On the Antiquity of Microbes

by Beth

Notes: March challenge, the poem challenge…write a story around a poem…something like that.

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Josiah sat with his Bible in hand, looking out over the dusty lands. He watched as the trees swayed gently in the breeze, the dance of buffalo grass under the sun, and the piercing of birds hunting their pray. The rock he sat on was large, surrounded by dirt, weeds, and stones. It was larger than any of those around him, just large enough for him.

His heart was heavy as thoughts of his past flooded his mind. Memories of war, his sister, the men he’d killed…his father; all bombarding his senses at once. The world around him was old, but changing, bringing with it new ideas and men.

He looked at the Bible, seeing the rough leather, the scared cover, pages that had been torn, and simple writings along the margins. What had it been like in the Garden of Eden? What had Adam been faced with when his son Cane returned after the brutal murder of his brother? What had it been like, being forced from their home…never to return…?

“…Josiah…?” Chris asked, having noticed his attention focused elsewhere. “You all right?” He took a seat next to Josiah, and watched as Vin, Ezra, and Buck bet on whether or not Nathan could jump across the mud hole he was trapped behind.

“You ever think about the past…? The way things might have been if you’d chosen a different path?”

“My thoughts turn to Mexico,” Chris answered honestly, “and wishing I’d come home sooner.”

Josiah nodded in understanding. “I think back on my father and his teachings, he used to tell me how unfortunate it had been for Adam after Eden…”

“Never thought about it.” Chris folded his arms over his chest and watched as JD picked his horse’s right front hoof.

“My father said that Adam was cursed for his sin…for the love of a woman.”

“You’re askin’ the wrong man about that, Josiah.”

“No, Chris, I’m sayin’ that Adam was a brave and gallant individual…knowing what he’d lose, and yet…he willingly gave it away for the love of Eve.”

“For sinnin’…?” Chris looked questionably at him.

“For giving up perfection.” Josiah answered, shaking his head as Ezra collected some money from his comrades when Nathan ended up face down in the mud. “Maybe it’s like a disease that gets passed from parent to child…child to grandchild. A curse of sorts…”

Chris thought about Josiah’s words for a moment and then sighed looking at the gambler. “Don’t think there’s anything that man won’t bet on.”

Josiah laughed, feeling better than he had. “He told me once that he used to bet on lice, durin’ the war—”


He nodded: “Boys didn’t have a lot to do sometimes, so they’d bet… Seems our brother partook in lice racing. See, you put a louse on your tin plate—competing with someone of course—and whoever’s louse made it off their plate first…won.”

Chris chuckled: “He win a lot?”

“Seems Brother Ezra heated his plate before the races.” He laughed and shook his head.

“Why am I not surprised…?” Chris chuckled, feeling somewhat sorry for Nathan as he scrapped mud off his clothing. “Man’s gonna cheat death.”

“Let’s pray he does…pray we all do.”

“What’s got you thinkin’ about Adam and Eve—diseases an’ shit?”

Josiah sighed and looked at everything around him. “Thinking how lucky I am…for the friends I’ve got, the life I’ve lead, and the women I’ve loved.”

“Amen, Josiah, Amen.” Chris slapped him on the shoulder and headed toward the others.

Josiah watched him go, drawing strength from an old story…and a legend.

The End

On the Antiquity of Microbes


--Strickland Gillian
Pack up Your Troubles
Whittlesely House 

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