Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Scribblings #242 - What a Difference a Day Makes

And in a single day and night of misfortune, the island of Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea.

9600 BC.


Caesar walked up the steps of the forum, his head held high. The winds of fortune were at his back today, he thought. The Gods had truly smiled upon this humble leader of their mortal constituency. Today was the day, he determined, as he passed through the marble-set entrace, that all his greatest ambitions would come to pass. By sunset, Rome would have seen a new birth, a new victory. As he walked among his white-cladden comrades in the senate, he smiled confidently, assured in his own success.

He didn't see the daggers until it was too late.

Ides of March, 44 BC.


Martin Luther marched up to the door of the Castle Church, a scroll of paper held tightly in one hand, a pair of nails in the other. Coming upon the step he paused, reading again his own words upon the scroll. No new errors presented themselves to his scrutiny - it was ready.

Lacking a hammer, he hefted a heavy rock from the earth-paven street and beat the nails through the paper and into the door - dead center, over top of every other edict and argument hanging there. The sound echoed through the silent church, rocking the candles on the alter and the cruxifix on the wall - rocking, as it were, the very foundations of all christianity.

All Hallows Eve, 1517.


Thomas Jefferson leaned forward over the piece of parchment, seeing as though for the first time the familiar words that covered it - the children of his own pen. His determination set to the sticking place, he took up the quill and placed his signature at the bottom of the document.

He had followed the suit of several other men before him, and many more came after. In doing so they marked themselves as traitors to the most powerful empire int he known world. They signed away their liberty, their honor, and even their very lives - all for the sake of this one piece of paper. And yet, though small, it was a document that would soon be the cause of bloodshed to men of all nationalities - Englishmen, Frenchmen, Americans, and Islanders alike. It was a document destined to unalterably change the entire known world from the day of its signing and forever after.

July 4, 1776.


The plane flew out from the island early that day. No one knew where it was going - not even the high-ranking officers. Those who saw it leave watched it until it was no longer visible over the horizon. Some tried to guess at its purpose. Purely confidential, the whole thing had been - and headed for Japan, it looked like.

No one, in the wildest corner of their imaginations, guessed at what that plane carried in its cargo holds. No one dreamed that by the time it returned that night, it would have been responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 people. No one knew that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were enjoying their final day free of the devistation and terror of the warfront, free from the poison of radiation.

The American navy and airforce recruits would all tell of it in years to come - how they watched the planes go. But on that day, no one realized that by sunset, the Enola Gay would have returned from its horrific mission having won the greatest victory of the second great war - a victory that would plunge the world into a reign of terror for decades to come.

August 6, 1945.


The young woman lay on the couch in her new apartment - a dormitory, really, but apartment sounded more grown up. Her eyes were dry, and she looked quite normal - but she had done her fair share of crying earlier on, and her heart was still aching from the ordeal.

It had been a horrible day - piles of reading, more nameless faces and faceless names swiming in and out of her view in the passing crowds on campus, and another unintetional "detour" on the way home. It was too much. She wanted nothing more than to go back to her own bed in her own house, far away from all the harship of college. Homesickness, she thought, was more potent than any germ or virus known to man. It hurt badly and stayed on, like an aching muscle after a long hike.

A knock at the door. The young woman pushed herself up off the cushions and went to answer it. It was another girl - one of the roommates from the dorm next door. "Hey - sorry to barge in like this. Are you... doing anything tonight?"

"Uh - no, not at all. Come on in, please. It's Kathryn, right?" asked the young woman, surprised that she remembered the other girl's name.

"Yes. Rachel, isn't it? I don't want to interrupt anything. I didn't have anything to do, so I thought I'd come see if anyone was around..."

The conversation lengthened. Common ground was discovered, similarities shared. Smiles lengthened, and laughter soon followed. Hospitality was extended. A movie was put on, treats fetched from both dorms, and pillows and blankets brought out. The evening was a wonderful one - and, little by little, the homesickness and despair were making their retreat. As Rachel looked at her new friend from across the couch, she felt a new emotion take their place - something sweet and healing and as familiar as a summer day. And somehow, she felt very certain that it was going to last.

September 10, 2010.


  1. Wonderful stories. Life can change so quickly, for good or for evil. I especially like how you show that friendship is just as precious and important as earth-shaking world events.

  2. Interesting take, searching through the shelves of time, finding historic moments, then sharing friendship and the difference it can make, even during the first moments.

  3. You write very well Rachel. These little excerpts would make great poems, especially the Martin Luther one. Give it a shot!

  4. In the early 90's (maybe before) there was a movement on the part of some writers called "Sudden Fiction." The idea was to do what you have done here---write an event, create a moment, move the reader, in less than a page.
    The image of the shaking cross inside the church as Luther pounds the thesis onto the door is poetry. Commit it to verse Rach.