Andy Sees the Light

The last round of NPR's 3-Minute-Fiction challenged us to "write a story that revolves around a U.S. president, who can be fictional or real."

The winner's story is very good. My entry didn't even make the "favorite" list. My writer's group didn't get it. But I still kinda like it. I put in 6 presidents. All of whom, I'm glad to report, eventually saw the light.

Andy Sees the Light

“Rachel?” Andy looked around the little clearing. Ah. Tennessee in June. She would come.

A broad field appeared. Two men hoeing. One looked up and waved his straw hat.

“Hey, Andy. ‘Bout time.” He turned to his Negro companion. “Mind if I take a breather, Gabe? I gotta talk to this guy.”

Andy stared. James Monroe? Couldn’t be. That social climbing son of a bitch wouldn’t be caught dead in a field with a n… Gabe? Not Gabriel Prosser! The heathen who dared to lead a slave revolt? Monroe had hanged the bastard. And rightly so.

Monroe clapped the dirt from his hands. “You know, I can’t say it’s been easy, but it hasn’t exactly been hell, either. I find I like getting my hands dirty, and Gabe there, well, he’s been a fine teacher. You’re a tougher nut than I ever was. And you’ll do fine, just fine.”

Andy stepped back, horrified, into a schoolroom. Three columns of words were printed on a blackboard, one in English, the other two in no tongue he had ever seen. Children sat at desks with opened books. But what children!

“Nigs and Injuns? What kind of nonsense is this?”

“So many died young, Andy. So many didn’t have a chance to learn. And I never thought to learn from them.”

He glared down at the man he knew as The Little Madison. Little, indeed. The man was a milksop of the worst kind. Protect the natives from good American settlers. Hmmpf. Then Madison was gone.

A small, dark woman came from the doorway of a cottage. “Children, let your father be and go wash up for supper.” Two dusky children – damned half-breeds – climbed off the knees of a lanky, red-haired man and scampered into the cottage.

“Welcome, my dear fellow, welcome. Of course, you have a way to go yet, but we have no doubt you will find your path. I myself had a weary way, but,” he stood and drew the woman to his side, “in the end, I found what I had been missing. And our two little ones who left us early. There are things for which we can never atone, but there …”

“The poor man has not yet trod his path, Thomas. Your words are eloquent, but they cannot do the work for him.” And Sally Heming pulled her man inside to supper with his family.

A path opened before him and a woman appeared in the distance. Rachel! He hurried toward her. Then he saw a man trailing in her wake.

“Come along, John. We promised the Jeffersons we would join them after supper. Sally has heard of a most interesting book on the state of women, and I am anxious to discuss it with her.”

John Adams nodded briefly to Andy as he and Abigail passed him. “Coming, dear. I have not forgotten.” Andy stared after them, and when he turned, the scene had once again changed.

A tall figure stood astride the path peering down at a surveyor’s compass on a plane table.


George Washington turned and pointed gravely further down the track.

“Does my Rachel await?”

“You have only to follow and she will be there.”

Where before the path had disappeared in darkness, now shone a great light. Andy bowed and hurried into it.

The cold wind whipped his rags about his body. His bare feet were freezing in the slushy mud. All around was the sound of sobbing.

Confused, he staggered. “Rachel! Rachel!”

The Choctaw steadied him. “The trail is long, Mr. Jackson. We must begin.”