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Age of Innocence: flash fiction

Updated on November 14, 2016
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Chris has written more than 100 flash fiction/short stories.Working Vacation took 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

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Age of Innocence

He watched his daughter, only a child, walk in front of the crowd, dressed to impress. She was nervous, shy, and afraid, too young to understand the significance of the pageantry and the honor it was to have been chosen from among all the girls present.

At an event like this, a ring of red, blue, yellow and pink flowers might have adorned her head. A necklace of white blossoms may have hung low, emphasizing her undeveloped youthfulness and innocence.

But there were no flowers in the ceremony, no efflorescence at all in the surrounding countryside. These were mere insinuations of greater perils which led to the selection of the child and the solemn tradition that was to follow.

Dan Fogelberg's The Innocent Age

In the shade of the trees that lined the brim of the pit and the pool far below, the gathering of friends, neighbors and families watched as the girl was escorted to the stone waiting chamber on the brink of the chasm.

Rain had not come to the Yucatecan hinterland for many months. The drought had taken its toll on gardens and wild plants alike. Food became as gold and hunger everyone’s constant companion. Desperation hung in the air like a heavy fog.

In the innocence of childhood, she stood on the far side of the chamber facing the pool below, her back to the congregation, naked, obedient, hands and feet bound. The hand of the otherwise unseen priest reached out, and she fell.

The crowd dispersed with heads bowed, hearts hopeful, leaving the child’s father gazing into cloudless skies.

“Mighty Chaak, rain god of the Mayan people, are you happy now?”

Pool, or Cenote, at Chichen Itza, in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico

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    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Deb, Thanks for reading. Great photos on your blog.....of the birds and of you.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 22 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      It is always the innocents...

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Lawrence, Thanks for reading my story. I seem to be in a sad story mode at the moment. I'm just getting ready to publish another right now. Thanks for taking time to check out the story.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Powerful and as michelle said. Heartbreaking and profound.

      Lawrence

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Frank, thanks for that generous description of my story. I'm glad you found it to be so.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Shauna, as I wrote this story, my mind kept returning to thoughts of the Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped by the Boko Haram. No doubt these evil men had evil purposes for taking these children. Thanks for reading and commenting here. This isn't a happy, carefree story, so I don't take your participation for granted.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Genna, There will always be evil ones among us who will seek out ways to do harm to the innocent among us. And just as there is no end to the ways to cause such harm, there are unlimited ways to do good to all men. Thanks for reading, Genna, and for the comment.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 22 months ago from Shelton

      wow, amazing powerful and strong I love it

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 22 months ago from Central Florida

      I love Dan Fogelberg. His songs tell stories. You've told a story accompanied by a song. What a tribute to a great songwriter! Your words epitomize the message of lost innocence. Sadly, too many of the world's children don't know the joys of childhood.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 22 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      And we still sacrifice the children of humanity…albeit in different ways. Very powerful, Chris.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Linda, thank you for coming by and reading the story. Sad? yes, very. I came across some photos of Chichen Itza and this came to mind. I had to write it. I am thankful for all the insightful comments as well.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Bill, yes, the perfect song for a story like this. Thanks for pointing it out. Do things ever really change? Not really. There are those among us who will always find ways to hurt the most innocent. I'm thankful for the good homes and good people who do their very best.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 22 months ago from Minnesota

      Cam-this is so incredibly sad. I think it's great how you can write a hub with your thoughts in mind, and then your comments bring it to another level and give it more layers. A sad but well written flash fiction. I'll have to go check out Ann's hub on loss of innocence.

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      Bill Holland 22 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I was reminded of a song by Dan Fogelberg while I read this..."The Age of Innocence"....listen to it and you'll understand.

      Very nice work my friend. Do things ever really change?

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Ann, I just read your "Innocence" hub and left a comment there. Well done.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 22 months ago from SW England

      Funny you should say that; have just published an 'innocence' type hub!

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      I agree, this hub, surprisingly, has some striking parallels to today. I wasn't thinking that way when I wrote it. I appreciate all the comments.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Ann, I may need to follow this up with a story about growing up on the farm. Talk about childhood innocence. Me, my pony and endless Indiana farm land. Now that was living.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 22 months ago from SW England

      I think you're right about some parenting and, dare I say it, education does the same sometimes.

      Innocence is gone all too quickly; when I was young it was a different story, for me at least. It's a troubling situation.

      My, your hub has stirred up some issues, hasn't it Chris?! Well done you!

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Eric, You are without a doubt correct on that point. The innocence of youth can be sacrificed on the altar of a contemporary concept of successful parenting. It may go something like this, "If my child is insanely busy and stressed out, I must be doing something right." Thanks for reading and for the insightful comment.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I am just struck with the reality that while we change much remains the same. Today we may not have such a ritualistic sacrifice, but in so many ways we still sacrifice the innocence of our youth far too early. Here's to the innocence still left in us.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Ann, you've gotten me to thinking (not an easy thing to do). We've all heard about child suicide bombers, put up to the task by adults of course, who tell the child it is the will of god. What child would think of strapping explosives to themselves and walking into an enemy camp, then blowing themselves and everyone else up. This is possibly a contemporary version of what I have written about.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 22 months ago from SW England

      Not this particular thing, no. I was thinking of the killing of children accused of being 'witches' and, of course, 'honour' killings. Not exactly a religious sacrifice, but close. Nothing to do with your hub of course!

      The fact remains, Chris, that your writing is on the button and focuses the mind.

      Ann

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Ann, I am not aware of this particular thing being done anywhere in the world today. Is it possible that all societies have evolved to a point of leaving this particular horror behind? That would be encouraging in light of many other horrors that still exist. Thank you for reading and for the votes.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Mary, thanks for the comment and for the votes. It is scary to think about what kinds of behaviors and deeds are considered good when done in the name(s) of god(s). We can't see our own atrocities any better than these poor folks could.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 22 months ago from SW England

      Even though I knew something awful was coming, this still made me feel sick. These terrible acts happened (still happen?) in many so-called civilizations, of course, but I can't imagine how the father must have felt, to sacrifice a healthy, usually happy child. Even she felt some foreboding, innocent as she was.

      Unsettling and gut-wrenching; excellent writing emphasising the shock ending.

      Ann

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      Mary Craig 22 months ago from New York

      I had a sick feeling when you said the usual adornments were missing, but I was not sure where you were going. Centuries from now civilization may look down on our current society but we do not act as one. Michelle said it best, "heartbreaking and profound".

      Voted up, awesome, and interesting.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      John, I wanted to hold off the reality of the situation for as long as possible, therefore the opening photograph. I visited Chichen Itza a few years ago and stood by that very stone chamber. It was a chilling experience. Thanks for visiting today.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Thanks for being the first to read and comment Michelle.....and thanks for the title suggestion.

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      John Hansen 22 months ago from Queensland Australia

      I agree with Michelle's comment Chris. Human sacrifice was a tragic practice but these people really believed it appeased the Gods so who are we to judge with all the atrocities mankind is guilty of today. Sad that innocent children were involved though. You had me at the start..I thought it was going to be about child pageantry. Voted up.

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      Michelle 22 months ago

      Heartbreaking and profound.

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