought. It makes up for possible trolls and other folks who never heard Bambi’s mother saying, “That if you don’t have something nice to say, then say nothing.”

        Liked by 1 person

        1. 🙂

          Nice!

          (I thought that was an old Southern saying! Now, I know better! LoL!!)

          But I do also appreciate constructive feedback, even if it seems to go hard on the story. I need to grow as a writer, and while Trolls are not helpful, I agree, I think that sometimes friends fear to offer what they may see as harsh criticism, when in fact it is a needed brushing point. For instance, some years ago, in my first draft of Hubris and Hemlock, Petru pointed out that he couldn’t get into my opening scene because it lacked descriptive visuals, and that helped me remember that “the reader is not in your head,” and that those sensorial details are crucial. Now I work to remember that in every scene, and my writing has improved for his feedback.

          But, or and, I also really love the fact that you are loving this series! And the teacher in me is absolutely delighted to find this chapter to be a ‘teaching’ chapter, even, or especially, when not by design!
          🙂
          This is so cool!!
          🙂

          Enjoy this part, because it gets more difficult from here…

          Liked by 1 person

            1. What, the getting more difficult?

              Hmmm, for both, actually.

              I hate to have to do it, but I’ve been ‘seeing’ something happening later that I know must happen, just as the bacon was something that I couldn’t avoid putting into the story, much as I would have preferred to leave it out, for my vegan friends, but that would not have been authentic to the history and the place, and also very needed characterization could only happen that way. Unfortunately, some harsh things are about to happen that have to happen, shortly.

              Yes, difficult for me as the writer, and as a reader, to see such sadness upon which our world is built. But, the optimist in me says, insists, that this story must be told in all of its horrific magnitude, because it was women like Willow and Anna Marie Weems who led the way to a brighter future, and remind us that we can overcome the obstacles which currently face us.

              And using the same base-line tools: empathy, cooperation, “et parfois, une bonne dose de courage” as Omar Sy’s Assàne Diope, in Lupin, says (courage!).

              Sometimes, it take more courage to write than I’d ever imagined. Thank you, Quips, for helping me get there, too.

              Shira (to my friends)

              Liked by 2 people

  1. I still think, more than ever, our Ann is a Lady, inborn, a quality she had on entering the world. It has nothing to do with the status, or the finances of the family she was born into. In fact, all three women at that breakfast had that quality. A state of grace was achieved, effortlessly., across class and race. Congrats!

    What I wonder is, at ch 10 already, the gap between being found concussed in the woods, to a comfy bed at a pre-arranged safe haven?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Why thank you kindly, good Sir.

      Our Willow, as her friends call her, tries her best. I’m still not sure that anything, good or bad, is inborn, as we all must work to bring out the qualities we demonstrate, just the bad ones are easier to show, in this world.

      Ah, Anna and Dr. H. finding Willow after her fall? Willow wants to know, too! And she misses that amazing Old Mary!
      🙂

      I’ll slip some of that backstory in as they get to their next station. I couldn’t really get it in while she was injured, as she’s got to rest, and they need to focus on rearranging the escape plans.

      Remember those prices on their heads…

      Liked by 1 person

        1. LOL!!
          🙂
          Well, that would explain the tiredness! Willow has endured alot, but she is curious, and that may be her greatest anchor to this world. That, and Anna.

          Oh, and Petru, “I love you, Man!” You’re the best, dude.

          Stay safe over there, sending you safe air hugs from San Diego (where it is chilly, but my lentils are ready to eat…)

          🙂

          Shira

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Wait, what!!! You’re a woman??!!!
              And all this time, I thought you were a guy! Oops, sorry!
              (And now, I really do love you, lady!)
              Wow, in a house over there all by yourself?
              Yeaoooww. Now I get it. I’m sorry if I ever came off as harsh toward you. I had a completely wrong perspective. My apologies!
              I’m an idiot!

              Like

            2. Laughing my head off! I realised your perception only today. It’s a reasonable mistake. My name is usually that of a male, the female version often spelled as Petra I think. And indeed, I was named after my maternal grandfather. My mother wanted to honour her father. I never knew him, as he died before I was born, but what she told of him, I’m honoured to carry his name.

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Exactly what I was assuming, that it was the male version of Petra!
              Interesting, about your grandfather. Have you ever written about him, in any form? I’d love a link to it, if you have.
              Ok, I’m starving, lentils have been waiting and getting cold for two hours now, so I must eat!
              Love you!
              Be back shortly, My Dear Lady!
              S.

              Liked by 1 person

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