HerStory: Fiction Honoring Women’s History Month is an anthology that honors women from all walks of life, cultures, and moments in history.
Blurb: In ancient times, women were regarded as sacred. They were thought to hold the mystical power of creation—responsible for the continuation of our species. With the rise of science and religion, these myths were dispelled and their plight began.
HerStory: Fiction Honoring Women’s History Month is a collection of flash fiction and short stories from today’s top authors featuring female characters that exemplify strength of mind, body, and character. Some of these tales are based on real people while others are purely fictional. However, all are standing up for themselves and what they believe in.
Grab yourself a glass of wine or favorite hot beverage and get comfortable as you read about the lives of women who will light the fire in your soul.
Below is an excerpt from A Pit Story by Shelli Rosewarne. Within the pages of HerStory, you will find 27 different voices, 32 different heroines. This is Shelli’s voice, and Maud is her heroine.
“Who has authorization on-site at the moment then?”
One of the foremen shifted uncomfortably.
“We have two first-aiders underground, but we don’t know if they might be injured too.”
Maud shook her head. “If they’re badly injured, they can go into shock when they get moved. They need a shot first.”
He glanced away. “There’s no one who can do it,” he said simply.
Before she realized what she was saying, Maud replied, “There’s me.”
The yard almost turned as one to stare at her.
The foreman coughed. “Er, ma’am, you know that’s not possible. Women aren’t allowed underground.”
She glared. “Are you prepared to let people die because of that? Robbie Stanham, I knew your mother and God bless her soul, she would be ashamed.”
He flushed under the layer of coal dust and looked away.
“It ain’t safe, ma’am,” he muttered, but she knew he was only saying it for show.
She paused—was she really going to do this? Not only was it dangerous, but even if she made it out again safely, she would be in world of trouble … maybe even lose her job. Harry might be down there … or Danny. Even if they’re not, it’s someone’s husband, someone’s son … you owe it to them.
She squared her shoulders. “Someone get me a helmet.”
By the time she was decked-out in overalls three sizes too big for her with an overlarge helmet weighing down her head, she doubted her sanity. This was crazy—she’d never been underground before. While she supposed she might have been a little curious, both the rules and a well-placed sense of self-preservation had kept it at just curiosity.
She carefully checked her pack—that was the main thing, getting the first-aid supplies down to those who couldn’t be moved safely without them. Focus, Maud. Lives are at stake here … this is what your job is about, remember? She stepped gingerly toward the entrance, where half a dozen waited to go with her. She was grateful, knowing they could be risking discipline as well simply by helping her.
Lord, it looks dark. She peered into the gaping hole in the earth. As though he read her thoughts, one of the men stepped forward and gently flicked on the light on top of her helmet. She smiled a little sheepishly at him and muttered her thanks. The small bulb gave a pale watery glow, only seeming to deepen the shadows. You volunteered for this. No backing out now. She shook herself and stepped into the blackness.
It was like stepping into another world. The darkness was so thick she could barely see a few steps in front of her. The lights from their helmets and the lantern one of the men carried reflected off the gray walls. As they moved away from the entrance, the passages became narrower, the roof lower. Maud could almost feel the dirt and stone pressing in on her. The light of the day didn’t penetrate here and she could feel the cold and damp seeping through the heavy overalls. She tried to take deep breaths, but that just seemed to fill her lungs with dust and she found herself coughing.
The man ahead of her turned back. “Are you okay?”
She forced herself to nod and he smiled briefly at her.
“Always bad your first time down. Turn your collar up and take shallow breaths.”
She did as he suggested and although it helped a little with the dust, she felt the cold settling into her bones. She tried to concentrate on the broad back of the man in front of her.
Lord, she couldn’t imagine doing this every day!
She focused on the monotony, the stepping forward, the lamps set at intervals down the passageway, the stamping of their footsteps and the constant grayness around them. She didn’t even notice the man in front of her had stopped until she nearly ran into the back of him. He turned to her and gestured to a slumped form on the ground. Maud carefully stepped round him, gesturing for the man with the lamp to come forward, as she crouched down beside the fallen miner. The warm glow of the lamp glinted on his blood-stained form and the white shine of bone poking through his shin. She gently touched his shoulder and he turned pain-filled eyes her way.
“Am I dead?” he whispered.
She tried to smile reassuringly. “No, pet. The angels are a great deal prettier than me.”
Thank you for joining us today and allowing the authors of HerStory to share this with you. Remember to honor women in history not just in the month of March, but throughout the entire year.
–Tara Chevrestt, Editor of HerStory
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