The stories featured on the site are the winners of Bringing Tacoma’s History to Life: Youth Historical Fiction Competition, a partnership between Write253, Creative Colloquy, the City of Tacoma’s Historic Preservation Office, and the Tacoma Public Library. Each writer responded to one of four prompts included in a new Resource Guide focused on lesser-told stories in Tacoma’s history.
Hi. My name is Josephine, but everybody calls me Josie. I am 11 years old and my favorite color is royal purple. We just got a new puppy named Spot. I know. Not very original, but he is a Dalmatian! I couldn’t help it! Anyway, my daddy told me that I had to train him to “go” outside. So, I did some research in the library and found out that if you use old newspapers to train your dog to “go” on them, you can then put the newspapers outside and get your dog used to that environment. Then you can take the newspapers away altogether and boom (that is a phrase I use – it means “and then suddenly”) you have a trained dog! But it turns out that dogs cannot read the dates on the newspapers after they have been trained to “go” on them. So, guess what Spot did? He did what he was trained to do and “went” on the wrong newspaper. I told him after that the newspaper he “went” on said August 16th, 1916, and that the one he was supposed to go on says August 15th, 1916. I think he took my lesson to heart (or he is just your average, run-of-the-mill dog who can’t read or understand English). But either way, Daddy asked me to get him a new, clean newspaper to read. So I set off for the corner to get a newspaper for Daddy (and a few for Spot).
I stepped out of our car for the last time, breathing in the exhaust as if it were a precious perfume. I could almost feel the tension of the crowded train station and immediately resented the severe-looking white soldier watching me, his gun at the ready.
I turned desperately to Father. “Make them let you come,” I pleaded through the open window. He climbed out of the car and pulled me into his arms.
“Akira, you know I can’t,” he said gently, even though his voice was thick with emotion. I broke down.
“It’s not fair,” I sobbed into his chest, “Isn’t making me leave our home enough, without taking you away from me?” He sighed, stroking my hair.
“War isn’t fair, Akira. The Axis powers are trying to take away our freedom, and we can’t let that happen.” I fingered his uniform.
“But do you have to leave?” I whispered.
“I don’t want to leave, either. I want to stay right here and never walk away from you. But if I do, then my men will have no leader.” He lifted my chin and looked at me. Through my tears I could see him; a man, a warrior – my father. His clean-shaven face rippled with feeling as he studied me. “Akira,” he said quietly, “I know I can always trust you to do what is right, even if it’s what is hardest. You,” he paused, searching for words, “You must always remember and fight for your rights. Regardless of what others may believe, you are an American. We live in a free country, and we need to help keep it that way. I’ll do it by fighting overseas, and you will do it by not giving up.” He wiped the tears from my face with his thumbs. “Congress made a mistake that I pray will never happen again; but even if they failed in their duties, you and I cannot fail in ours.” I nodded.