A to Z April Blogging Challenge
M is for Museum, (The Fort Payne Depot Museum in particular).
Melissa lived alone with her two Great Danes, Willie and Billie, and a Siamese Cat she called, Mr. Boncles. She lived in a little cottage in the woods, near a large boy-scout camp, in North East Alabama. She loved the peace and quiet and the nature that lived right outside her door.
There were several stray cats that roamed the area and Melissa kept food out for them. She had several bird feeders scattered around, along with bird houses, squirrel feeders, rabbit feeders, and she even fed the deer. She had inherited 250 acres of land from her grandfather. Most of it was a wooded area that she had fenced off and placed ‘No Hunting’ signs everywhere.
The land had been owned by her family since back in the early 1800’s, possibly before. Her paternal grandfather’s mother had been a full blood Choctaw. Her paternal grandmother’s mother had been a full blood Cherokee and her father was rumored to be 1/4 Cherokee. Melissa had heard many old stories from her grandparents and from her great uncles and great aunts. The whole family were members of the Eastern Band of Cherokees. Rumor was that her ancestors married into the whites or hid out and simply evaded the army during the round up and removal of Cherokees in during 1838 – 1839.
Melissa, at age 25, was working on her third novel. This one was a historical novel including information about the Cherokee ‘Trail of Tears’. She was currently doing research on Fort Payne. Fort Payne was an actual stockade that held over 1,000 Cherokees during the removal effort of 1838 – 1839. Fort Payne is one of the few forts, erected in the removal effort, where surface ruins can be seen today. After the final removal, in October 1838, the fort was abandoned.
Today, Melissa had an appointment to visit the Fort Payne Depot Museum, which housed a room of Native American Artifacts.
She allowed the museum staff to show her around and tell her a bit of the city’s history. They showed her the History Room and the War Memorabilia Room. They showed her the Native American Room last.
As soon as Melissa entered the room, she felt a presence. It was almost overwhelming. She first looked at some Native American clothing, then some arrowheads, tools, and other memorabilia. When she saw the wood, she began to feel shaky and dizzy. Melissa knew what it was before they told her. It was pieces of the old blockade. Melissa could feel the sadness and terror coming from it. She reached out and touched a piece. She was immediately overwhelmed with pain, hunger, and terror. She could see their tear-stained faces, her their pleading voices; children crying for their parents, parents crying for their children. She could hear the soldiers laughing, as if they found it all funny. She was filled with such rage.
Melissa could hear one of the museum staff members calling her name, while she washed Melissa’s face with a cold, wet wash rag. Melissa opened her eyes and struggled to get up.
“No. No,” the woman said, “You must lie still, dear, until the ambulance gets here to check and see if you broke any bones.”
Melissa knew the museum would have a liability policy, so she cooperated. She allowed the paramedics to check her over. Once they were satisfied, they helped her, slowly, to her feet.
“Well, I don’t see or feel anything that’s broken, but you have a nice size goose egg on the back of your head. I don’t think it is a concussion, but it might be best to take you to the ER for x-rays, just to be sure,” one of the paramedics said.
Again, Melissa wanted to fight it, but knew the policy. One of the Museum Staff promised to drive her car over to the hospital and let her know where he parked it.
The x-rays showed no concussion, swelling, or bleeding of the brain. The doctor talked briefly about keeping her overnight, but she convinced him she had someone that would come pick her up and stay with her overnight, just in case. She still had to sign a bunch of papers for the hospital and for the museum, stating that she would not hold them responsible for any related injuries, once she walked out of the hospital door.
Melissa’s father and mother came to pick her up. Her mother stayed with her overnight, but Melissa had no further instances. To make her mother happy, Melissa allowed her to fuss over her. She brought her breakfast in bed and another ice pack for her head. Melissa took it easy all day. She wasn’t worried about her thoughts and feelings going away before she could capture them in ink. No, those thoughts, feelings, and faces were forever embedded in her memory.
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