Today my story “Our Dearly Departed” went live on Coffee House Writers. Thank you so much to my friend Seth for all of his help on the fact-checking and historical research for this story. He’s actually the inspiration for writing a western and has been a huge encouragement to me breaking out of writing in the American Gothic genres in more regions across the United States.
This story focuses on the subject of post-mortem photography and how it was used in the era of westward expansion and Manifest Destiny. For those that could afford photography sessions in the territories, a luxury service not afforded to most people unlike in eastern states, it was all about creating a facade of preserved standard of living to share with the family back home. This involved false windows, painted backdrops, and curating a scene that matched what people wanted their families to believe, even in death. Given the expense, the photographer was called out to a home for births, deaths, and marriages only if they didn’t have a studio set up yet. Most photographers traveled until the 1890s – 1900s when the railroads allowed town populations to grow enough to sustain studio spaces, as opposed to the photographer traveling to each individual business request. These areas would later become “the flyover states.”
I will write more on the subjects of western cabinet card era photography (post-mortem, momento mori, mourning, etc), as well as how it differed across various regions of the United States, and how it intersected with American Spiritualism and legal fraud in the future. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this short story inspired by my research so far with cultural and historic details assisted by a dear friend and someone I would consider extremely knowledgable on the West. Hopefully my skills at writing American Gothic style period pieces pertaining to this region of the United States improves.
Thank you for reading and I hope you have a great day! Remember to breathe 🙂
I’m happy to announce my short story ‘Cicadas‘ is live on Coffee House Writers! I’m excited to bring my readers back to one of my past homes as I pay homage to a city I love. Richmond is a beautiful city filled with rich history and the kind of muggy summer heat you don’t easily forget.
Thank you for taking the time to read my short story today! Have you ever written or read anything set in a place you have lived? What did you think of it? What do you think of this piece? I’d love to hear in the comments!
If you’d like to see more flash fiction, please like, comment, and/or share this post. It helps me know what content my readers are most interested in seeing, so I can better know what to share here.
As an additional layer, the content warning is as follows:
This story contains references and allusions to the abuse of vulnerable populations, such as those with disabilities, LGBTQA+, and children of abusive parents, and may contain content that some may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.
The specificity is important here. These topics are ones related to trauma.
As the first of 2 parts (parts 5 and 6) released during June 2020, I am planning these to be the big reveals of the main characters’ situation in this LGBTQ+ medical and legal Southern gothic horror.
There is a correction. There are two references to a slamming door (oops). This is being corrected by the editors. Only the second reference is correct. The first reference is going to be removed. If you only see one reference to a slamming door then it has been fixed by the time you have read this.
Let me know what you think of the story so far as the story of Dee and Madison continues to unfold.
Thank you for reading. Without you these would be words entered into the void of electrons/photons making up the internet.