Bella's Point & Her Challenge

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Congrats to Elizabeth Seckman on her new historical fiction novel, Bella's Point.

Isabella Troy Stanley is a divorced, slave freeing pariah surviving in the shattered post Civil War south the only way a fallen debutante knows how. She heads to a Yankee prison and buys herself a husband. 

Jack Byron is the former Troy plantation stable boy and object of young Bella's affection. He rejected her then, and he's still not sold on the idea of marrying her now.  

It’s complicated.

Though to Bella, it’s simple: make Jack love her, marry her, and live happily ever after. The plan seems to least until her secret is revealed.

Elizabeth is a wife, a mom, and a writer. She has four wonderful boys, one dusty house, and three published books to her credit. Feel free to check them out and buy them HERE! Erm, the books, not the kids or the house...though all things in life are negotiable ;)

You can find her here - Blog * Facebook * Twitter

Here's my story that's part of the Bella's Point Challenge.
  1. Write something readers want to read. No word limit, no guidelines. Your only prompt is: The year was 1865.... (feel free to ignore the prompt, creative genius never bound by rules or prompts)

 Rolling Calf Encounter

The year was 1865 and Kahini was sure his family would be dead by the time 1866 stepped in. Since the start of the year, Mama said they had to eat healthy, which was no fun for the family. Breakfast and dinner had more leaves than meat, but Mama said it was good for them. No matter how she seasoned the nasty callaloo and pack-choy that grew in the back garden, they did not taste any better.

Shomari couldn't help but resent the Geohagen family for the plots of land they had leased to all the slaves when they were set free in 1834. As far as Kahini saw it, the vegetables his mother grew and sold in the market kept them tied to the land.

Mama swore by her greens though, based on the good work she said Kahini and his brother were doing at the school in the village. As he crouched in the dark, Kahini wondered about that. If his brains were working right, why was he outside at night when he could be lying on his cot in the room he shared with Shomari?

“Remind me again what we doing out here on a moonshine night,” Kahini said, while he huddled behind a tree, trying to see though the fog that lay close to the ground.

"Watching for di rolling calf. That's what we doing," Shomari said.

Kahini glanced at him, wanting to slap his big forehead. “Rolling calf my behind. Never heard such nonsense.”

“Shhh!” Shomari put a finger to his lips and pointed with his other hand. “Over there. Wait ‘til the moon comes out from behind the cloud. You’ll see.”

Kahini rubbed his hands up and down his arms to keep away the chill. The wind whistled around them and the leaves in the tree above them shook and danced. Something slithered along a branch over their heads. In the darkness, it looked as big as a mambo, but it was probably a tree snake. The moonshine made everything large and spooky. Only the souls of the dead slaves who roamed the estate should be out on a night like this.

Every story he had ever heard about things that wandered in the night came back to haunt Kahini. The great house at the top of the hill caught his eyes. The cutwork stone walls loomed high above the ground, making him think of that story Gan-Gan had told him about the woman who was sometimes seen late at night, riding a white horse around the house.

Kahini's body went cold again. The cane leaves rustled on the other side of the track and the banana trees to their right joined them, beating their leaves together. On the ground, the shadows from the banana leaves made Kahini think of duppies. Gan-Gan, who was probably a hundred years old like Backra John in the big house, said the spirits roamed at night, seeking to devour runaway slaves.

Something brushed his ear and Kahini came close to snapping his neck. Goosebumps raced over his back and he got ready to run, but the mist was thick tonight. If he ran, he'd fall and break something and Mama would fix his business.

Shomari let out a giggle and held up a feather. "It's just me playing with you."

Kahini sucked air through his teeth and grumbled, then he heard it. A jangling that made his body go ice cold.

To their left, the bushes moved and then went still, although the wind was still blowing. The rattling of a chain carried on the hazy air. In the mist, a shadowy figure approached them, low to the ground, its eyes glowing green. The monster grunted and pawed the dirt, spreading a musty odour.

Shomari yelled. “Run!”

Kahini cut through the bushes, with the creature running hard on his heels.  It snarled and made gurgling sounds in its throat. Kahini pictured teeth as long as machete blades, which made him run faster. Heart pounding, he clawed at the cane fronds hugging the path certain he would pee himself, but he kept going. When he thought his heart would explode through his ears, the creature behind him yelped and tore down a side track.

Kahini ran on, hardly aware of the leaves whipping his skin. He slowed and then stopped when he remembered the monster had run away. When he came to the next clearing, he leaned against a tree, holding himself up with his hands pressed to his knees.

Soon, Shomari came out of the darkness, his chest wheezing as if he was in the middle of an asthma attack. Kahini hoped he wouldn't get sick because Mama would blame him for that too.

“Gan-Gan was right! Rolling calves really exist!” Kahini said, when he could speak. The thought of that bull from hell with red eyes—only this one had green eyeballs—nearly made him wet his shorts.

Shomari giggled and bent over, holding his belly. He continued laughing, while his chest heaved and after a moment, he pressed both hands to his sides.  

“What’s so funny?” Kahini asked, wiping sweat off his forehead.

“You!” Shomari said, holding up a length of chain. “Rolling calves don’t exist. Gan-Gan just likes to make up scary stories so we won't go out at night. The rolling calf you were running from is just a stray mongrel I found yesterday.”

"And you won't live to see tomorrow," Kahini yelled, as he chased Shomari into the cane piece.


  1. So funny! I was that sort of kid. Whatever my grandma told me, I believed and my imagination was way to big for my cowardly soul. I imagined all sorts of really bad things in the dark! (Still do, though I rarely admit it.)

    Thanks for the help Joy! So very appreciated :)

    1. Happy to participate, Elizabeth. It gave me a chance to think up some stuff for this character, whose story I need to edit.

  2. Mega congrats to Elizabeth on Bella's Point! It sounds wonderful!

    And I love the descriptions and atmosphere of the Rolling Calf Encounter!

  3. I have been considering that word prompt since Elizabeth posted the challenge. Thus far, inspiration has not struck. Good for you on taking and running with it.

    1. Wasn't sure what to do with it, but then inspiration struck when I thought of this character.

  4. Kids tricking each other. Such fun! Good job on the entry.

    1. Thanks, Loni. This character is always good for some fun and games.

  5. And like any good dog, he enjoyed the chase. Very entertaining, Joy.

  6. Congratulations to Elizabeth. Joy, I was so right ther with your story. Everything from callaloo to from the rustle in the leaves, the night frights, so real. Well done! I could see this story becoming a novel.

    1. Thanks, Bish. I have a complete book about this fellow that my son had a lot of fun reading. It's been long enough that I can have a look at it again.

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  8. Great piece. I wanted to try fiction, but was dry of ideas. This reminds me of the scary stories I believed in as a kid, and I was terrified at night.

    1. Medeia, I can so relate to stories and television drama that left me sleepless at nights. Glad I got this done and I like Kahini. :)

  9. I really enjoyed this piece, Joy! I loved your descriptions of the night, the shadows, and the chase.

    1. Thanks, Chrys. It was fun putting it together.

  10. How fun! You totally caught me with that twist. Poor kid though. I bet he won't be able to walk out nights again for years;)

  11. Elizabeth, I love the dusty house part. Congratulations on your new book. Love seeing it everywhere!


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