Heaven Sent

Margaret and Kathleen: forever nine years old. Not ones to hold the chalk while others hopped from square to square, they’d met St. Peter at the gates, request in mind.

“Emissary,” was their word for the day that December first. They listened attentively as Sister Mary Kelley used it in a sentence. Henry raised his hand and at that moment, they began to smell the smoke.

And so it came to be. Fifty-seven years later, these cherubic emissaries hovered, waiting by the grave. Soon, a small child would take their hands and be escorted from this world to the next.

jhc5

100 words.  Photo by J. Hardy Carroll and used as this week’s prompt for Friday Fictioneers. Dedicated to those who lost their lives in Chicago’s Our Lady of the Angels Elementary School fire, December 1, 1958.

36 thoughts on “Heaven Sent

    • lillian November 11, 2015 / 3:00 pm

      Thank you, Melinda. So glad you like it. After this terrible fire, many changes were made in school safety concerning fires and natural disasters.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Melinda Kucsera November 11, 2015 / 3:30 pm

        You’re welcome. I’m glad they made those changes.

        Like

  1. Karen November 11, 2015 / 4:53 pm

    I remember pouring over the newspapers, looking at all the photos of the kids who had died, comparing my age with theirs. It was such a horrible, horrible thing.

    Like

    • lillian November 11, 2015 / 8:14 pm

      Can’t get myself to “like” your comment. Appreciate your candid reply.
      Doing research for this poem, I saw horrible photos of desctruction and read the names of victims…Margaret Chambers and Kathleen Carr, both 9, were in room 210 with Sister Mary Seraphica Kelley. A classroom of 57: 28 died including Sister Kelley; 15 were injured; 14 escaped. This was just one room in the school. Horrible indeed.

      Like

  2. SarCou November 11, 2015 / 5:57 pm

    great story. The first time I read it I felt the sadness and poignancy; the second time a smile and a respect for the ambitious little girls. And how lovely for children to be greeted by two the same as them rather than a big, hooded man with a massive knife 😉 very well done – it flows beautifully.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 11, 2015 / 8:15 pm

      Thank you so much for your very complimentary words….and for reading it twice. The innocence of children…..heartbreaking when they become angels too soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ansumani November 11, 2015 / 7:39 pm

    First reaction to the story was – I don’t want them to have a emissary job. Next was to think if a child is so unfortunate as to meet death early , it would help to think there are kind innocent souls to hold their hands.

    Well written.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 11, 2015 / 8:21 pm

      Thank you so much for your words here – and for taking the time to reflect on the story. Sadly, the names are of real victims in this 1958 Our Lady of the Angels Elementary School fire. The story as to what they were doing, and what they became is mine. I like to think, as you’ve said here, that there are kind innocent souls like sweet Margaret and Kathleen, who hold the hands of those who become angels too young.

      Like

  4. Tracey@WhatsforDinnerDoc.com November 11, 2015 / 8:47 pm

    C – I like everything about this piece. I had to think a bit about what you meant by “not being one to hold the chalk” but then it dawned on me that these little girls took control of their destiny and put their Christian teachings to work in the service of others. I love a kid with initiative even after death.
    Tracey

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 11, 2015 / 9:06 pm

      Tracey, thank you for your very kind words. I think it’s always good when a poem or story makes us stop and think a bit. And it’s interesting to see one’s words from another’s perspective. I originally meant that Margaret and Kathleen liked to play hopscotch – a popular game on sidewalks and elementary school playgrounds in the fifties. They didn’t like to just draw the squares, or hold the chalk while others jumped….they were active little girls. And your interpretation fits perfectly here — they were take charge kind of little girls and so, even in death, they chose to be active….become the word they’d studied that last day on earth….emissaries…active angels who would help others transition from death in this world to life in the thereafter.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. AnnMarie Roselli-Kissack November 11, 2015 / 9:42 pm

    We often don’t think of specific lives of ‘regular’ folk lost in ways that might have made a headline or two “back” then – then forgotten by most of us after the papers are tossed…
    Lillian this was hauntingly lovely.
    am:)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. rochellewisoff November 12, 2015 / 4:10 am

    Dear Lillian,

    You had me at the first line…’forever nine years old.” Beautiful and haunting. No negative C here. 😉 Poetic prose. Well done.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 12, 2015 / 9:11 am

      Smiling with your words this morning, over my first cup of coffee. So very glad you liked it.

      Like

    • lillian November 12, 2015 / 9:12 am

      What a lovely lovely compliment to read this morning. My coffee tastes all the better now!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. santoshwriter November 12, 2015 / 2:35 pm

    I had to read your story several times to get it. I hate to say that I do not believe in afterlife, but I thought your story was moving! 9 is not an age to die…

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 12, 2015 / 2:39 pm

      I appreciate your candid reply and your motivated multiple reading. Too many young angels that fateful day. Losing a child on any day is the absolute reversal of the human order. We crave some kind of comfort in our loss.

      Like

  8. liz young November 13, 2015 / 5:56 am

    Iit’s nice to think a dying child will be welcomed by peers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 13, 2015 / 8:41 am

      Thanks for the read, Liz. Nice to meet you here in this cyber space. Just had a wonderful visit from two of my London colleagues — showed them some of the Boston sites. Their Brit accents received quite a few smiles on the way — 🙂

      Like

    • lillian November 13, 2015 / 8:45 am

      Hard to press the “Like” star on this. Yes. This fire was historical in many ways. It is well remembered in Chicago.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Yolanda Renee November 13, 2015 / 1:10 pm

    Excellent story based on true life. Well done, no real critique here. 5 stars
    I will have to take the challenge of historical fiction one day, you and Rochelle seem to have a knack for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 13, 2015 / 2:14 pm

      Many thanks for your very kind read. Truly appreciate it! Have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Dale November 13, 2015 / 11:26 pm

    The death of children is never easy but you gave it such a lovely spin.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Above the Cylinder November 15, 2015 / 7:32 pm

    C-
    A moving piece that connects well throughout. If anything, I would possibly consider working in an “even now,” or some sort of inclination that they have worked as emissaries since the tragedy for many others. As it stands, it may risk being read as though this is their one assignment, waiting by a specific grave. Of course, I really doubt anyone’s reading it that way, but such an edit may sufficiently fill the gap between time-specific scenes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 15, 2015 / 8:32 pm

      Thank you for your thoughtful reading. Much appreciated. Always tough to pick the words when limited to 100.

      Like

  12. hlhivy November 16, 2015 / 7:12 am

    Lillian, I’m teaching The Great Fire by Jim Murphy to 6th graders right now. They keep asking if Chicago had other fires after that. May I share your poem with my class?

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 16, 2015 / 9:58 am

      Absolutely! Please do 🙂 I’m honored!

      Like

  13. hlhivy November 16, 2015 / 12:03 pm

    My class says: “Thank you for this amazing poem. It inspires us to help other people find their path in life. It inspires us to start writing poetry. Your work is so unique.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 16, 2015 / 1:12 pm

      Oh my…..I am reallt smiling here. This is just so so wonderful — I think the greatest compliment I’ve very received on my work! Thank you so much and thank your class! 🙂

      Like

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