It stood there, a monochrome structure, unusual in appearance as tourists and curiosity seekers descended upon its immaculate grounds like a swarm of locusts. They came every year to see if it would cave in. The owners of the property were determined that it never would. As long as it remained standing, the money would keep coming in. They made sure it was properly maintained and repaired.
They didn’t, however, imagine that their cash cow would one day go up in flames. It turned out that the caretaker set the house on fire in an attempt to cover up the accidental death of his girlfriend. Following a heated argument in his office, he struck her in a fit of rage and she fell, hitting her head against the concrete wall.
Panicking, he grabbed a can of kerosene and doused the place, set the flammable liquid on fire and then fled. Riddled with guilt and remorse, he turned himself in a couple of days later. He is serving time in jail for assault, involuntary manslaughter, destroying and concealing evidence and arson.
Tourists still flock to see the burnt remains of the house. Donations are flooding in for its rebuilding. The owners are raking in more money now than before. They are hoping to have the new structure finished by the year 2021.
I stood there in the secluded spot and tranquil place where we used to meet. It was our secret place where we could love each other freely. Back there it was against the law for a white man and a black woman to have relations. Race mixing as they called it was banned. The punishment for interracial marriage to be a year in jail and the white person was fined $100 fine. The person who officiated an interracial wedding was fined $200. How I hated those laws. They were passed by ignorant and racist people who couldn’t accept that people of different races could fall in love with each other.
My parents were just as intolerant. They believed that people should stick to their own kind–you know, to keep the races pure. They even used the Bible to validate their racist views. I read the Bible myself and nowhere did it prohibit interracial love. In fact, there were examples of mixed marriages. I hated going to a school where blacks weren’t allowed and even church which was to be the temple of the God who created all races, blacks weren’t allowed to worship with us. I hated living in a state that was so intolerant. I promised myself that I would leave it as soon as I was old enough.
My parents made sure that I went to the best schools and associated only with those whom they deemed to be socially acceptable–the filthy rich. They even had it in their heads that one day I would marry Governor Brown’s daughter, Virginia (I can’t believe her parents named her after the state). Granted, she was a nice girl, very pretty and I could tell that she liked me very much. We went on dates and such and then, I went away to university. It was an understanding that we were going steady and that in due time, I would propose.
When I returned from university one summer vacation, my mother told me that we had a new maid, Flora. The previous one, Berta had been fired. My parents never told me what happened but I was sore because I really liked Berta. Well, when I met Flora, I quickly forgot about Berta. She was much younger than Berta but about ten years older than me. Flora wasn’t pretty like Virginia but she was very attractive. She had big brown eyes that didn’t seem to miss a thing, smooth dark skin and a lovely voice. Sometimes she would sing as she worked.
Once I asked her why didn’t she become a professional singer. She scoffed and said, “The only thing white folks want colored people like me to do is cook, clean, do the laundry and keep my place.”
Flora had a room built at the back of the house where she would change into her uniform and use the bathroom. She had special plates and forks to use for her meals. She was paid $10 a week which in that time was considered good money.
Flora was a bit cynical and who could blame her? Although she is well paid, she is treated with disrespect and condescension by my parents, relatives and family friends. There are times when I sit at the dining table and seethe with rage. The final straw came when Flora accidentally spilled a glass of wine and some of it got on Mrs. Miller, an insufferable and vain woman. She rose to her feet and struck Flora hard across the face. “You clumsy n—–,” she cried. “You’ve ruined my dress. It’s too bad you can’t be whipped for this.”
My mother didn’t bat an eye. I couldn’t believe that she wasn’t livid that one of her guests had slapped Flora. I guess I was foolish to expect her to say something in Flora’s defense. Instead, she said to her crossly, “Clean that mess up.”
Flora quickly left the room and was back in a seconds to clean the spill. I wanted to go after her but propriety made me stay put. I promised myself that I would speak to her before she left this evening.”
“You should fire her, Rosemary,” Mrs. Miller said as she resumed her seat.
“It was an accident!” I said as calmly as I could although, what I really wanted to do was throw the rest of the wine in her sanctimonious face.
“You mind your manners, Boy,” my father scolded.
“You’re excused,” was my mother’s rejoinder.
“Excuse me,” I said as I rose to my feet. I was happy to leave the table.
I headed straight for the kitchen where Flora was busy washing up the dishes. I wanted to help but I knew that she wouldn’t let me. Besides, it would get her into trouble. I went and stood beside her. I could see that she had been crying. I wanted to hug her. “I’m sorry about what happened just now, Flora,” I said quietly. “Mrs. Miller had no right to hit you. You’re a grown woman, not a child.”
“You heard what she called me. That gives her the right to hit me.”
“Flora, sometimes, I wish I could take you away from all of this.”
“You shouldn’t be saying such things, Master Oliver.”
“But, it’s true, Flora.”
“And where would we go?”
“I don’t know yet but some place where you’re treated better.”
“Right now I can’t think of any place like that except Heaven.”
“Flora, after I graduate from university, I’m going to leave Richmond. I want you to come with me.”
“Master Oliver, stop talking foolish.”
“Stop calling me Master Oliver,” I retorted. “I’m just plain Oliver and I’m not talking foolish. I’m very serious, Flora.”
“I’ll think about it now, go before your mother comes in here and finds us together.”
“All right. I’ll go. Goodnight, Flora.”
The next morning, she was gone. My mother had taken Mrs. Miller advice and fired Flora. I was so upset that I didn’t speak to my mother for weeks. I found out where Flora lived and the first opportunity, I had, I went to see her. She was alone. After I letting her know how upset and furious I was that she had lost her job, I made her promise to meet me that afternoon at the pond where no one ever goes.
I got there first and waited. As I waited, I picked a bunch of wildflowers I saw there. Flora would like them. I bet she never got flowers from anyone before. I would be the first. I smiled at the thought. She showed up five minutes later. I gave her the flowers and she took them, smiling. She smelled them. “Thank you,” she said. She reached up and kissed me on the cheek.
I felt my face get hot. I also felt strange sensations in my body. “You’re welcome, Flora,” I said.
We sat down on the grass and talked and talked. I loved being with her and I could tell she felt the same way. We promised to meet there again tomorrow. She left first and then I left several minutes after. When I went home, my mother told me that Virginia and her parents were having dinner with us that evening. It would be the first time I would be seeing Virginia since I’ve been home for the summer. I was more excited about seeing Flora tomorrow than seeing Virginia that evening.
The evening went well, I suppose. Virginia didn’t seem to notice that I was preoccupied with my thoughts. She talked mostly about herself and what she had been up to while I was away at university. I didn’t make any plans to see her again. After we parted company, I went up to my room where I remained until the following morning. As soon as the afternoon came, I was racing down to the pond. This time Flora was waiting for me. And she brought two huge slices of an apple pie she had baked. After we ate them, we went for a swim.
Afterwards, we lay in the sun. We talked about different things and then, I rolled onto my side and looked down at her. She had her eyes closed. The strange sensations stir inside me again and this time, I lowered my head and kissed her. She didn’t push me away or slap me in the face. Instead, she reached up and put her arms around my neck. We ended up making love for the first time.
Day after day we met there in our secluded spot until one day we were discovered by Virginia’s brother and his friends. I was promptly sent back to Atlanta where I spent the rest of the summer until it was time to return to university. I don’t know what happened to Flora. No one would tell me anything. I was devastated because I was madly in love with her. I wanted to marry her.
When I returned to Virginia, I went to her house. At that point I didn’t care what people said or did or thought. All I wanted was to see Flora. However, when I went to her house, the neighbors said that she was gone. They had no idea where she had gone.
Dejected, I returned to Atlanta where I tried to forget about her. I even got married to a nice girl named Amy and we had a boy. Time passed but the memories of my summer with Flora never faded. I still yearned to see her. I still loved her and no amount of time would make me forget about her.
After Amy died, I tried to see if I could find out any information about Flora. I wish I had a photo of her that I could have put on Facebook but I didn’t. In spite of these setbacks and disappointments, I haven’t stopped hoping that one day I will see her again.
It’s 2018 and summer again here in Richmond. I’m here by the pond, allowing myself to relive the happiest memories of my entire life. I look at the wild flowers and smile. I will never forget the spark in Flora’s beautiful eyes when I gave them to her. If she were here now, I would give her another bunch.
“Mr. Jones?” a voice called out and startled, I turned.
It was a young African American girl. “Yes,” I replied. “I’m Mr. Jones. Who are you?”
She came closer. “I’m Regina. I was told that I might find you here. Someone asked me to give this to you.” She held out a letter sized brown envelope.”
I took it. It didn’t have any address. It only had my name written neatly at the front. “Who asked you to give this to me?”
“My grandmother, Flora.”
My heart caught in my throat. Flora. I sat down on the tuft of grass and eagerly opened the envelope. I pulled out a letter and some photos. I looked at the photos first. They were of Flora and a lovely little girl. She looked so much like Flora but much fairer in complexion.
With trembling fingers, I unfolded the letter and read it. Halfway through, I started to cry. Flora was pregnant when she left Richmond. She wanted me to know about Olivia and wrote to me at the university several times but all of her letters were returned. She never got married, she said because there was only one man whose wife she wanted to be.
I looked up at Regina who was standing beside me. “Where’s Flora?” I asked. I longed to see her.
“I’m sorry, grandfather, but she died this morning.”
I broke down at that point. Regina dropped to her knees and put her arms around me. The only thing that gave me any comfort was the knowledge that Flora and I have a daughter and a granddaughter. Our love will live on through them and generations to come.
Those we love are never really lost to us–for everywhere their special love lives on – Amanda Bradley
This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Tranquil at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.
Cai stared at the moon as it hung low over the horizon. Sleep eluded her. Her husband, Huan was in Myanmar investigating the Rohingya massacre. Five days had passed since she last heard from him. She constantly checked her emails and cell for messages but nothing was forthcoming.
A knock on the door jolted her. Heart racing, she answered it. It was Kang, Huan’s brother. “Have you heard from Huan? Is he all right?”
“He’s in jail.”
“Yes. For seven years.”
“I must do something.”
“Ask the Myanmar government for mercy.”
Hours later, she was on Television.
This post was inspired by the true story of two Myanmar journalists who were sentenced to seven years in prison for investigating violence against Rohingyas. Their wives were on television asking for mercy.
This was written for the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. For more details, visit Here. To read stories of 100 words based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.
Every time Grandma and I walked past the abandoned house with the gigantic grass shaped cross, she would tell the sad story of Sarah Ann Johnston. I indulged her. She was getting up there and forgot that she had told me the story many times before. I just listened as she talked about the downfall of the reputed most Christian woman who ever lived in Green Bay County.
“We warned her not marry him,” Grandma said, shaking her head. “but she wouldn’t listen. We told her that she shouldn’t be unequally yoked with a man who didn’t have a religious bone in him but she foolishly believed that she could reform him.
“Everyone in the county except me went to the wedding. I’m no hypocrite. I wasn’t going stand up there and pretend like I approved. Sarah Ann was mad at me, of course, but I had to be true to myself.”
“It wasn’t long before things got bad between them. She caught him red-handed with another woman and shot them dead. Now she’s in jail. Foolish woman, she should have listened.”
Poor Sarah Anne Johnston. Her blind and foolish love led to her ruin.
This was written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here. To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.
She stood at the window. Radio City Music Hall was on her left. Below, people carried on with their lives, oblivious to her plight.
She had left one prison only to end up in another type—without bars but more confining. She was trapped inside the world of sex trafficking. In exchange for being released from prison she was forced to become a sex worker. If she didn’t comply, her bond would be rescinded and she would be thrown back into jail. Prison life for an African American woman would be intolerable.
She had been arrested on prostitution charges, which were false. She had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and when the others were rounded up, she was too. Her protests fell on deaf ears and found herself in a cell, looking through the bars, terrified. She had no one to help her.
When she heard that her bail was posted and that she was going to be released, she was surprised but relieved. And then her nightmare really began…
She turned away from the window and began to undress. The senator lay there watching her, waiting, like all predators with their victims.
This story was inspired by an article on US Sex Trafficking where sex traffickers target incarcerated women, forcing them to become sex workers after posting their bail and having them released from prison. The women had to do what they were told or risk going back to prison. Sex trafficking is a heinous practice that needs to be banned.
This post was written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction. For more details visit Here. To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.
It was a lovely summer day in the park. The heady fragrance of the flowers drifted in the air and she inhaled deeply but nothing seemed to quell the uneasiness she felt. Ashanti was about to end a relationship with a man she never should have gotten involved with but the attraction was so strong and she owed him so much…
A couple strolled by, the man sheltering under an umbrella. Her cell rang. It was him, telling her where to meet him.
Ten minutes later, she was sitting at the back of his car. “I can’t continue seeing you.”
“You’re married with children.”
“You knew that when we got involved. What’s changed?”
“If it weren’t for me, your brother would be in jail.”
“I know and I’m grateful—“
“I don’t want your gratitude. I want you.”
“One phone call from me and your brother gets arrested.”
“Your place tonight?”
“Good. I love you, Ashanti.”
She didn’t answer but after they kissed, she left.
This was written in response to Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. For more information visit Here. To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven – Matthew 5:10
I have been aware of how much the church has been persecuted in different parts of the world through emails from Voice of the Martyrs Canada. I have read many heartbreaking stories but I will share two of them. A Christian woman named Mariam was expelled from her home by her husband who had militant Muslim views because she refused to renounce her faith. At the time Mariam was pregnant and due to give birth soon. She had to be cared for by church members. In 2012 when she became a Christian, her Muslim family provoked an attack, forcing her to live on the streets. Mariam is from the Ivory Coast which has seen an increase in violence since November 2010.
In Pakistan a teen died after being set on fire. He was approached by two men who asked him about his religion. After Nauman told them that he was a Christian, they proceeded to beat him. He tried to run away but they followed him and doused him with kerosene and set him on fire. Unfortunately, his attackers wore masks so there is little hope that they will be caught. And it doesn’t help that the authorities show little interest in further investigation.
I thought that what these people experienced in their countries was bad but Ivory Coast and Pakistan are not even part of Gospel for Asia’s list of the top 10 countries where Christians are persecuted. Life for Christians in these countries is simply horrendous. First up is North Korea.
North Korea is the worst persecutor of Christians in the world. Christians are tortured, imprisoned and murdered. Private, non-state-sanctioned religious activity is prohibited. Anyone discovered engaging in clandestine religious activity is subject to arrest, torture or even public execution – Voice of the Martyrs – North Korea.
Yang was a Christian woman who became a follower of Jesus while she was still living in North Korea. Watch her incredible story of pain and hope.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” – John 16:33
Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam is known for being one of the worst places when it comes to women’s rights and religious freedom. According to VOM Canada, it is one of the most oppressive nations in the world for Christians.
Religious freedom is nonexistent, and leaving Islam is punishable by death. Non-Muslims are not permitted to become citizens of Saudi Arabia, and no places of worship other than mosques are permitted in the country. All non-Muslim religious rituals and materials are banned. Converts from Islam to Christianity are rare, and converts have been executed for the offense. Anyone who performs mission work or converts a Muslim faces jail, expulsion, lashing, torture or execution. Non-Muslim worship, even private worship for foreign Christians, is prohibited, and Saudi religious police have been known to raid homes where expatriate workers were worshiping – Voice of the Martyrs – Saudi Arabia.
In September 2014, a house church in the city of Khafji was raided and 28 people were arrested, including children. Bibles and musical instruments were also seized. The worshippers, mostly expatriate workers from South Asia, were held overnight and released the following day, apart from a leader of the group who was held for another night – Church in Chains.
Can you imagine receiving 200 lashes and two years in prison if you are from Saudi Arabia and 300 lashes and six years in prison if you are from another country? In 2012, two men, one Lebanese and the other Saudi Arabian were charged with brainwashing a Saudi woman into becoming a Christian. These charges were levelled against them by the woman’s family. The woman, known as the “girl of Khobar” is living in Sweden where she has been granted asylum. She wasn’t brainwashed, she chose to become a Christian (Church in Chains). Watch as she and another Saudi share their testimonies.
“Therefore if theSon makes you free, you shall be free indeed” – John 8:36
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan does not recognize any Afghan citizens as being Christians, nor are Afghan citizens legally permitted to convert to Christianity. Although there are no explicit laws that forbid proselytizing, many authorities and most of society view the practice as contrary to the beliefs of Islam. There is only one legally recognized church in Afghanistan and it is located within the diplomatic enclave, and not open to local nationals.Muslims who change their faith to Christianity, are subject to societal and official pressure, which may lead to death penalty. However, there are cases in which a Muslim will adopt the Christian faith, secretly declaring his/her apostasy. In effect, they are practising Christians, but legally Muslims; thus, the statistics of Afghan Christians does not include Muslim apostates to Christianity – Wikipedia
I read that the growing number of Christians in Afghanistan is causing great concern among the Muslim leaders and they are calling on President Hamid Karzai to “limit the number of aid workers and Christian missionaries coming to Afghanistan” to keep Afghanis from converting to Christianity.” Apparently this all started when a TV station in Kabul reported the conversion of several Afghans to Christianity and broadcasted photos of them praying and being baptized. This sparked an outrage and a call to convict believers under the Sharia Law which decrees that anyone who leaves Islam and converts to another religion that person will be executed – Christian Headlines. The Afghan Christians have no church building where they can go because the last one was destroyed two years ago. They are completely underground now and are risking their lives to meet in homes.
This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life – Psalm 119:50
The situation of religious freedom for Christians has seriously deteriorated under the influence of the establishment of the Islamic State in large parts of Iraq. In June 2014, a strict version of Islamic law was implemented in the area the militants of Islamic State hold. Christians were forced to convert, flee or pay a tax for religious minorities. As a result, many Christians fled. Moreover, the broader Iraqi society is turning more Islamic, with increased social control on women wearing a veil and observance of Ramadan. Christians most affected by persecution are converts from Islam. However, in areas held by radical Islamic groups all Christians are under great pressure – Open Doors USA
A family of four was forced to flee Iraq because of militants and a man for questioning the Quran. Read their stories.
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteousrighthand’ – Isaiah 41:10
Last year a Somalian believer was dragged outside of her home and murdered by a group of armed men. Anyone who tried to rescue her was shot at. Her parents witnessed this terrible tragedy. If a Somali was discovered to be a follower of Jesus, that person was going to face certain death not only in Somalia but in neighbouring countries where they are forced to flee as refugees. According to one VOM source, “In Somalia, they kill you if they just find a piece of literature” (VOM USA). My thoughts are with this young woman’s family and I pray that they are leaning on Jesus and trusting Him to strengthen them each day.
And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You – Psalm 9:10
Maldives is one of the least evangelized countries in the world. The 0.2% figure for Christians refers to expatriate Christians. Citizens of the Maldives are automatically Muslim, and non-Muslims may not become citizens. The open practice of any religion other than Islam is forbidden. Maldivian believers are carefully watched. They suffer ostracism, mockery, incarceration and even torture. Christians cannot meet or read the Scriptures openly. Expatriate believers have been expelled, especially after sharing their faith – VOM Canada.
Citizens of the Maldives who convert to Christianity lose their citizenship and risk torture. Expulsions of Christians occurred several times in the last 10 years (Wikipedia).
In his presidential campaign the current President of Maldives, Abdulla Yameen promoted himself as a saviour of Islam. “Think for yourselves, do you want Islam in the Maldives or do you want to allow space for other religions in the Maldives,” he said in an election speech. In his speech on Maldives Conversion to Islam Day, he told the citizens, “We should also be very vigilant of foreign influences attempting to weaken our religious faith” (The Diplomat). Clearly, things for Christian believers in Maldives is not going to change any time soon. Let’s lift them up in our prayers that they will remain strong and steadfast until the Lord returns.
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you – 1 Peter 5:10
It has been said that Mali has always been a dangerous place for Christians. Christians who have fled are afraid to return and those who return find their properties occupied by Muslims. There is no normal church life for Malian Christians in the north and those living in the south feel threatened by the Islamic groups in the north (source: Open Doors). Read about a pastor who escaped a deadly plot in Mali.
For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil” – 1 Peter 3:12
Imagine risking your life to tell others about Jesus in a country where religious freedom is on the decline. Watch this compelling video of a Iranian woman named Padina who was about to commit suicide but God intervened.
“I am thelightofthe world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the lightof life” – John 8:12
Yemeni citizens are not allowed to convert to Christianity (or other religions). Converts from an Islamic background may face the death penalty if their new faith is discovered. Converts from Islam also encounter opposition from extremist groups, who threaten “apostates” with death if they do not revert to Islam. Proselytizing of Muslims is prohibited – VOM Canada
How frustrating it must be to have to hide your new faith or face possible death if it is discovered. Please pray that your Yemeni brothers and sisters will be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:1).
Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD – Psalm 31:24
I received a prisoner update of an Eritrean man named Mussie Eyob who has been in prison since 2011. He was arrested because of his faith and his desire to share the Gospel with others. Mussie became a Christian in 2008. Three years later, while he was living in Saudi Arabia, he went to a mosque where he spoke about Christianity. He was arrested on February 12, 2011. It is a capital offence to proselyte in Saudi Arabia. Praise God, He intervened through the appeals from various human rights groups and individuals. Mussie was deported to Eritrea. You can read his story here and see how you can reach out to him and his family.
It is ironic that as the people of Eritrea celebrated 24 years of independence in March 2015, religious freedom for Christians is still a concern. According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the greatest shortcomings in religious freedom are felt by minority groups such as evangelical Christians. So once again, in 2015, USCIRF holds to its position that Eritrea is to be designated as a “country of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act.
In the wake of their independence, Eritrean Christians had to flee to Ethiopia to escape their hardships where they continue to boldly share their faith. “They are actually seeing many from (various) religious backgrounds — Muslim and Orthodox — enter into a personal relationship with Jesus” says Greg Musselman, a spokesman for The Voice of the Martyrs Canada.
“Today, you’ve got anywhere between 3,000 to 4,000 Christians there who are imprisoned in shipping containers or military camps because of their faith.” Can you imagine dealing with torture, acts of cruelty, random arrests and detention without charges? Musselman believes that these practices are as a result of the government’s belief that evangelical Christianity is “western” and is linked with the CIA (ERITREA: Refugees Boldly Testify of Christian Faith; Source: Mission Network News).
It is encouraging to know that despite the ban on their religious activities, the imprisonments and persecutions, the Eritrean Christians are holding on. They have this assurance that they are not alone and that they are fighting the good fight which will carry them through these fiery trials.
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life – Revelation 2:10
If you are moved to pray for the Christians in these countries, find out how at this link.
“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Hebrews 13:3