10 April 2015

Published April 8, 2015 by rochellewisoff

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 The following PHOTO is the PROMPT. Where does your mind travel? Take us there in a hundred words or less. 

My story follows the prompt and the link frog. I welcome honest comments and crit.


Dear Friday Fictioneers,

Some of you may have noticed a lack of my comments and replies last week. My editor and I have been up to our eyeballs in novel edits. I hope to catch up soon. Thank you for your patience and understanding. 

A heartfelt thanks to my editor and friend for sacrificing his time to help me untwist, un-hyphenate and smooth out the rough edges of the soon-to-be published PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME. 




PHOTO PROMPT – © Jennifer Pendergast

get the InLinkz code

Gere: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100


My dearest Zhilan,

            This night my thoughts turn toward home and you. I cherish the times we invited the moon to join us as we shared rice wine. Remember how we dreamed I would find Gold Mountain?

            Now my journey is hard and my days are filled with the pickaxe and train tracks. Never will I see you again, my fragrant orchid, nor our precious son…


            “Fever musta took him.” Levi knelt beside the body and pried a piece of crumpled paper from its stiff hand. “Whatcha make a this?”

            Orville squinted and shrugged. “Jest some ignorant Chinee scribbles.”









127 comments on “10 April 2015

  • Dear Rochelle,

    You remind us of the exacting cost in human lives behind The Pacific Railroad Act.
    your tale is admirably told with restraint and compassion, leading me to reflect on the nature of ‘progress’.
    Tough act to follow. Yours that is, the other …well, Politics is full of more of the same :-/


  • I liked the ‘detachment’ that the second part brings to a terrible tale of hardship. That was an interesting period in Chinese history, and you helped bring it to life in your inimitable manner. Well done. Don’t work too hard. 😉


  • Great work – Loved the disparity between the two pieces of text. The first, almost poetic – a farewell letter by a clearly educated man. The second, the ignorance of the two speakers is implied by their dialect and dismissal of writing because they don’t understand.
    Nicely done.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Powerful write there, Rochelle. We often forget that our train tracks to the west as well as our interstates were built on the backs of immigrant workers under deplorable conditions. Much like our service workers today, eh?


  • Such a difficult and sad time in our history, especially as the dreams died or were modified for those thinking they would have more. The attitudes you highlighted are still present today around the world and in far too many countries and cultures.


    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,
    Leave it to you to find the tragedy in railroad history and tell it this poignantly. The last bit is so tragic, so characteristic of human nature. Well done.

    Many congratulations, yet again, on the book deal. I’m super happy for you and also understand that this can be the most difficult portion of the process as you walk through final changes. Hang in there!

    Love and hugs,
    Marie Gail


    • Dear Marie Gail,

      Your comments on my story made me smile.

      There’s lots of work ahead with the book deal but it’s exciting at the same time. I’m really pleased that I’ve been given the opportunity to visit my first novel with a new pair of eyes.

      Thank you for the love and hugs. I’m sending a few back to you and making a rain check for the ones to be delivered in person. 😉



      Liked by 1 person

  • I am sure I’m not the only FF writer to have guessed why you were absent from our blogs. Getting your book into shape quite rightly took priority. Love your story this week, too – there were probably many such letters written and only sent in spirit.


    • Dear Liz,

      Thank you for understanding. I’m not sure when or if I’ll get back to last week’s stories. I did, how ever make it through all of this week’s.

      I shudder to think of the unsent letters or the lives sacrificed.

      Thank you.




    • Dear Alicia,

      It must have been a rude awakening for those Chinese workers to find out how barbaric Americans were. Definitely the wrong side of the tracks. 😉

      Thank you for you lovely comments.




  • Never feel the need to excuse yourself from FF for a while, and especially not when the competition involves publishing your novels. We can wait and you give us so much of your time and commitment, the only loss is by comparison to your usual high standards.
    (On which note, if there’s any way I can help with FF over the next few weeks, you know you need only ask).

    That aside, your story is once again moving and real and I really don’t know what to say that doesn’t repeat all my comments from previous weeks. Can we have a shorthand for ‘You are at the top of your game’ ?




    • Dear Jen,

      Your comments and offers to help are much appreciated. I’m not sure what you could do to help with FF. I’m thinking though. Although you certainly have your hands full at the moment.

      I’m pleased that you liked my story. This one came surprisingly easy. I love it when that happens since there are times I have to wrestle a flash fiction into submission.

      Thank you.




  • Such a beautifully written story of hopes and woes.
    Although I was aware of the Chinese involvement during the building of the railway, my knowledge on the topic has never been extensive, but after reading through the attachment, it has improved.
    So many amazing things (such as the railway) have been achieved, but more than likely at the cost of something else (in particular, the dreams of another individual).
    As usual, wonderfully written and my mind bank has been expanded too!


  • Hate is a four letter word that ignorance instils into hour mind. I remember photos like this one from our textbooks in grade-school. Your words bring new life to those images and paint a poignant story, Rochelle.


  • Man’s inhumanity to man… This one really kicked me in the gut at the end. Your structure here is really interesting. I liked the use of the letter to reveal one side of humanity, and then the finding of it to reveal the other side. Lovely work.


  • Rochelle,
    this is a great example of a multi-layered story. It is a sad time in history, although human exploitation is not something new, unfortunately. This is a beautiful story. I loved it.

    (I had an idea just a few minutes ago that I thought of sharing with you. I was thinking we could open up a forum for writers to share some of their insights/techniques/strategies for writing flash fiction, especially writers who are more experienced, since it could really help some of the newer writers. We could even compile them into a Friday Fictioneers Handbook or something. I thought of it today concerning serial stories; how they are difficult to pull off and how the author can’t expect readers to go read the previous installments. Anyway, since you’re the captain of this ship, I thought I’d share the idea with you, even though I know you’re crazy busy right now. Good luck with the editing, by the way. 🙂 )


    • Dear David,

      There are some FF writers I respect more than others and I’d say you’re in my top ten. Your opinion means a lot to me. Thank you for your kind comments, both on my story and on the tragic history behind it.

      I love your idea for a forum and now that the editing is coming to a close, I’ll have to think about how we can pull it off. Perhaps I should start a new page. I’m glad you brought up serial stories. I, for one, refuse to catch up with the author’s links to keep me up to speed. It’s a lot to ask, If a story doesn’t stand on its own, the writer has missed the point of a complete story, beginning, middle and end in a hundred words or less. But I should save this for a forum. 😉

      Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Nan,

      As I write this reply I’m close to finished with the edits. I’m fortunate in having a friend with a keen eye, too.

      I’m glad you liked this story. Thank you for your kind words.




  • It sounds as though your novel editing is progressing well. All good speed to you, Rochelle. This is a heartbreaking, but realistic story. It’s the kind of realism we expect from your excellent writing. Well done as always. — Suzanne


  • From descriptively romantic through sad to the tragic ending. Just another immigrant worker dead and forgotten about. Beautifully written.
    Sounds like the novel is coming on, good luck with it!


  • Dear Rochelle,

    For the record, that’s un-hyphenate….not un hyphen. (Oh, damn, you changed it already. Your editor is fast…and good.)

    And as for your story this week…it’s brilliant.




    • Dear Doug,

      I have the best editor a person could ask for and I hope he realizes how much I appreciate his help.

      I’m gLad You liked my story. Brilliant is a word I never take lightly.




  • In 100 words, you have given a very poignant sense to a history many wouldn’t understand now.
    I have taught, studied, and written about the Chinese in North America. Your story says as much as a student-led 60 minute seminar, or a multi-page paper for a conference.


    • Dear Mike,

      When I chose the prompt this was the first story that popped into my head. It’s a sad piece of American history, isn’t it?

      I’m so pleased you took the time to read and comment.




  • So poignant. I just love what I imagine to be some authentic voice here. In some way it puts me in mind of an accident in Morecombe Bay a few years ago when some Chinese cockle collectors working for an illegal gang-master (bastards) were trapped by the fast moving incoming tide and perished, with some speaking to their families in China as it was happening. So sad and yet so avoidable.


  • Dear Rochelle

    What a tragic tale — or rather two contrasting tales in one. The things people will suffer for money, swapping one type of hardship for another. As for exploitation, I see it happening in the UK today with some of our migrant workers from Eastern Europe who are willing to work in jobs that our own citizens won’t touch, in this case for minimum wages.

    That link you provided about the Chinese railway workers was fascinating. To think of so much blood, sweat, and tears going into building something that, latterly, thousands or millions of people have taken for granted.

    Beautifully written, as usual.

    All best wishes


    • Dear Sarah,

      We have the same situation in the States with migrant workers from Mexico. I have mixed emotions on that one, but the fact is that they’re willing to do anything and everything for next to nothing to make a living.

      I’m pleased you checked out the link. I think my Chinese worker might have been more educated than most, according to the link but surely there were some like him.

      Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

  • Hi Rochelle,

    Don’t worry about the lack of comments. You’ve been busy! 🙂 Wishing you all the luck in your publishing journey!

    As for the story, very well done. It’s terrible how badly workers were treated when it came to the railroads, and doubly so when the overt racism is taken into account.

    Take care,


    • Dear Emilie,

      I just clicked the ‘send’ button this morning. The novel is back in the hands of the publisher. :D, along with artwork and mug shot. Phew! I don’t know if I’ll catch up to last week’s stories or not with tomorrow being the next prompt.

      Glad you liked my story. I so appreciate different cultures and have always had a great admiration for Asian cultures in particular. I hate that they were treated so badly.

      Thank you.




  • Beautifully written this week, Rochelle. The story of how our railroads were built is a truly sad and incredible one indeed! If you ever have the chance, you should read The Living, by Annie Dillard… a brilliant historical fiction of how my town was “settled.” It is a story that encompasses so much, and is unflinchingly real, like your story. Shabbat shalom, friend. xox


  • Dear Rochelle

    Your story reminded me of the Irish ‘navvies’ who built our railroads and canals here in the UK; a harsh unforgiving life which you show so well.

    Good look with the editing.

    Bet wishes



    • Dear Dee,

      The editing is done and the manuscript sent back to the publisher. So now it’s a matter waiting and working on other things pertaining to the book.

      Thank you for reading and leaving such nice comments. I’m spilling over into the next week trying t catch up on replies.



      Liked by 1 person

  • A wonderful though tragic story. So many immigrant workers died building railroads. Their lives were so hard and extremely dangerous at times. In Britain we had the same situation with the many Irish workers (‘navvies’) on both the canals and railways. Beautifully written, Rochelle.


  • Dear Rochelle,
    The story broke my heart a little as it should have. I can’t imagine thinking any human being less than me because they weren’t white. The ignorance of man makes me crazy. Beautifully sad story and the imagery was fantastic.

    Love, Renee


  • I loved the letter he wrote. Wonderful imagery, evoking sadness. Humans are mostly the same. I don’t know why people can’t embrace this and that we should celebrate the differences. Beautiful story, Rochelle.


  • Dear Rochelle,
    You’ve written a sorrowful story. I have a friend who has told me many stories about the days of the building of the Panama Canal. Those who came before us and the way they suffered for a better life should be revered. Your story is powerful in that way.
    Isadora 😎


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