Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sad (07/26/07)
- TITLE: Suicide at Onarga
By Myrna Noyes
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How had this tragedy happened? Why did God allow it? When will this suffocating heaviness on my heart ease and let me breath normally?
His darling Ada’s face appeared to his tortured mind’s view. He saw her again as his curly-haired little girl with the sparkling smile that seemed to leave an ‘afterglow” behind. She’d always had such a happy, lively disposition and never lacked for friends. She delighted in learning, tackling everything from piano lessons to bicycling to mathematics with wide-open enthusiasm.
Then, the Ada of emerging young womanhood rose before his thoughts—slender, sweet, and deeply sensitive of heart. She loved her five siblings and was quite motherly to her toddler brother George, especially since the recent birth of baby Bud kept her mother extra-busy.
It was last April when Elijah became aware that 17-year-old Ada sang constantly and her countenance shone. What was the cause? Upon inquiry, Ada’s older sister Nancy hinted it might be due to that perennial spring affliction—love sickness. Elijah was amused at first, until rumor reached him that Ada had been noticed in a secluded riverside spot with a much older man. Elijah investigated and found she’d been keeping company the past few months with a sewing machine agent in his late thirties.
The confrontation scene between him, his wife, and their daughter came into view now with heart-breaking clarity. Ada stood before the fireplace twisting her fingers together, the bright light gone from her eyes, as he made his demands.
“Ada, Mother and I are aware of this romance of yours, and we strongly object. This man Phelps is too old for you! For goodness’ sake, he could be your father! We ask you to stop seeing him immediately and give back any trinkets you may have received. Will you promise this? It’s for your own good, dear girl.”
Ever obedient, Ada soberly agreed and returned the few small gifts while telling her lover that he need not visit her in future. Soon after, Mr. Phelps left for another place and didn’t stop in Onarga anymore.
Elijah convinced himself that soon all would be as it had been before this little affair of the heart began. On the surface, it appeared he was right. Ada continued going out and behaving as usual--attending church, visiting her friends, planning an out-of-town trip with Nancy to see a relative.
One evening the week before, Elijah had been in town on some business and had met Ada out shopping.
“Papa, what a surprise to see you here! I thought you were in for the night. Would you mind if I went over to the Pentecost meeting for awhile? Nannie is there, and I want to go over our plans to visit Cousin John.”
“Yes, of course. I’ll see you at home then. Keep your wrap close ‘round you as the temperature is falling fast.”
The rest of the evening’s events were pieced together later. Nancy reported Ada had left the meeting at quarter past eight. Then, a friend of Mr. Phelps had approached Ada on the street and asked to speak with her. They walked and talked for some time, until Ada noticed her mother out looking for her. She told the man she didn’t want to be seen with him, so they hurried in another direction. However, her mother had already recognized her.
It was after eleven when Ada came in, and he’d reproved her for her conduct, concluding, “I do not want it to happen again.”
Her answer was assured, “It never will.”
The family retired to bed, with Ada sleeping in a room adjoining her parents’. About one o’clock, Ada arose and told her mother, “I’m going for a drink of water.”
In a few minutes she returned to bed, but soon spoke again, “Mother, I am dying. Please dress me in the clothing I’ve laid out.”
The doctor was summoned, but the strychnine had accomplished its lethal work.
Why had she showed no outward hint of despondency? How long had she planned this? What could I have done differently?
Questions unanswered and darkness fallen, Elijah rose to reenter his sorrow-burdened home.
This is a true story about my Great-great grandfather Elijah and his daughter. The story title is the title of the article about her death in the paper at the time.
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