“The Promised Land”

By the Great Tree, Monrovia, Liberia. April the eleventh, 1830.

Dear Sir,
Fifty-six days at sea with most of our newly-freed black brethren suffering from seasickness, and now that we are in Africa, from the fever. We have lost four adults and five children, with dozens sick, particularly the light-complected.
All is not as we were led to believe. Food and basic goods are scarce, and merchants sell everything at 200 percent. Very little land has been cleared or planted as the settlers would rather follow the trading business than labor in the fields. We, however, need the crops.
I hope to have better news next time I write.
Moses Cole

(Friday Fictioneers, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, April 5, 2013.)

This entry was posted in Flash Fiction, historical, historical fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to “The Promised Land”

  1. Great story in a beautiful form

  2. Honie Briggs says:

    You’ve conveyed quite a story. I wonder if the news will in fact be better, but imagine it might get worse first.

  3. Like a ship’s log / there never seems to be good news
    very well done

  4. I like this a lot, vb! Well done.


  5. Your story/letter show great desperation. Nice work.

    • vbholmes says:

      I would guess there were many desperate times as people struggled to establish themselves thousands of miles away from home–braver folk than I.

  6. Penny L Howe says:

    Brilliant. Excellent use of the prompt, but your written words a purely wonderful read!

  7. Sandra says:

    The language of this piece was beautiful and spot on. Well done.

  8. Shreyank says:

    A great take on the story. Hope the next time around there is some good news

  9. Powerful words, well created.

  10. kz says:

    a great story. i really loved the format that you used too.

  11. vbholmes says:

    A letter seemed an appropriate vehicle for this story. Thanks, kz.

  12. elappleby says:

    Brilliant – loved the language – especially ‘light-complected’ – it added authenticity to the story.

    • vbholmes says:

      Many thanks, el. Actually, the darker-skinned settlers seem to have fared better in the early days although it sounds as if almost everyone had the fever to some degree. Life was not easy in a primitive land.

  13. Dear VB,
    I’ve little to say other than masterfully done!

  14. Beautiful. Reads like an actual historical piece. Perhaps it is. Nice work.

    • vbholmes says:

      It’s based on fact–the American Colonization Society sponsored the settlement of free blacks in Liberia during the nineteenth century. There were other similar organizations who also facilitated the development of West Africa and Haiti at that time.

  15. Mystikel says:

    Very authentic feeling, VB, as if it really was an old historical report. I will have to dip into some of the history here at your blog. Good job.

    • vbholmes says:

      There were many letters written by the emigrants to friends and sponsors in the US and also from those who remained at home who sent news to the settlers. Interesting reading.

  16. unspywriter says:

    Very well-executed and historically accurate, but I suspect you knew that. Promised lands often don’t live up to their promises. Tightly written, and a lot conveyed in few words. Good job.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/life-a-cliche/

  17. That’s a nice historical touch. It shows the harsh realities behind noble endeavors such as the founding of Liberia.

    • vbholmes says:

      While there were many supporters of Liberian development who saw it as a pioneering opportunity for blacks to return to their homeland, some Southern slave owners supported the emigration of free blacks as they feared their support of abolition would filter down to their slaves. Life is not easy–or black and white (pun intended).

  18. jwdwrites says:

    That was great vb, it felt so authentic, as if you had lifted it straight out of a real letter. Very nice. 🙂

  19. Parul says:

    The promised land – I like the choice of title..
    Wonder how many and in what ways nations and generations have been cheated throughout history.
    Well written. Like your idea of writing this as a letter.

  20. vbholmes says:

    Thanks, Parul–so much of historical research comes from letters, it’s a natural to employ that style.

  21. Sheila says:

    The all is not as we were led to believe line really sums it up. It’s sad that after surviving 56 days at sea, they had to face fever on land. So many lured by the promise of adventure had to face so many challenges.

  22. vbholmes says:

    Yellow fever remains a problem in Liberia today and travelers must have proof of vaccination to enter the country. There are many primitive and undeveloped areas where foreigners are advised not to travel so I guess the challenges still exist. Thanks for stopping by, Sheila.

  23. I love historical fiction!

  24. zookyworld says:

    What a creative response to the prompt. You powerfully created a bleak — but hopeful — scene. A great way to end it, with the hope that he will have better news in the next letter.

  25. I was transplanted! Nice work creating a sense of time and place.

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