Solomon Napier

I found out more about him. More than I think anyone left knows.

He got married in Cincinnati to an Ariel Mitchell, whose family had come from Virginia. He then went to war. He was a private in the 100th infantry, Company E.

He fought here in Nashville. He battled up John Overton’s hill, through his peach orchard.

You can give a boy five hundred dollars and a new family. He will not forget the mother he left here, enslaved.

The Overtons knew the Napiers. Well. They mingled money. They bought a horse together.

Solomon Napier was armed within sight of Traveller’s Rest. Within sight of his father/uncle’s friends. Killing the kinds of men who stole his mother from him.

He lived through the War. He had three daughters that I could find.

In 1870, he lived in Arkansas with his family. He was a farmer. It was a good time to be a black man in Arkansas. By 1875, though, it wasn’t.

His widow and his children are in Minneapolis with her people by 1880.

I find no record of what happened to him. No grave with his name on it.

It could just be shoddy record-keeping, one last indignity, one last effort to erase a person from history.

But you lose a man, a black man who fought for the Union, in Arkansas in the middle of the ’70s with no trace, you start to think you’re looking at the last faint echoes of something really, really bad.

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A Review!

Yes, you can read a review of a story you can’t read until next week (unless you’re an Apex subscriber).

I’m very happy with it.

Yesterday my co-worker told me she’s listened to the audio version four times in her car and ended up sitting in the car when she arrived at her destination so that she could sit with the ending.

That also made me feel really awesome.

She also wondered where I learned the divination system in the story. Not the card reading, obviously, but that specific take on it. And i got to tell her that I made it up! She said it seemed very real and plausible.

But the best part, both in the review and in talking her her, is that neither seem to have noticed the tense change. And I was happy when I listened to the podcast to note that I also didn’t think it sounded clunky or weird.

I don’t consider myself a very proficient technician when it comes to writing. But I felt like the story needed a little something when I finished it, something to raise the stakes for the reader in a way they might not be able to put their fingers on. And since I had the four gardens of fate–a grouping of four–in the story, that gave me the idea for the tense change.

So, I guess, for me, that’s a bright red line the whole workings of the story hangs on: past, present, future, ambiguous future (which I’m sure there’s a technical term for, I just don’t know it) and each section needs to work in its own tense.

But for the reader, I need that seem to lay flat and not stand out. Just do the structural work of shaping the story unobtrusively.

I wasn’t sure if that would work or if it would get in the way of people being able to read the story. But so far, no one seems to even have noticed!

So, hurray!