Cora Kingston left behind an enigmatic memorial in a miner’s graveyard along the coast of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Carved in marble, the stone proclaims: “Erected by Cora Kingston In Loving remembrance of her dearest friend John Yendow Born May 31, 1867, Died October 5, 1892.”
Writers from around the globe wrote stories about Cora, John and the mystery of this marker. Filled with tragedy, humor and unexpected parallels to other places, history inspires fiction.
The following is based on the December 13, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Cora Kingston.
PART I (10-minute read)
Sandcastle Souls by Bill Engleson
Every day, Cara Kingston walked down from her cabin, passed mine, waved if I was in view, which was often that first year.
I was still struggling with heartbreak back then.
She’d walk out on the tiny peninsula that slunk into the Salish Sea, stand on its slippery shore, and wait for her lover, Walter.
“It’s so sad,” my neighbour Molly had intoned when first I moved to Sandcastle Point. “They’d been together such a short time when he was lost.”
“A storm surfaced. Another lost fisher.”
“When?” I asked.
“Yes. The pain never leaves.”
Cora’s Scrapbook (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Danni stood up, stretching stiff muscles after hours of sitting on the hardwood floor of Ramona’s bedroom. It was one thing to scour historical records for work, another to snoop through a box stashed under her husband’s grandmother’s bed. But Danni couldn’t pull herself away from the scrapbooks she found. One belonged to Ramona, another to Ramona’s mother, and a third to Cora Kinston Holman. Each documented events, recipes, photos and newspaper clippings. Was Cora Ramona’s maternal grandmother? The name was unfamiliar to Danni. Yet Cora’s scrapbook brimmed with poetry and sketches similar to Ramona’s stories and fairy drawings.
Memory in the Backyard by Trailblazer
Eighteen-year-old Andrew was familiar with the upright stone concealed in their bushy backyard, which read “Erected by Cora Kingston in memory of John Yendow.“
Everyone in the family was apathetic to his questions on Cora and John.
After many interrogations with the elderly people of the family and the locality, Andrew understood John was one of his forefathers, a spice merchant.
Traces of yellowish parchments in the underground garage, during his thirteen-day investigation, presented Andrew insights.
His forefather was a spy in disguise, who fell in love with a fellow spy Cora, a poetess for the public.
Core Values Part 1 by JulesPaige
Cora Holman King was named for her great grandmother. Entering into the King family which was splendid in its richness of history sometimes made young Cora pine for more knowledge of her Kingston relatives.
There was a story that in the a cemetery near Eagle River her great grandmother had erected a grave marker for a friend named John Yendow. There was no one to ask the how or why this was done.
In an old jewelry chest that belonged to the elder Cora, the great granddaughter found a false bottom with a letter. Maybe that held a clue?
Core Values Part 2 by JulesPaige
Yellow and brittle with a fine slant of fading India ink script, Cora Kingston was writing to John Yendow. It was not a love letter.
Your family was so kind to help ours when illness struck. We who had been neighbors and had survived so many cold winters. Without your families aide that bitter winter when my whole household was laid with high fevers, you and yours came morning, noon and night to check upon us.
I have set aside private funds of my own earnings. I hope to use it someday to remember you.
Core Values Part 3 by JulesPaige
Cora King wasn’t really any closer to finding answers as to how Cora Kingston knew of John Yendow’s death and how much was spent on the marker that was erected in his memory. What had her great grandmother done to earn that money. Why was the memorial just dedicated to John?
One could only guess that perhaps as children during that feverish winter, they had made promises that time wouldn’t let them keep. What Cora King could do was visit the white stone monument. Take its photograph and make sure it was kept clean. What more could she do?
Forbidden by Kate Spencer
Cora grabbed the net, hoisted her skirt hem and stepped into the rushing waters of Jacob’s Creek.
“I got it,” she said, securing the floundering trout John was reeling in. “This will fry up nicely.”
“It sure will.”
Like nesting turtle doves, they fussed over their meal and then sat on some rocks to talk about life before cleaning up their mess.
“Wanna see some mayflowers?” asked John after hiding the dishes in their usual spot.
“Show me!” laughed Cora grabbing John’s hand.
The underbrush crackled. Startled, Cora turned. Pointed at them was the barrel of her father’s rifle.
Out to Dry (Cora) by Papershots
Warm and cold weather she recognized by the time it took her laundry to dry, although she could never tell exactly when each item of clothing was dry; it had been pointed out to her that something can be humid but not necessarily wet – (“Never trust linen!”) – so she needed another hand to check what her touch told her, which was the light-hearted excuse for the forthcoming marriage, which is how neighbors and passers-by found out her friend had passed, clothes out in the wind for days on end, at the stretch of new balances, just to be sure.
Until Death by Jo Hawk The Writer
Cora read Papa’s letter again, hoping the words would change, knowing they would not. Her beloved John had succumbed. Typhoid. She pressed the letter to her heart and closed her eyes, remembering the last time they had been together, the day they said goodbye.
She was excited. Papa arranged for her to accompany cousin Olivia on her Grand Tour.
They would be gone a year and when she returned, she and John would marry.
The thought grabbed her heart, squeezing, constricting, making her wish for death.
She sat, immobile, cold, her life disintegrating. Papa’s letter fluttered to the floor.
Dearest John by Tina Stewart Brakebill
May 30, 1893
It finally arrived. I was scared that it wouldn’t get here in time for your birthday but it came on the train yesterday. Daddy will be angry but there’s nothing he can do about it now. When I saw our names together I fell to my knees. I love you so much. We talked so much about leaving this place. Being together. Going someplace where daddy couldn’t stop us. Then you left me. Alone. But daddy can’t stop us now. In death, we can be connected forever.
Till tomorrow my love.
Always Your Cora
The Family Secret by Susan Sleggs
From the time Cora Kingston attended the one room school house she had eyes for no other than John Yendow, a boy four years older. At home Cora’s mother would rail the girl that he was unacceptable. As Cora grew older her mother tried to pair her with unknowns from out of town but Cora refused. After typhoid took both her mother and John, Cora finally accepted another and moved far away. Years later she returned to erect a tombstone for her true love. If only he had been Jewish like her mother. The best kept secret in town.
Best Friends by Nancy Brady
Suddenly, Cora Kingston moved away. Brokenhearted, she married the first man she met. The truth was that she would always love John, her best friend.
They became fast friends from the time they met. John and Cora played together from building tree forts to playing checkers to talking.
During their teens they were encouraged to go to school dances with other students. Despite this, they remained best friends, pledging their love to each other.
When John asked for Cora’s hand in marriage, her father said, “No. It was a secret I hoped never to reveal, but you’re my son.
Forever Yours by Kay Kingsley
A folded note at the base of the headstone read, “My dearest John, I’ve wept for you more tears than water in the ocean or sand in the desert or stars in the sky. Cat Harbor is no longer our safe harbor so I must keep going like we promised we would if something bad should happen. This headstone marks your time here and as long as people can read our names together, we’ve carved our place in history for as long as it stands. Until fate joins us, I’ll be seeing you in my dreams. Forever Yours, Cora”
The Offering by Ethan Edmunds
She was supposed to meet him on the wandering rocks that night. Of the innumerable promises she’d made to John that summer, it was the only one she ever broke.
Cora knew he’d kept their secret, because in all the years since he’d disappeared, no one had ever come asking after him.
She knelt down as far as her hobbled knees would allow and placed the small bundle in the grass, trying desperately not to think about what was inside. Cora rested her weathered hand on the stone, closed her eyes, and waited patiently for the vibration to start.
Sacrifice by Joanne Fisher
Cora Kingston and John Yendow were demon hunters, though they hid this from everybody else. For a time they managed to keep Keweenaw Peninsula free of them.
One time they visited Cat Harbor and found a portal. They began a ritual to close it. Once it began to close some tentacles shot out. Something was trying to come through. Without thinking John ran straight into the portal. The last thing Cora saw was John being wrapped in tentacles. Then he was gone.
Cora had a marker made for John. It was the least she could do considering his sacrifice.
PART II (10-minute read)
Boy’s Club by Goldie
When I was a kid, whenever I would stay with him over the summer, grandpa used to take me out for breakfast Saturday morning. While grandma and my sister – Nicole stayed at home and tended to the house chores, we would go out to have “manly” talks. No girls were allowed. The truth was we would drive to Kingston to eat what grandpa normally wasn’t allowed, like crepes loaded with fruits, whipped cream and creamy chocolate hazelnut filling, and drizzled with honey-butter. Cora’s Breakfast & Lunch was our little secret.
Cora Kingston, Artist, and Author by Saifun Hassam
The Yeandeau Lighthouse was on a rocky promontory, west of the rugged cliffs overlooking Yeandeau Harbor. The deep indigo and turquoise Pacific Ocean waters morphed into the blue summer skies.
Cora Timmons was a journalist, and loved to sail along these Pacific waters. The Lighthouse, originally built in the 19th century, was named after Jack Yeandeau, an avid naturalist and explorer of the bays and inlets. Her great-great-aunt, Cora Kingston was grief stricken when Jack disappeared in a ferocious sea squall. She was a talented artist, and later published Jack’s notes, journals, and sketches, including her own seashore paintings.
Cora Kingston by Robbie Cheadle
Cora Kingston stood on the wooden deck of the ship gazing in wonder at the white sand and scrubby greenery of Algoa Bay.
The knowledge that the terrible four-month long journey by sea was nearly over filled her with relief.
The strong sun shone down on her as she cuddled her three-week-old infant in her arms. She was thankful that the government’s promise of a warm climate was true. Hopefully, the promise of 100 acres of land would also materialise. She offered a silent prayer of thanks that this baby would have a better opportunity in this new land.
True Love by H.R.R. Gorman
He was a friend of mine. I bought his headstone and put him in the earth.
His parents were poor, but I was sure he wouldn’t have had even a wooden marker tied with twine.
He’d been kind to me at the stamp mill, seen me as an equal, a confidant. We were to be married, a convenience to him and freedom to me, if God hadn’t chosen to take him home. His parents were ever grateful that I was willing to hide their ‘mistake.’
But how could John’s life be a mistake when I loved him so deeply?
Cora Kingston by Irene Waters
Cora looked into his eyes. Her belly warmed and tingled, her heart felt full while her head was clear. She floated on a cloud of love as soft as marshmallow but strong as steel.
“There is nothing left. I’m out!” John was adamant.
The base of her skull contracted, her jaw tightened, Nausea replaced the warmth. She followed him when he left. He was always in her sights. A phone call , a knock on his new door when he had a guest. A shotgun when it looked serious. Her name on his grave. He’d never be rid of her.
Name Recognition: You Just Need The Correct Association by Geoff Le Pard
‘Cora Kingston? Who’s she?’
‘Taught us English and Ethics.’
‘Ethics? I didn’t do Ethics.’
‘Why doesn’t that surprise me. Boring Cora. You must remember.’
‘Had a voice like dead gerbil.’
‘Nope. Distinguishing features?’
‘She liked tweed skirts.’
‘Geez, Logan that’s narrowed it down to about fifty. Anyway does it matter?’
‘I saw her in town. She wanted to be remembered to you.’
‘Ha! You sound terrified.’
‘Any teacher who remembers me worries me. My profile was so low it was concave.’
‘She said she borrowed a tenner from you…’
‘HER? Where did you see her?’
The Wedding That Never Was by TNKerr
Seems that Cora was laid to rest that day at Mountain View Cemetery next to her husband, John Blackwell Holman.
She was buried with a photograph and a tattered wedding invitation. The photo showed a smiling young miner. Penned on the back of the photo in a woman’s hand the name John Y and a date – September 1892. The invitation was hand printed:
REQUEST THE HONOR OF YOUR PRESENCE
AT THEIR MARRIAGE
ON SATURDAY, 9TH OF JUNE, 1892
AT 2 O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON
OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE CONSUMPTION CHURCH
CAT HARBOR, MICHIGAN
Taboo by Di @ pensitivity101
The marker miraculously appeared overnight on the unmarked grave of a poor man.
No-one in the family, now or then, knew who Cora Kingston was, or what her relationship was with John Yendow, a man with many friends, but no money.
He had made his way through life working the land as and where he could.
The Kingston Farm was one of the most profitable in the country, but there was no mention of a Cora. Unless it was a subterfuge to hide a relationship between races, beliefs and religion which would have resulted in death for both parties.
Safe Harbor by D. Avery
A shooting star streaked across the night sky. Tears welled as Cora thought of John.
At his death she heard the sympathetic whispering. “Now they’ll never marry.”
Before his death they whispered, “When will they marry?” Maybe John was waiting until he had more to offer; maybe Cora’s parents were against the union. There was much speculation. But John and Cora clearly enjoyed each other’s company. The whispers sometimes became unkind.
Cora and John had loved one another. Now she alone knew why they would never have married.
“Rest in peace, dearest friend,” Cora whispered to the starlit night.
Cora’s Love by Ritu Bhathal
Cora wept as she carefully reread the card in one of her hands.
Tears blurred her vision but the words were etched on her eyeballs.
“You are cordially invited to the union John Yendow and Cora Kingston…”
The proofs of their wedding invitations had arrived earlier that week,
but so caught up was she in her grief, she hadn’t looked at the mail.
Instead of stepping into the church as a blushing bride-to-be,
she had entered it to bid farewell to her one true love.
In the other had she held today’s order of service.
“In loving memory of…”
Identity Found by Ann Edall-Robson
She loathed the old law obliterating a woman’s maiden name when she married. Erasing her true identity, leaving only her first name intact, sometimes. She had been searching for years to fill in the blanks of where she was from, who she was from. The obituary took up half the column. An invitation to a family reunion/memorial, and in the middle of the list was her full name, her town. Someone else had been searching too and found her, and her kin. They were all descendants of Cora Kingston. A perfect stranger had unlocked her life’s history pages.
Jane Eyre meets Cora Kingston by Anne Goodwin
After fleeing Thornfield with only the shabby apparel I arrived in, the coachman set me down at a crossroads in a north-midland shire, dusk with moorland. Skirts snagged by the heather, I sought a place to rest my bones.
By God’s grace, I encountered another lonely female, whose kindness in sharing her meagre repast of bread and cheese brought forth my sorry story.
“Why, pray, did you not go with him?”
“He was married to another – although he came to regret it.”
“Perhaps you did not love him enough.” Cora took my hand. “Have you ever kissed a girl?”
A Century Later by Reena Saxena
It was a painful moment of my life to erect this memorial. I lost the person who mattered most to me. The loneliness in the island often makes me think how John would have taken it, if I had died earlier…
A century later, I laugh amidst the waves crashing against the shore. John is immortalized, only because of what I did. The curiosity of researchers is about my story.
I wish they would go around a little more, and find the other tombstones I built – in memory of my dearest victims. They made me happy in their lifetime.
Flash Fiction: Apology by the Dark Netizen
Cora slumped in the chair, her face buried in her palms.
John’s body lay at her feet, his lifeless eyes looking at her. A stream of tears began running down Cora’s face. John did not deserve to die as he did. He was a good man. No, he was the best man and an even better friend. She had taken advantage of him.
She should never have let her hunger get the better of her. If only she had controlled a bit more, John would still have had his soul inside him.
The tombstone would remain as her apology…
Cora Beliefs by D. Avery
“Hey, Pal, what d’ya say?”
“‘Bout what, Kid? Cain’t waste words ‘roun here.”
“‘Bout Cora Kingston then. Know anything on that matter?”
“They say she’s from up north, Eagle River way. Cat Harbor.”
“That I know.”
“Say she went west with a near John, but not her dear John.”
“‘S’what I heard.”
“Thing is, Cora weren’t her real name; it was assumed.”
“I never assumed that.”
“No, Kid, she assumed it.
“Yep. Fannie Hooe come back incognito, claimin’ ta be Cora Kingston.”
“In neat clogs? Oh. Keens?”
“True story, Kid. Plausibly.”
Thank you, Writers! You made my week with your imaginative stories of Cora Kingston!
Some great stories here Charli!
Cora had a rich life and much to overcome! Thanks, Di!
What a wonderful assortment of stories. Very creative all. Thanks for sharing Charli.
Good stories! Thanks for adding to it!
These are great. In less than 100 words you managed to collect long stories, short stories, and tall tales; but they are all great stories!
Ha! That’s a great descriptor for it, TN! I love how the collection brings the stories to life across the diversity of writers and tales.
Oh my! So many wonderful takes!!!
I know! I loved them all! Thanks, Ritu!
Great variation of fascinating writing again Charli!
OUCH I missed this prompt … seems WP has left quite a few posts off my reader since I went private … too busy to keep track of them 🙁
Such a variety of stories about Cora and John. Enjoyed reading them all. Thanks Charli, and I wish you quick healing. Breaking a bone, as I found out recently, is no picnic. ~nan
What a remake of history. This is lovely reading of all the stories. Don’t cut short of your resting and recuperating from the nasty fall. Ouch! Fall down the stairs? You have good friends and neighbors to help, so that’s a blessing!
A great collection as always.
Great responses to an interesting prompt.