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Land of the Free: Part Two

by Peter Hoppock

A young man, unsure of his Welsh ancestry—confused by his parent’s evasiveness, and his grandmother’s refusal to share anything personal about her reasons for coming to America—visits Wales and discovers the deceits that formed the foundations of his life. Read Land of the Free: Part 2.


The sun was setting as they rode back up the entrance road to the farmhouse. Douglas breathed in the pungency of the newly turned soil as if it were a harbinger of what was to come. There was now a small sports car parked behind the Toyota; the crate, minus one of its sides, sat empty between the house and the corrugated shed. Emrys greeted them at the front door, holding it open. Squinting against the raw light, and before inviting them in, he gestured with one arm towards the sky behind Gwen and Douglas. The dogs barked, again and again, out of sight.

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Land of the Free

by Peter Hoppock

For the first 20 years of Douglas Williams’ life, his grandmother Mary had been tightlipped about her past—what had brought her to America, what and who she had left behind. During the last week of his last semester of college, Douglas’ father Llewelyn Williams Jr., fearing a downturn in Mary’s health, insisted Douglas join the family at the nursing home that had housed her for the last five years. That evening, after a short visit from a priest during which she insisted she was healthy as ever, she asked about Douglas’ upcoming Army service and if he still expected to be stationed in Europe for a time. When Douglas answered yes, she made this request of him: Please look up my brother-in-law Joseph, who might or might not still be living in Wales. She gave Douglas a photograph of her long-dead husband Llewelyn Williams Sr., noting that she had none of Joseph, but that the two brothers, born a few years apart in age, shared enough features for the photo to be useful. Promise you will do this for me, she insisted. Douglas kissed her on the forehead and promised he would. Mary’s request took everyone by surprise, especially Douglas’ father, himself equally tightlipped about his origins—as if it were a family obligation to bury the past.

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