25 March 2016

Published March 23, 2016 by rochellewisoff

The disc and the dragonfly


The following photo is the PROMPT. Keep in mind that all photos are the property of the contributor, therefore copyrighted and require express permission to use for purposes other than Friday Fictioneers. Giving credit to whom credit is due is proper etiquette. 

Please be considerate and make an effort to stay within the suggested word count. 

PHOTO PROMPT - © Ted Strutz

PHOTO PROMPT – © Ted Strutz

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Due to circumstances beyond my control this past week, including an all day car repair, dental issues and a computer crash, I am posting an excerpt from my working manuscript, As One Must, One Can. While it’s just under a hundred words, it’s not a complete story. In this stage of the book, Havah, who teaches an unheard of girl’s Hebrew class, accompanied by her nephew Lev, is going to check on two of her students who live in McClure Flats which was a Kansas City Slum populated mostly by Russian Jewish immigrants. 

Genre: Historical Fiction

(the year is 1908)

Word Count: 97


            Lev and Havah passed a row of brick hovels with lean-tos serving as porches.

            Everywhere she turned she saw unkempt children whose noses leaked slimy trails to their lips. 

            A woman with pockmarked cheeks and sunken eyes sat beside a shanty, her blouse hanging open so her toddler could suckle from her shriveled breast.

            A little girl chased a small animal crying, “Kit-kat! Kit-kat!” in Yiddish.

           The creature scurried under Havah’s skirts before disappearing between the cracks of a dilapidated wall. The ground swerved beneath her when she realized it was neither cat nor dog, but a large rat. 




Lev Resnick, Havah's nephew-Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Lev Resnick, Havah’s nephew-Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Havah Cohen Gitterman -Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Havah Cohen Gitterman -Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

McClure Flats, Kansas City, Missouri

McClure Flats, Kansas City, Missouri-Photo taken around 1910




BN Event Poster

121 comments on “25 March 2016

    • Dear Björn,

      McClure Flats was a terrible place. I’m not sure I do it ‘justice.’ Thank you for your generous comments. I’ll miss your stories the next two weeks. Enjoy your time off.




  • I liked “the ground swerved beneath her”. That’s a perfect description of that terrible rush of consciousness/stability when you’ve been startled or terrified. McClure Flats looks like a dreadful place – you’ve captured it vividly. Well done as always, and sorry for the frustrations that are plaguing you right now.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Dear Michael,

      Alas I fear that rats and slums are a fact of life. Fortunately McClure Flats no longer exists. In fact few Kansas City residents are aware that it ever did.

      Thank you for your comments.




    • Dear Melony,

      As I just said on your story, we went in similar directions. Of course the first two novels are out and available. 😉 😉
      Just click the side bar.
      I’ll admit this excerpt is more adjective-heavy than a self-contained flash fiction should be. Glad you liked. Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

  • Your description was so vivid I could see it, Rochelle. I’ve seen children like that. Of course, I’ve seen plenty here in India. I suspected something other than a cat or dog when you used the word “scurried”. Well written as always. — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Suzanne,

      Thank you for the good words. I’m sure you have seen plenty where you are. Every big city has their slums for certain. This particular place is now a downtown parking lot.




  • Funny how so few seem to know of the McClure Flats …. and for the life of me, I don’t know why I know of them – but I do. As soon as you mentioned them, without an image, I could see them clearly. I guess somewhere along my travels, I must have come across them – perhaps through my photography studies.

    At any rate, even as you are breaking the rules here 😉 nonetheless, this is an excerpt that can stand alone – even if there was no explanation about the characters etc. because you have very intimately described a slice of the essence of these incredible places, for slums like this have existed and still do, unfortunately, all over the world. You’ve captured the misery and poverty, the atmosphere very well.

    Wonderfully done.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Pat,

      McClure Flats was finally torn down between 1911 and 1912 as far as I can find. Dates conflict. Today the area is a parking lot. A fitting end I believe.

      Thank you for your generous comments concerning my excerpt. Much appreciated.



      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with this comment. The excerpt stands alone as a slice of life experience. I’m not sure how it could be more of a story in 100 words or less?
        I never heard of McClure Flats either, but I did not study history in College and have learned, after moving states, how state-centric our education is in the U.S. I could tell you all about Henry Hudson, the St. Lawrence fur trade, the Erie canal, NY tenements, Ellis Island etc… But I was questioning if Maryland was even in the South or not and what was the big deal about the War of 1812?


  • Dear Rochelle,
    I love how I learn something new when I read so many of your stories (I know I’ve said that before)!
    That was a thoroughly bleak and poignant description of McClure Flats! The child chasing a rat is an image that will linger. That last sentence about the rat made me shudder.
    As always, you write with empathy and implicit outrage at the horrible state in which the destitute or the unfortunate live.

    Liked by 1 person

  • A well written slice of history. Actually, although short, this story does stand alone. It gives us a glimpse into what life was really like for so many people. Thankfully, the area, and the memories, are erased from reality and only exists in historical documentation. Well done.


    • Dear Neil,

      There is one way to see where this chapter went. 😉 The book is due out this year. All I have to do is finish it, get it edited, etc etc. It’s the third novel in a trilogy…the other two are on the side bar of this page. There. You’ve gotten the sales pitch.

      Thank you for reading and leaving nice comments. Much appreciated.




  • I have to agree with all of the above. It does stand alone; it is a fabulous description; it is a most dismal place that I am in no rush to visit… and I cannot wait to read book 3!!! xo

    Liked by 2 people

  • Very vivid, Rochelle. I like how you make the locals seem at home, but the protagonist is at sea, as that last line vividly conjures.
    The concrit that struck me was a lot of adjectives / adverbs. They help to create the scene and perhaps wouldn’t feel as heavy in a novel-length piece as they did for me here. There are places though (eg “unkempt children whose runny noses leaked slimy trails to dirty lips”) where every noun has a descriptor and for my taste that is a bit much. I like every one of those adjectives individually, but altogether they were too much. “Runny” is definitely superfluous given the slimy trails; arguably “unkempt” could go as well.
    But of course, you should stay true to your voice and vision, and ignore me with my blessing.

    I am looking forward to a time when my own children can occasionally wipe their own noses (along with other body-parts!) and I can settle down with your novels.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jen,

      You do have me thinking since you’re not the first to mention the adjectives. Although I’m not seeing the adverbs. I tend to use them as little as possible. I myself questioned the need for ‘runny’ and decided to whack ‘dirty lips’ in the manuscript itself. We know where the trails lead, don’t we? 😉 Since two writers I respect have now said the same thing, it means I take another look. So I’ll only ignore part of your suggestion.

      McClure Flats was a horrible place. Fortunately it no longer exists. But as within any city on the planet, there are other neighborhoods that have taken its place.

      As always, thank you for your honest crit, for none of us are above it.

      Thank you and Shalom,


      PS Of course, I too, want you to be able to settle down with my novels. 😉 They will keep…children don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve looked again and I think I must have dreamt the adverbs, sorry. As for adjectives, I suspect it’s part of your style when not paring down to a hundred words, because that line isn’t extreme when compared to others in the extract. Maybe something to have in the back of your mind when line-editing, but as agent, publisher and fans alike have voted with their feet, definitely not something to worry about.


  • Dear Sigourney Freud,
    I was hoping it was a possum and they would invite it to stay for dinner. Those slums look awful. My Dad (born in 1909) said when he was a boy and they traveled to Springdale, you could smell the town long before it came into view. I’m sure the same rang true for McClure Flats.

    Congrats on the Big Event coming up at Barnes & Noble.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Winkie,

      Being Missouri I suppose it could’ve been a possum. I would imagine from all that I’ve read, McClure Flats, with its lack of sanitation, had an aromatic atmosphere.

      Thank you for the congrats. I really need to get to work on scheduling more. There’s more to be an author these days than writing.



      Liked by 1 person

  • As usual, I learned something from you today. Thank you also for including the historical photo. Looks something like the “tent cities” in Haiti, the ones that were supposed to be temporary in 2010, but are still there in 2016. Poverty has a way of enduring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jan.

      Nothing thrills me more than to hear that a reader learned something. 😉 This has been the only photo I’ve been able to find of the place. Poverty is indeed enduring. Fortunately McClure Flats is a parking lot these days.

      Thank you for your feedback. .




  • Fantastic descriptions Rochelle. I can really see it all and personally liked the adjectives and adverbs. I think they enrich the descriptions to the extent the reader sees the picture rather than just reads and takes in the information. If that makes sense. I know on the other hand there is the counter argument that less is more, but personally I don’t think so in this case. You want the slime, the dirt, the whole essence of the situation.


    • Dear Michael,

      I’ve actually done a bit of tweaking since the initial crit. I didn’t take out all of the adjectives because I felt they were necessary. As for adverbs, there aren’t any in that excerpt…never were. Sometimes less is more. But you’re right, not in this particular part of the book. In fact it gets nastier. 😉

      At any rate I’m glad this piece worked for you. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It does mean a lot.




  • I’m glad you put this up, i remember you reading it to me. Nice. It’ll be there for publication on due time.

    But, did you know it actually DOES fit the prompt? “As One Must, One CAN. Get? CAN? A-HA a–HA a-HA! (Take out wrenched ankle …)


  • I love reading your words…it is always a beautiful journey …reminds me how much I enjoyed your novel. Have not yet read the sequel but when I do, I will write a review and let you know. Shalom

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Cheryl-Lynn,

      I can’t wait to hear your take on From Silt and Ashes. I only hope you don’t have the same issues with posting a review on Amazon that you had before.
      Arel and Havah are taking me on quite a journey with this third book. As far as I know it’s the last in a trilogy. 😉
      Thank you and shalom,



  • Ooh, not the rats!! That’s where I draw the line, Rochelle. My sister had to deal with them once and one turned up in her toilet. I could have written about that! Darn! I just remembered it now. 🙂
    Very vivid imagery and description. I’m following Havah’s eyes. That’s what I love about your writing, your ability to put the reader right inside the scene. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Amy,

      Thank you for your high praise. That’s the goal…always…to put the reader into the character’s head and in the moment. That darn rat’s gotten a lot of attention this week. 😉 If I’d been Havah I’d have screamed, too.



      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Chekii,

      That’s the beauty of flash fiction. It has helped me to be a more concise writer even in the longer pieces. Of course this excerpt is part of a much longer piece, ie a novel. I’m glad you enjoyed it and took the time to leave such a nice comment.

      Thank you.




  • I don’t know how you manage to transport us into a different time and place with just a few words, but you do it again and again. The descriptions are vivid, the excerpt can stand on its own, and I very much look forward to reading your books soon. As an adult I can sympathize with the horror of the rat, but as a kid, I would have run after it, yelling kit-kat, too. I found a half-drowned rat once and sat down to pet the poor little animal. My parents chased me away… I guess I was lucky it didn’t bite me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Gabriele,

      Your words fill me with smiles. I look forward to your feedback on the novels. Thank you for sharing your own rat story. That rat seems to be the focus of my piece this week. 😉

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.



      Liked by 1 person

  • What an extraordinarily vivid world. The image of the woman with her blouse open to nurse her child was dark and startling and incredibly powerful. And the girl chasing the rat—my goodness. Your words took me straight there. To think this existed. How incredible. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  • A very vivid and descriptive excerpt, it stands on its own as a work of flash fiction. Congratulations on the Barnes & Noble event and even more on starting work on a third manuscript. Your work ethic is indeed inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

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