99 word Flash
Amelia left the two women who stared after her.
“Amelia’s in the family way again.”
“Every time that ne’er-do-well husband comes home she has another bairn.”
“Lucky his ship don’t come in too oft. Threes enough on yer own..”
One hundred and ten years later Amelia’s great-grandchildren scoured through Ancestory.com. Little was known of their great-grandfather apart from his birth date in Boston, Massachusetts. The last time the family saw him was 1904.
“I’ve found something.” We poured over the 1910 marriage certificate – to another woman. Not only new aunts, uncles and cousins but a skeleton in the closet. Great-Grand Dad was a bigamist.
This piece was in response to Charlie’s prompt for June 25, 2014: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that considers history, near or far. Is it a historic account? A character’s reflection upon finding her grandmother’s hidden love poems? A modern family contemplating the ruins of an old structure? An archaeological dig? A classroom discussion of the History Channel? Dig into the past and record what you find. Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, July 1 to be included in the compilation.
This immediately had me thinking of my Great- Grandma Amelia. She is
a woman who has always fascinated me from when I was a little girl. The
fact that she had a wooden leg conjured up all sorts of possibilities. She might have been a pirate as at least one pirate on each ship had a wooden leg. I developed all sorts of stories around this leg and the one that stuck was losing it in WWI when she went to the front as a nurse and became injured. She was so heroic that Edward Prince of Wales stopped to be introduced to her on his Royal Tour by train in 1920 when it stopped at the small town of Tiaro in North Queensland.
Of course none of this was true. She lost her leg to gangrene after an injury and was busy raising three children by herself as her husband rarely was in the vicinity and he wasn’t seen again after 1904. Instead her introduction to the Prince of Wales was as the head of the Red Cross in the small town and not because she had been heroic.
It was exciting to learn more about this stern looking woman and when we discovered my Great-grand dad’s other life I wondered what this tough pioneer woman would have thought. My Mother told me that she was glad my grandma was no longer with us to hear about her father and that she would have been shocked and mortified. She would have hung her head in shame. I think my Mum felt that way as well. I was excited. We suddenly had so many more aunts and uncles and cousins and I have yet to discover whether they want to be found.
Did Amelia know that her husband was never going to come back? Did she know that he had another wife? Did she wait, hoping that the man she loved would one day walk through the door and as each day passed her face set more and more to stone? Sadly, I’ll never know the answers to these questions but I do hope that her life was happy.