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Era of Hardship

by J.R. Vaineo

A wide, worn dirt road strewn with loose pebbles. That’s the main path where thousands have trod, over the years. Off to the left, a wooden sidewalk leads to the striking, two icons of the place. Two houses painted a smoky-blue. Two levels tall, a cute little balcony on one, they sit almost directly across from each other. Separated by fifty yards or less, there’s lumpy, grassy ground between them. Adding to their quaintness is the trim colored white and dark-red. They are perhaps sun weathered. But most definitely wind-beaten. Still, they stand as a reminder of another time. An era of hardship, and perseverance.

Farther along the dirt path, single-level buildings are situated to the right. Barracks, a jail, and officer quarters. All whitewashed, they glare on the sunny days. Their similarity lies in their size: cramped. Were the occupants of long ago used to being packed in tight with each other? Or are the people of today just bigger? Taller, broader, and less reluctant to give up their space? Whatever the reason, the buildings appear suited for dwarves or fairies. Not humans, in the modern world.

At the dirt path’s end stands a mini museum. To the left, it’s open. Only sparse trees add some shade, while their leaves rattle in the wind. Birch trees. Their white bark contrasts against the dullness. Then there’s the grass. Rarely is it a bright-green. It’s just pale-green and straw-yellow. Dying or dead, much like the previous habitants of this place. Toward the right, a curved path leads to the dwarven fort made of wooden-poles.

For most of the year, it is a quiet place to reflect on the past, on an age nearly forgotten. The era of exploration, fur trade, and near constant wars. The 1800s, in Colonial America. It’s beautiful to look at, respectful to remember, but never would one wish to go back there. To the hardship. To the daily fear of being shot or stabbed in your sleep, plagued with sickness and disease, or worse. Kidnapped. Made a slave. No, no! Let the past stay where it is, and let us learn from it. Glean from their mistakes, and build our homeland up, to be the best it can be. Safe, and full of love. United, and free. Our lively USA, land of many peoples and colors.

Use these prompts:


  • What details and images distinguish the place where you live or a place you’ve visited?

  • You can write a list or do a freewrite. For the game mentioned in this chapter, choose a place that might be familiar to your circle of writers and describe it with enough detail so that they can guess where it is when you read it aloud, but without using clichés that give it away.

Deutsch, Laura. Writing from the Senses (pp. 27-28). Shambhala. Kindle Edition. 

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