It’s not quite business as usual at Carrot Ranch this week. Yes, there’s a prompt to write 99 words, no more, no less. Yes, we are to go where the prompt leads. The change with the July 4, 2019, prompt? The challenge is to “write a story using your choice of microhistory from Keweenaw National Historic Park. Be historical, funny, or flagrantly fictional. Choose a character, time, place, or event. Be as creative as you want in telling the story (for those doing serials, how can you meld this into your own storyline?). Go where the prompt leads!”
I have written two flash fiction pieces based on the micro histories of Ellen Dickens and Anselm Studer. These were real people with their own stories. What I have presented is fiction, unresearched and unauthenticated, just imagined stories inspired by the brief biographical information provided by the Keweenaw National Historic Park.
Mama was Lewis’ wet nurse. We called him Lil’ Dickens, me and Mama, and his granddad did too, ‘cause he was always gettin’ into mischief.
His granddad, Old Mr. Dickens, he trusted me, put me in charge of keepin’ Lil’ Dickens out of trouble. Showed us both where to fish. It wasn’t so bad then.
Lil’ Dicken’s own daddy, couldn’t no one stay out of trouble with him. No one.
After Old Mr. Dickens passed I ran. Caught up with Lil’ Dickens, who’d run first. Lewis took me in like his sister. His own children call me Auntie Ellen.
When I was in New York I felt like I was still aboard ship on the churning sea. The buildings there towered tall but they were hollow rustling hives.
I came to the Keweenaw. Here there are no towering buildings. There are no great mountains like my homeland, but this place- these people possess the indomitable strength of the Alps. The miners call it sisu. I think of this Finnish word that defines my America as I build foundations for the new buildings.
This is something I know: the tallest mountains, the strongest communities, are built on solid foundations.