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Sweet Tea and Cornbread
A Note In a Bottle
Amazing Grace
The Walker
An Old Fashioned Christmas
An Unconsidered Destiny
My Kind of Sport
The Scourge of Jones Street
The Girls In the Hall
The Selkie
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Amazing Grace 
In 1838, most of the Cherokee people were removed
from their ancestral lands in the Appalachian Mountains. The paths of The Removal came to be known as The Trail of Tears.

This fiction story is to remind us today of the suffering
endured by the Cherokee during that time, when, it is said, over 4,000 Cherokee died on The Trail of Tears.  It is also said that when they buried their loved ones who died along The Trail, they sang the song, Amazing Grace. 


He cradled her, tried to suffuse the warmth of his body into hers as the rising sun made a feeble attempt to warm the frozen morning. But a chill held her in its grasp, the same coldness that had claimed their two small sons. The little warmth in Yonvglegi left him yet did nothing to strengthen Awiusdi's waning life force. She slipped away on quiet, unseen feet, and he couldn't stop her leaving.

When the last breath left her body, a numb, unbelieving denial gripped him. He smoothed the raven's wing of her hair with a rough hand, gently caressed her sunken cheek. She was gone, and he was alone.

“Move,” the soldiers shouted as they strode among the groups of Ani-Tsalagi. “Time to get going.”

Yonvglegi's sister touched his shoulder. “You must lay her in the wagon. We will bury her when they let us stop tonight.”

“No.”

“Please. They will--” Her words broke off when a soldier shoved her. She rose and padded away.

The soldier tapped Yonvglegi's back with the butt of his gun. “Get up. Put the body in the wagon and go.”

Yonvglegi struggled to his feet with Awiusdi's body in his arms. He couldn't let her go. He stumbled to join the people who were arising, continuing their forced journey, their backs to their mountain homes which lay in the distance behind them, their faces toward an unknown future. And they walked.

By midday, his arms were leaden masses, shot through with pain. But he couldn't lay her in the wagon. He struggled on, no tears marking his impassive face, the agony of his soul hidden behind his half-closed eyes. The tears slid instead down the cheeks of the white people who gathered along the way to watch as Ani-Tsalagi passed.

When evening came and the day's trek ended, his mother's clan gathered round him. The men dug Awiusdi's grave. At last, Yonvglegi laid her in the ground as the people sang the song taught them by missionaries, the song they'd sung at each hastily dug grave where they'd laid their loved ones in their final rest.

* * *

Private Jones dug a candle from his bag and lit it. He found his pencil stub, opened his diary and wrote:

“They buried three more today, so quiet, except for the singing. At each burial, they sing 'Amazing Grace' in their own language. They don't cry, but I do. My heart rages for them.”

 * * * 

Yonvglegi, exhausted and sore, did not sleep. He lay on the icy ground beside Awiusdi's grave, his heart aching, wishing he could follow his love to the spirit world, but he remained tied to this one by some stubborn thread of survival.

And when the cold gray light of another morning crept over him, he arose with the others, left his heart behind him and walked on.


Listen to Amazing Grace, sung in Cherokee by Walela.

I wrote this story in memory of my great-great-great-grandparents, who went to Oklahoma on The Trail of Tears.

 
Original material Copyrignt 2010 - 2011 by Tommie Lyn   ~   Web design by Word Slinger Boutique