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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

From the Author's Pen: Finding Abigail

Girl in the Mirror (Public Domain)
Girl in the Mirror (Public Domain)

The process of deciding which souls become narrators in the Etched in Granite Historical Fiction Series can be daunting. Initially, after spending so much time learning about the history and people connected to the cemetery and Poor Farm, the choice seemed obvious. It was all about which set of circumstances tugged at my heartstrings the most.

When I imagined how frightening it must have been for young, unwed mothers to be exiled from their families, home, and community, I had to go there. Most of us have made choices in our lives that either left us devastated or could have. This is especially true when we are youthful and finding our way. This doesn't necessarily only apply to young women. It can happen to anyone at any time, resulting in poor judgment with unfavorable consequences.

It was essential for me to show how Abigail was an innocent young woman with the promise of her life before her. Yet, everything fell apart after one fateful night. The turn of events in her life and those surrounding her were beyond unfortunate. It became a story of survival and her willingness to accept her destiny.

It is during this time that she questions all. We tend to explore the meaning of life when we are facing monumental change. Abigail's narration provided an opportunity to illustrate how she examined her faith and how she would find meaning in her life and world. It is an example of how to see in the dark.

Her connection to Nanatasis— Nellie—provides a glimpse into the importance of spanning generations and cultures to form powerful healing bonds. These healing bonds continue throughout time.

In narrative form, the overall goal is to give voice where it was stripped away, buried in unnamed graves, lost in time. Abigail represents the innocent child in us all, the one who trusts and finds herself facing obstacles that were never imagined. We are rooting for her as she is present throughout the series. She is the spirit that guides us through hardship and loss.

When reading this series, it is enriching to find the character that resonates with your being and imagine how you would fare. Put yourself in their shoes; ask, what would I do if this were me?

The people sentenced to the Poor Farms were ordinary, good people. They faced challenging times and did not have the means to cope with whatever brought them there. They were burdens in society in a system that knew not what to do. We are still there. Perhaps the tracing back along these storylines will illuminate options. We can only learn from our mistakes if we acknowledge their existence.

Abigail is a powerful character who resides in me. Her fortitude, faith, and courage weave through all of the pages in this series. She holds the lantern high, shining a light on which path to take, making sure to include all that must tell their stories.


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