Note: Previously published on the author’s blog Read It or Not Reviews. To view the original post, click here.
The novel, Nightfall, by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski tells a haunting story of an island where day and night come every fourteen years.
Around the island, night is rapidly falling. The air is becoming colder and the shadows are growing longer. Following tradition and superstition, the villagers are studiously rearranging and a their houses. Traditions must be followed and no one asks why.
Marin helps her parents prepare the house for the long night as they await the arrival of the farriers who will ferry the island’s villagers to the Desert Lands (her mother’s homeland) where night comes every three days. But Kana, Marin’s twin brother, has taken to his room after being plagued by terrifying visions and nightmares.
Every fourteen years, the ferriers would travel to the island and ferry the villagers to the Desert
Lands (Marin and Kana’s mother’s homeland) where night comes every three days.
But when Line–Marin and Kana’s friend–goes missing, they must find him before it’s too late, even if it means endangering their own lives.
The dark will bring your worst nightmares to light in this gripping and eerie survival story, perfect for fans of James Dashner and Neil Gaiman.
On Marin’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours—it comes every twenty-eight years. Now the sun is just a sliver of light on the horizon. The weather is turning cold and the shadows are growing long.
Because sunset triggers the tide to roll out hundreds of miles, the islanders are frantically preparing to sail south, where they will wait out the long Night.
Marin and her twin brother, Kana, help their anxious parents ready the house for departure. Locks must be taken off doors. Furniture must be arranged. Tables must be set. The rituals are puzzling—bizarre, even—but none of the adults in town will discuss why it has to be done this way.
Just as the ships are about to sail, a teenage boy goes missing—the twins’ friend Line. Marin and Kana are the only ones who know the truth about where Line’s gone, and the only way to rescue him is by doing it themselves. But Night is falling. Their island is changing.
And it may already be too late.
For a book that I expected to be more plot-oriented due to its survival-story synopsis, I actually thought that it spent a fair amount of time developing the three protagonists: Marin, Kana, and Line. It was an interesting decision, but despite the extra time taken to develop the characters, I still didn’t end up really connecting or liking any of the characters. Whereas in Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games, I connected to both the protagonist while the suspenseful plot kept me turning the pages.
Overall I think Nightfall had about three major plot twists. I actually figured out two of the three before they were fully revealed. The first had to do with what was happening to Kana as the night was progressing and why it was happening. The second was what the ending would be like, which I really disliked and will explain why later. The third surprise plot twist, which I didn’t think was particularly creative, did nothing to enamor me to Marin and Line, and actually did the opposite.
Nightfall’s ending is my least favorite type of book ending: expected, happy with a tinge of bittersweet, concise, and abrupt–with emphasis on the last. I won’t spoil the ending, but once I read the plot synopsis and saw the book width I had a pretty good idea of how the book would end. My theory was correct and I finished the book feeling unsatisfied and still wanting to find out what happened to the three main characters even if I didn’t really like any of them.
Due to the several aspects I disliked about Nightfall, I’m giving the book 3.5 stars because there were some parts I did like. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy reading books by Neil Gaiman or James Dashner and are looking for books with unique and intriguing premises.
“What time is it?” My brother Chrys, short for Chrysanthemum, wiped the sweat from his brow. For the millionth time, I answered.
“4:08. Now get to work!” I knelt down in the vegetable patch and began yanking out weeds. Every Saturday of my supposed-to-be-perfect summer vacation has been spent weeding the vegetable patch. My mom is the only one still fresh as a daisy after gardening for 3 hours. She runs Blossoms and Buds, a flower shop down on Main Street. Chrys and I were stuck working in a patch of dirt, which the scorching summer sun made the Sahara feel tame. “I think that tomato plant is ready to be picked, so hurry up.”
“When’d you get so bossy?” Chrys grumbled. But he got to work, snipping away at the juicy, plump tomatoes.
“I think we’ll have a salad by tomorrow!” My mother trilled from across the lawn. “Fresh from the garden. Should we invite the Schmidts for lunch? We could buy a carrot cake…” My mom trailed off, deep in thought. Our neighbors, the Schmidts, are always ready to get out of the house and go, go, go! I swear I saw four pairs of running shoes in the coat closet last time I walked their dog, Sammy.
“I’m not sure, Mom. Remember? We have to go to my eighth grade picnic by Lilliac Creek.” My older sister, Azalea, flipped her perfect auburn brown hair. “Do Ivy and Chrys have to come? I mean, the pair of them are just so immature.” My entire family is named after plants, but Azalea is definitely the prettiest. My mom, Daisy, frowned.
“Next week, then?” Just then, my mother’s phone rang.
“What?! But it’s Izzy’s picnic tomorrow.” Pause. “Well, that is serious. I suppose Ivy could manage for a few hours. Wednesday? Okay. Thanks, Linda.” Now I knew who she was talking to. Linda was Mom’s assistant in the store. She’s kind of old, but she has a super green thumb. “Linda just said that her daughter broke her hip. She has to watch her grandchildren while her daughter has surgery.” Turning to me, she smiled heavily. “Ivy will have to manage the shop because of Izzy’s lunch.”
“What?! Why can’t Dad do it?” I complained. I had never really inherited my mom’s love of flowers like Azalea and Chrys.
“I’m leaving for Denver tomorrow evening. And I haven’t even packed!” My dad’s rumbling laugh eased some of the nerves I was having.
“Will Chrys be there with me?” My brother shook his head.
“Sorry, Poison Ivy. Looks like you’ll have to ask your other venomous friends. “ My brother chuckled at his lame joke.
“Actually, that’s a good idea, Chrys. Ivy can manage the cash register and talk to customers while you can get a head start unloading the new shipment we got.” Mom clapped her hands excitedly. “Let’s get prepared!”
“Bye, Ivy!” My older sister sang on her way to the car. “I’m sure you’ll have a great time amongst your flower friends!” I rolled my eyes. Azalea could be so annoying!
“You have your phone if you need it. It’ll be fine.” My mother’s easy attitude was almost contagious. I turned around to walk back into Blossoms and Buds. Before fifteen minutes had passed, a large group came in. The sweet tinkle of our flower bells alerted me, and I tried to look confident.
“Hello! My name is Ivy Greene, and-” I was interrupted by the guffaws of the group.
“Ivy Green? What else could she be, Ivy Red?” A short lady in the back looked at me. “Come now, Ivy. I need flowers for my pooch’s party. Only the best for Fifi!” A tiny dog who I hadn’t noticed before peered out of the woman’s large bag.
“Why, we have the perfect flower for you, miss. A dogwood!” Chrys chuckled at his joke. But the lady seemed to take him seriously!
“I didn’t know you were such a great salesman, Chrys!” I whispered to him as the lady inspected the flower.
“Hmph. Why don’t we throw in a couple violets, Agatha?” A tall, skinny man looked down upon the flowers with a careful eye.
“Oh, that’ll be perfect, Fernando!” The lady, Agatha, was practically dancing. But Chrys looked nervous.
“We’re out of violets, Ivy!” Chrys whispered. I looked around the shop frantically.
“Uh, what about instead of violets, we try sweet peas?” I showed Agatha my
“Perfect! Show me to the counter.” Uh-oh! I forgot how to use the credit card swiper.
I practically thrust the bulky machine at Agatha.
“Thank you!” Tinkling flower bells rung through the air. “Whew!”
“Okay, now it’s time to make deliveries. We’ll close shop for a while, maybe two hours, while delivering flowers. I’ll take the East Side of town, you take the West.” I handed my brother a list of names. “You should know their addresses. If you don’t, give me a call. Don’t be late, and do things in order. Got it?” I was incredibly nervous about making the rounds. Blossoms and Buds is famous for being the only florist shop in the area that delivers riding a turquoise, specially made bicycle (another of Mom’s crazy ideas).
“Yeah, I got it. Listen, who’s Charlie Reddings?”
“He’s that old man who owns the hardware store. Let’s get going!” I attached two small trailers to the bikes. “Bye!”
“Adios!” My brother waved as he pedaled off.
“Let’s see, Arabella Jester.” I murmured to myself, looking over the long list taped to my front handlebars. “She lives on Prudence Lane, just like Mary Hutchinson.” I pushed hard on the pedals, speeding away.
“Why, hello! We haven’ seen ya’ll in a long time. Bella is tending to little Tyson, now, but I can take those flowers.” Mrs. Jester never failed to amuse me with her Southern drawl. And yes, her daughter, Arabella, is an actual Southern belle!
“They’re hibiscus, just so you know. Would you like me to place them inside for you?”
“That’d be fine, darlin’. I think the livin’ room’ll do.” I placed the flowers in a small vase on the counter. Unfortunately, one of baby Tyson’s toys was on the floor. I bounced on the ball, dropped the vase, and stumbled right into Arabella, who was carrying Tyson! She dropped him before skidding backward, and I just barely caught him in time.
“Why, thank you for savin’ my baby! I don’t know what I’d’ve done if y’all weren’t’ there. Come here, little guy.” I handed Tyson over to Arabella, relieved to pass on the duty of carrying the baby.
“Of course, Arabella. It was nothing.” Contrary to my words, my heart was pounding. What if I had dropped little Tyson? That would’ve been awful! I waved at the family before walking across the road to Mary’s home. I knew who these flowers were for: Mary’s older brother’s new wife.
“Good afternoon, Miss Ivy. Come in,” Mary’s old fashioned grandfather ushered me into the living room.
“I brought the flowers Mary ordered for Charlie’s new wife. I’d really love to stay, Uncle Ernest, but I have precisely eleven more deliveries to make. I must get going.” I handed him the flowers and attempted a graceful exit.
“Ivy!” Mary zipped down the banister, even though she was in her late teen years. She knocked into me, tipped over a glass table ornament, and caused me to drop the flower crate I was holding right onto Uncle Ernest’s toe!
“MARIA JANE HUTCHINSON!” I winced as the man bellowed.
“Sorry, Grandfather. I’ll help you out there. Bye, Ivy. I wish we could hang out some more.” Mary gave a little wave and accepted the crate.
“I’m so sorry,” I said as I slipped out the door. How many more accidents would I cause?
Thankfully, the next five deliveries went fine. The customers weren’t home, so I didn’t have a chance to trigger any accidents. Instead, I placed the crate outside the door in a special crevice, leaving the family a note as to where their delivery is. I crossed my fingers that my small stroke of luck would hold as I pedaled to Saige Parker’s small home.
“Who is it?” A quiet voice broke the peaceful atmosphere around the house.
“Ivy Greene, with a delivery for Saige Parker. Is she home?”
“Come in.” Saige had clear blue eyes and reddish brown hair. She accepted the beautiful orchids with a small smile. “Thank you. Would you like some tea?” I eagerly nodded. My friends called me a “Passion Fruit ‘addict’” but really, I love any kind of non-caffeinated tea.
“Mmm! It’s delicious. What do you call it?” Saige smiled, bigger this time.
“It’s lotus tea spiced up with a dot of rosemary. My dream is to own a tea shop called Saige’s Tea and Sweets down on Main Street. I’ve already made an offer on the Blossoms and Buds land. I really hope the lady accepts it.” My mouth went dry. Mom was selling Blossoms and Buds? That’s practically where Azalea and I grew up.
“Huh? Oh. Yeah, um, I really, um, hope you get the space!” I slunk out the door and began stabbing at my cell phone.
“Chrys! Mom is thinking of selling Blossoms and Buds. We have to head back to the shop. Meet me there in five.”
Sitting in front of the office computer, I punched in the computer code, V-I-O-L-E-T. Once the machine connected to the Internet, I furiously typed in our bank’s name. “Do you know the account password?”
“I think it’s Dewdrop. After the rains, Mom always checks the bank.”
“Yes! We’re in. It says that Blossoms and Buds makes 35,000 dollars a year. That’s not that much, considering that it says here Mom spends 27,500 on new flowers. And sometimes more if there’s a new trend. We have to make some money, or Mom will sell the place to Saige!”
“I’ll finish making the deliveries, you come up with a plan. Okay?” Chrys rushed out the door before I could utter a word.
“Let’s see. Good money making strategies for kids,” I typed into the search bar. “Hey, this idea would be perfect!” I dialed Chrys, murmuring into the phone. “So do you have any?” I asked.
“Plenty. I’m almost done with the deliveries, so why don’t you start searching?” Chrys hung up, yet again before I could utter a word. I sighed and began pulling out clothes that were too small for me. Just then, the doorbell rang. I quickly logged out of the computer and unlocked the door.
“Hello, Mom! How was the picnic?” I said in a overly cheerful voice.
“Oh, it was great. I’m in Mr. Grey’s math class and Ms. Lorenzo’s gym!” Azalea pushed through the doorway. “Where’s Chrys?”
“Um, er, he’s, um… finishing up his deliveries!” I smiled widely, scared on the inside.
“Can you call him? We need to have a family meeting.” Mom suddenly looked haggard and sad. I had a feeling our meeting was going to be about Blossoms and Buds’ money situation. I gulped as Chrys came through the doorway.
“You called?” he asked.
“Actually, Mom wanted us to have a family meeting. It’s probably going to be about the store, you know, um, closing.” I choked out the news and had to be patted on the back to calm down.
“You all deserve to know that Blossoms and Buds is not making enough money to stay in business.” Shocked gasps from Azalea and Dad counterbalanced the fake ones from Chrys and me. “We are behind on our employee salaries, and we owe the flower suppliers hundreds of dollars. If we’re going to get over this crisis, we’ll need to make at least 9,086 dollars.” Mom rested her head in her hands.
“Well, Ivy and I were planning to sell all our clothes that are too small and the ones that we don’t wear. Why doesn’t everyone in the family do the same?” Chrys looked around the table. Everyone nodded enthusiastically.
“And we can put something up at Chrys’ school auction! Like two days’ worth of organic meals.” Everyone looked at Azalea, surprised she was being so optimistic. “What?” She asked.
“It’s just a nice change to hear you being positive.” I said.
“Okay. Let’s get to work!” Dad grinned with hope.
Next morning, we had collected and priced all our old clothes. Azalea had emailed Chrys’ principal, asking him if they would accept her organic meal idea in the auction with such late notice. He had responded almost instantly with, “Fantastic idea! Go right ahead!” Since then, she had been experimenting nonstop with different dishes. My personal favorite was a dessert made from strawberries, blueberries, and this special organic chocolate.
“Hi! This is Ivy. I called yesterday to see if you’d like to buy some clothes for Tyson. After all, he’s growing fast!” I couldn’t wait to see if Arabella wanted some of Chrys’ old clothes for Tyson. “Sure! The total price will be $23. I’ll be right over!” Arabella hung up and I put three long sleeved shirts and one pair of toddler jeans in a brown bag. “I’m heading to Arabella’s, Mom!”
“Take your phone with you, hon.” I nodded and slipped out the garage.
“Why, hello again, darlin’!” Mrs. Jester opened the door to the cottage for the second time in two days. “Arabella has a small box waitin’ for those lovely clothes.”
“Thank you so much for your support, Arabella. It’s the customers like you who are helping save our business.” Mom and I had rehearsed this sentimental line thousands of times, and it seemed to work on Arabella.
“Here’s some extra money, 35 dollars. It’s a donation.” Arabella was obviously trying to stop her Southern accent, and I almost laughed out loud.
“Thank you so much! Bye!” I skipped down the steps, 58 dollars in my hand.
“Azalea?” I peered into the kitchen. “I picked some tomatoes and bought that organic pasta.”
“Thanks, Ivy. Want to help? Just boil some water for ten minutes, and add that pasta. I’ll help after that.” Azalea pushed away a curl that had escaped from her messy bun.
“Really? I’d love to!” I found a good stainless steel pot (it literally said, “This is a quality stainless steel product!” on the inside) and filled it three-quarters full with water. I tapped the small circle on our stove twice, and the hot top warmed up quickly. “Should I add the pasta now?” I asked after a few minutes of watching the pot boil.
“Sure. There’s some cilantro on the shelf. Cut that up and put it to the side, and then start simmering the tomatoes at medium heat.”
“Okay.” I followed her directions and turned down the heat on the pasta. “Should I put the pasta in a nice bowl?”
“Actually, I’m trying out this new recipe. Basically, after draining water – without rinsing! – you add the tomato sauce and cilantro while the pasta is hot and keep mixing it in the pot. Everything becomes warm and toasty that way.” Azalea clicked a few times on her pink laptop and jotted down a few notes. “The pasta will be the fourth meal of seven that’ll be on Chrys’ school auction.”
“Cool. Can I help with the other three?”
“Of course you can! Come back to the kitchen in 50 minutes, when the sauce will be ready and we can start on the next dish. They need to be ready by tomorrow!”
I pulled up the soft white covers on my bed and yanked the light cord. Together, Azalea and I had prepared pasta, salad, French toast, and chocolate fondue. Everything was wrapped in plastic food wrap and looked perfect. I couldn’t wait to see who would be the lucky eater of those yummy dishes.
“Chrys! What happened?!” When I had come down the stairs four minutes ago, Chrys was sitting in the middle of a food disaster. Apparently, when Chrys had come downstairs, he had crashed into the table, knocking several auction items on the floor. Strangely, the four dishes I had helped make were the only ones remaining on the table, safe from disaster. Azalea, sobbing and crying, shook with shock and anger. I hugged her and scolded Chrys. Fortunately, Mom was upstairs sleeping in ignorance, and Dad was away in Denver.
“I can help remake everything,” Chrys offered. Azalea shook her head.
“Those dishes cost a lot to make.” Azalea groaned, “We’ll have to change our auction item to ‘Four Organic Dishes.’” I crossed the kitchen over to hug her.
“If we eat one dish, we can change our auction item to ‘The Three Dishes! You know, like the Three Musketeers. ” I tried to crack a feeble joke in order to lift everyone’s spirits.
“It’s okay.” Mom appeared on the stairs, looking forlorn in her white nightgown. “There was no way we could’ve saved the shop anyway. Saige had already bought it last night, but I didn’t want to tell you.”
“What?!” Azalea, Chrys, and I said together.
“The store is our home! You can’t do that!” Chrys looked like he was about to explode. “If Saige turns our home into some lame tea and biscuit café, you’ll have destroyed our family history loving memories!” Azalea and I looked at him weirdly. “Ugh, you know what I mean!” Chrys groaned.
“What Chrys means to say is, we’ve grown up in Blossoms and Buds. It’s like rearranging our bedrooms after we leave high school.” Azalea’s sorrowful eyes made me turn away. Suddenly, the doorbell chimed happily.
“Hello!” Saige smiled, but looked shocked when she saw all of our faces. “I didn’t realize you were the owner of Blossoms and Buds, Ivy or I wouldn’t have dropped such a bombshell on you like that. I do want to apologize for the shock I gave you. Actually, I have an idea. What if we start a business together called Tea & Blossoms. It’ll be like a tea shop café that sells flowers!” It could become a destination for wedding planners and brides!
“Really? You’d do that?” Mom’s face lit up for the first time in days.
Saige nodded, “I realized that a tea shop alone wouldn’t be all that profitable by itself. Together, though, we’ll make tons!”
“Wow! Thanks, Saige. I’m so happy, I could twirl!” laughing with my new friend, I let my imagination go wild.
A few months later, I pushed open the door to Tea & Blossoms. Customers lined up at both counters, manned by Saige and Linda. Mom stood off to the side, chatting with some wedding planners. The fresh smell of wood still lingered even though it had been a month since the place had been remodeled. I spotted my best friend Chelsea’s mom standing in the corner with a few other parents from school. I was thankful for the happiness that the new store had helped bring. Azalea, Chrys, and I were now getting along, and Mom and I had talked. She understood that plants weren’t my first love, but she was glad that I enjoyed being behind Saige’s counter. Overall, the shock that the first few weeks of summer had given me wore off by October.
To view Tragedy Awaits: The Diary of Elizabeth Hope Kebble–Part 1 and Part 2 by E.J. Aire, click here.
A dreadful tuberculosis epidemic has swept through New England. We cower inside, careful not to go out, lest we catch the horrid sickness.
Your fearful friend,
It has been so long since I have written to you! The tuberculosis I mentioned in my last entry is long over. The new matron of the orphanage, Ms. Fryd, is a Danish joy. She is so happy that we have willingly gone to the orphanage. Lillian gets a bed, food, and an education! I am twenty-one years of age, and I am spinning wool and making cloth. Katherine and I live at the orphanage as helpers to Ms. Fryd, as we cannot find any other place to stay. Britain, the horrid place, has put taxes on so many things, so many that I cannot name all of them. I hold a special place in my heart for the imaginary gravestone of Mother, Father, and Anne. Assuming that Anne isn’t alive, of course. Twas eleven years ago that she sailed off. She would be in her fourth decade, so I do not think her to be alive. Lillian is eleven now, and Katherine twenty-seven. We bring her up under the thoughts of the surviving Kebbles. We are living happily. I do still remember why I named this diary Tragedy Awaits, though. Tragedy awaited, pounced, and passed. We are all together, and I remind Katherine and Lillian of Mother, Father and Anne, and we all pray to them. We are all together now, and life is good. La vie est belle, as Mademoiselle Bella would say. She is the little French girl, orphaned as well. Only she had her nun family cruelly torn from her. She has been orphaned twice, by first her family and then the nuns. She is a petit soleil, a little sun, shining her happiness down upon us flowers, us fleurs. I could not be happier.
❀Elizabeth Hope Kebble
Today a new arrival was brought to us at the orphanage. Imagine our surprise when it was none other than Mary Patrimonio, the late Mrs. Fisgon’s granddaughter! Rumor has it that she is just as bad as her heritage, i.e. a Brobdingnagian S-N-O-O-P! In the wee morning hours I nearly cried with laughter at the coincidence, I mean, what are the chances of a granddaughter of a ‘pillar’ of society landing in the orphanage. Pillar, my eye. Belle is playing with a doll by Bebe Soleil, an exquisite French marvel with eyelids that shut when the doll, named Marie Grace is laid down. When I was eight, the only doll I had was a mish mosh of fabric scraps with Mother’s fine embroidery. This doll, Marie Grace, has porcelain hands, feet, and head. There are details, and real hair. How she got it, I don’t know.
❀E. H. K.
I have found a job! I am to embroider pieces of fabric to be made into women’s accessories! I shall write down the design so I shan’t forget it: ☼⚜⚘⚜☼⚜⚘⚜☼ over and over again. I shall sit right after a woman weaving it, as I will do the first row, Jenny shall do the second, and Nancy shall do the third. Oh, such a boring pattern, but I will earn $3 per week! I will save until I can get my own home! ‘Tis a great joy, as Katherine is the one weaving the cloth! Lillian is the one to fold the cloth, so now we all have jobs. If we each save the $3 that we get each week, we will have $9 per week. It is not much, but if we live at the orphanage until we can buy a small shack, then we can save, then live on our own.
❀ The Ever Hopeful Kebble
We have been saving our money each week for the past two months, and we have $72 now! We will need $147 to buy the shack, so we are still at the orphanage. It is one of the new buildings, on the outskirts of town where it used to be wild stretches of untouched forests, back when I was twelve.The good thing is that we have reserved a shack, and it comes with furniture, so we needn’t worry about beds and such. It gives me great hope to think that we could live on our own, and we won’t have to conform to the orphanage ways. Not that they’re bad, just strict. Once we have our home, one of us may need to find another job, like catching fish in the river that runs along the back of the woods. I do wonder if Anne survived, and is wondering what we are doing. Perhaps…no, no, no, not that.
I have found a job carrying water around to workers on the new pier. They are working tirelessly, pounding nails in to wood all day long, from sunup to sundown. It pays well, as I must lower water on a pulley and haul the empty jug back up. With this job I earn twice as much as at the cloth factory, $6 per week. I have made calculations, and found that we will be able to buy our shack in two or three more weeks. I am ecstatic because we will be out of this orphanage very soon, very soon indeed. We came to the orphanage nearly two years ago, as we celebrated the two year anniversary of the reform of the orphanage with the arrival of Ms. Fryd.
Your ever faithful friend for 13 years,
I’m sorry that I haven’t written for a few weeks, but I have been busy buying the shack and food, as we now have quite enough money so that we shall never again be in such a desolate situation as we were for a few years. We have bid fond farewells to Ms. Frye and Bella, and we promised to come back to the orphanage to help Ms. Frye and her helpers run the orphanage. Now that Lillian is 13 years of age, she can help us. ‘Twas 13 years ago that Anne, Mother, and Father left us. I should like to say that we have managed well since then, as we are no longer in the orphanage, and we need not worry about food, or fresh water, as there is a beautifully clean, sparkling well barely a meter from the back door. Katherine will soon move out, because, had she grown up in a regular household, with parents and all of that, she would have found love and moved out a decade or more ago. Because Lillian has grown up around parentless children, she does not know who or even what parents are. I explained to her that parents are her comfort, her roof, her protection, her lifeline. I then told her, for the first time, of the tragic story of Mother and Father, and that of Anne. She then said, “So does that mean that I have no parents?” in a worried little tone so unlike herself. I must confess that I did not quite know what to say at that moment, except to confirm her thoughts. Oh, what a sorrowful mistake that was! Now she is going to the courthouse every day, for hours at a time, to try and look up birth and death records. Well, she won’t find any, because we did not tell the officials about Mother, Father, and Anne, because we did not want to go to the orphanage when it had that awful matron, and we hid during the outbreak of tuberculosis. I must go out and sneak down to confess of their deaths. November 15, Father, 16, Mother, and 17, Anne. I know not of Anne’s exact deathday, but we shall say that it was November 17th. Such three quick, rapid fire deaths, and in just two days, we were orphans, three days we were reduced from five to three.
I must go to the courthouse.
The record person took down each of the names, birth and death dates. I shall inscribe them below, so that I may remember. Also, she said that there might be a complimentary memorial for them, but I would have to submit a form. ‘Twould be easy, for I can write, read, and I know all of the dates.
~Jessica Elizabeth Abbotson Kebble, born on May 30th, 1719, died November 16th, 1763
~Edward James Kebble, born on October 9th, 1715, died November 15th, 1763
~Anne Sofia Kebble, born on March 15th, 1743, died November 17th, 1763
~Katherine Agnes Kebble, born on March 16th, 1748,
~Elizabeth Hope Kebble, born on March 17th, 1751,
~Lillian Joan Kebble, born March 19th, 1761,
There. Now I shall have a record and I can give it to the stonemason to create the headstone. I should think it to look something like this:
Or perhaps is will be individual stones. One thing’s ascertained:There will be a stone, yes, no bodies, but a stone nonetheless. If I should die, I would like to be buried with a single, perfect calla lily. Like so: , but pure white melding into pale green, with deepest green leaves, and perfect yellow in the center with a smattering of yellow at the heart of the lily. Enough of this depressing stuff.
I will go out to the docks now, and sit over the water, the chilly, black water with snow blowing about, for it is here in Concord, Massachusetts so of course it’s snowing.
~Elizabeth Hope Kebble, 25 years old
I have become quite the artist. For the better part of the hour I sketched a boat. ‘Twas a simple fishing boat, but quite hard to draw. I didn’t bother to do shadow, just simple linear drawings. Here is a copy of it:
A miniature, rough sketch, but it captures the idea quite well. Oh dear, Lillian is calling. Something about fire?
Well, that does it! Lillian was smoking cod over the open fire, when an ember spilled out onto the wooden floor. She managed to toss a bit of water on it, but the floor is scorched and crumbling a bit. I will have to cut out the plank and replace it. I need to go down to Sam’s Hardware and Feed Store to get a new plank and some nails. As I was walking down Main Street, I noticed how well the United states of America is faring, as a new country and everything. There are lots of shops, and the former, surviving soldiers, unlike Father, have become farmers, and there are barely any poor begging on the streets. Orphans like us are finding jobs and can live independently. ‘Tis quite a lot of progress. Then, I think of dear England, with it’s long and rich history, and the king, and the history of parliament, and I sigh.
Look at this poem I made for you. I know that you are merely a figment of my imagination, but, oh, to have one to pour one’s heart out to, such a feeling!
Cloud drifts in and out
in flying fantasy I
Think of all the good
It’s a haiku. Before moving to the United states of America, we learned in cotillion of popular little tea parties in Japan where they sit on bamboo mats under the flowers and wear lovely flowing dresses. I should like to do that, to not be confined to the frills of traditional clothing. It’s a shame that we wear such confining garments that the most fun one has is rolling a piece of wood with another piece of wood at a snail’s pace. I shall draw what I would like to wear.
Perhaps in a beautiful embroidered silk cloth with little birds and flowers on it. I don’t know.
I am at the second to last page of the book. Tomorrow, I shall write my last entry to you. I should feel so desolate without you, and I recently bought a new book of paper, 14 pages, like you. In that book I will be writing to Sun. In the thirteen years that I have been writing to you, I wrote of 5 deaths, a tuberculosis outbreak, the formation of a new country, rising out of poverty, and so much more! I don’t know why I decided to write, but ‘tis ascertained that I enjoy it. I am so sad, for Katherine moved out, and Lillian is going to school, so I have only you to talk to, and I cannot hear another being speak save for breakfast and supper. I have grown ever so much since I was twelve, and now I am 25 years old. I love to look back at my old writing and see my sorrow, for Katherine and I were barely old enough to run a household and take care of Lillian.
I have gotten to the end of this book of paper, and to the beginning of a new chapter (hopefully a happier chapter) with Sun. Goodbye dear Cloud, I shall miss writing to you of all of my sorrow, and you accepting it and all of the long evenings with you. It is in you I recorded 5 deaths, and several turning points in my life. I should hope that we can talk again, perhaps after Sun. Parting is such a sweet sorrow, bittersweet, like the taste of chocolate I once had when I was 9 years old. I cannot believe that I survived a tuberculosis epidemic, a triple bereavement. It’s almost midnight, yet I am up, my candle burning bright, pen scratching across paper, a million thoughts swirling about my head, like a million fish and I can only catch one at a time, and remember more to write down. I hear my little sister’s gentle breathing, and see the glowing embers in the stove. It’s winter, and cold, and cloudy, snowflakes gently blowing across the full moon. I must go to sleep now. I will miss you, long nights of sorrow, bitterness, but I will end on a good note. I could not be happier where I am now, so I will say my final goodbye.
Your friend, everything like that,
❀Elizabeth Hope Kebble❀
To close a book is to close a world.
The world goes flat and folds
Characters stuck between the pages.
Screaming silently, as loud as they can
No one hears them
No one can
You can’t close an e-book because they’re always closed
The characters are forever trapped
You can slip a tablet in your pocket
Hide the cover, hide the characters.
You can’t hide a book
To open a book is to fall
Fall into a world unto itself,
Words raining down upon the pages
Laying themselves on the paper to form a story
A tale of characters that will not be left asleep
Forever bound by the tomes that create them
Why are you holding that book? It’s time to leave.
I know it’s time to leave.
I’m taking them with me.
The characters, sir.
The characters hidden in between the pages