Tragedy Awaits: The Diary of Elizabeth Hope Kebble–Part 3 by E.J. Aire

To view Tragedy Awaits: The Diary of Elizabeth Hope Kebble–Part 1 and Part 2 by E.J. Aire, click here.

Dear Cloud,

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,
Elizabeth


1774

Dear Cloud,

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


Dear Cloud,

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.


Dear Cloud,

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


Dear Cloud,

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.

❀E.H.K.


Dear Cloud,

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,

❀Elizabeth


Dear Cloud,

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.

~Elizabeth


Dear Cloud,

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


Dear Cloud,

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?

Must go.

Ella


Later

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.

Goodbye,

Ella


Dear Cloud,

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.

~Ella


Dear Cloud,

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.


Dear Cloud,

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❀

Characters by E.J. Aire

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.
Taking whom?
The characters, sir.
The characters hidden in between the pages

Tragedy Awaits: The Diary of Elizabeth Hope Kebble–Part 2 by E.J. Aire

To view Tragedy Awaits: The Diary of Elizabeth Hope Kebble–Part 1 by E.J. Aire, click here.

Later

Ghastly news. The ship Queen Anne, funnily enough, had already taken off, and would not be back, unless trouble arose close to our shores. Perhaps she is doing what Mother did, willingly walking–or sailing– to death. I shall pray to the patron saint of traveling, Saint Christophe-de-Valains, and to the patron saint of England, Saint George. I shall pray for Anne’s health, and for a home in England.

Yours most faithfully, E. Hope K.


Dear Cloud,

I was seen walking to church by myself by none other than the nosy Mrs. Fisgon. She of course asked why I was alone, and I politely yet curtly said, “ Tis none of your business as to why I am alone. Perhaps I am the first to voice it, but many others think of it, or say it when you, thankfully, are not around. Perhaps you being the biggest snoop in New England is the reason why many people turn mute around you. Thank you, and have a nice, snoop-free day.” Well, that really got to Mrs. Fisgon. She spluttered and stuttered and her face was bright red (she is a Bunyanesque woman) until she ran off, jiggling like the gelatin Mother used to make from old bones of the butcher’s. Twas a sight to see, as half the town was silently doubling over with laughter on their porches. I almost felt bad for her. Almost.

❀Ella


Dear Cloud,

Today Mrs. Fisgon came out when I was walking to the Saturday Fishmonger’s Market to buy some cod. That Brobdingnagian excuse for a woman was standing outside, shaking her fist at me. ‘Twas a sight to see, as she was wearing a rather tight ballgown so poofy with frills and shirring that it made her look like the pom-pom tassels on our old winter hats. She was wearing the matching hat, and had just washed herself, so she was a wet, shaking, red pom-pom. I nearly cried with laughter, and bought some salmon to go with the rye bread and half-butter half-cream mixture that was the butter, as we scarcely had enough time to milk the cows, let alone churn the butter. I took a piece of hot wood from the dying embers and roasted the salmon on that, then put it on a slab of bread and poured butter over it all, which promptly melted. Tis the first real meal since Anne left; till now we had been surviving on the occasional piece of bread, and lots of Cambric tea, tea with milk added. It helps to save tea, as nearly three quarters of Cambric tea is actually milk. So it should be called Cambric milk. Katherine is calling for me to go to sleep now, her actual words being “Time to set off to the sweet Shores of Sleep, Ella. Good night.” Oh, my candle stub is nearly out! Tomorrow I shall scrape the wax off of the dish I use to hold the candle, and melt it down into a new candle. This way nothing is wasted.

Your Laughing Friend, Elizabeth


 

Dear Cloud,

I am in a rush today. We are all to go out for a treat: the town green! We can play hoops there, and laugh and have a good time, like before the Great Tragedy. That is what I am calling the series of death. Oh, I chuckle at the fact that Katherine is threatening to leave without me! Anyone know a baby could walk there by herself!

Goodbye now, Ella


Dear Cloud,

We had a most joyous time rolling the hoops about. Lillian is growing, but she can still fit through the little hoops. It reminds me of how she will never truly know Mother, Father, or Anne. It makes me sad to think of never knowing your parents or your eldest sister. At least I knew them for eleven years, Lillian only knew them for two years. She is but a little, wailing, moaning toddler, and lest I remind her of the deceased when she is older she will only look at me strangely. Tis sad indeed.

Yours forever, Elizabeth


 

Dear Cloud,

Today there was a mysterious package at our doorstep. It was fastidiously yet tightly wrapped. It smelled of day old milk. When at last the last bit of wax and string was broken, there was a surprise like never before. Inside the package was a tiny baby! Whimpering like it had never had food, Katherine’s heart relaxed, and she took the baby inside, then placed a rag wet with milk in it’s mouth. We are to take it to the orphanage tomorrow.

Surprised?
~Ella


 

Dear Cloud,

The matron of the orphanage has joined Mother, Father, and Anne with the angels. Ergo, she died. Her daughter has taken over, and rumor has it that she is just as sour as her mother, the late Mrs. Surion. The nameless baby is out of our care.

-Ella

The Clue in the Mysterious but Otherwise Unimportant Paper by E.J. Aire

(The Thursday, March Twelfth, 2020 Verte de Ville Times, top of page L12, 1st article)

Prologue

Late at night (1:13 am, according to the security camera) ,  a masked thief crept into the prestigious Tolstevsky museum and stole one of the seven wonders of the modernized natural world… no one knew who he was, no one knew what he stole until the next day, his sidekick knocked over a Greek vase, which shattered, but they remained unidentified…

Elizabeth Aire walked in the only park in the small town of Wodloow, in the state of Forntheld, and on the coast of Verte de Ville. Verte de Ville was named for the abundance of beautiful foliage the small country held, like the elegant purple flowers that perfectly conformed to the Golden Ratio, most of which had only been discovered in the past few years, 2017-2020. The crisp morning air smelled clean and full of possibility in March, when it had been raining almost nonstop since the beginning of December. Now, as it was nearing the middle of March, only light showers with rainbows sprinkled the air. Elizabeth thought that the best part was how the lavender was coming up and the bees were coming out.

“Elizabeth!” called Kay Elle Mlinkle, her best friend. Elizabeth hurried to the sound of her voice, the rain misting them more than a little bit now.  Her umbrella opened with a swoosh and a click, then expanded to cover her. Suddenly she stumbled. A laugh rang out, then a quick apology.

“Where are you? I can’t see where you are!” shouted Elizabeth

“Over here! Underground–I’m staying here until SM5 calms down. She went hysteric when I showed her my pet capybara,” yelled Kay Elle. All this time Elizabeth was walking towards the sound. She then saw an inconspicuous wooden cover, painted to look like a big sewer cover. Elizabeth quickly ducked under it and fell into an underground home. It had a bed, fireplace, and a cupboard of food. It’s walls were just big panels of wood cemented to the earthen walls, and painted a sunny yellow. It was all the handiwork of Kay Elle, a carpenter at heart. “I believe I’ll stay here for a while.”

“You know that you can always stay with us. I’m sure that my parents would let you,” said Elizabeth.

“I don’t believe so. I think that I’ll just stay here for a bit, just long enough for my father to quit paying attention to those horrid people, and look out for me a bit,” Her tone grew wearier with every syllable. She looked up, and Elizabeth was certain that there were tears glistening sadly in her eyes.

“Look, I found a note in between the boards of a bench in the park. It looks like a series of text messages that was printed out. You know about how the 39 Gem Geode was stolen from the Tolstevsky?” All Kay Elle could manage was a weak nod. “These people are talking about where it’s hiding. They didn’t bother to camouflage where they were texting from, but guess what?”

“What?” mumbled Kay Elle, clearly emotionally and physically tired.

“It turns out that they were in downtown Wodloow! Right where we are! I want to go look for it. Er, um, do you wish to go too, I mean, with the evil ladies, and your dad, and all of that, and the fact that you’re living underground in the park, would you be able to do it?”

“Are you CRAZY? Of course I want to do it! You know that I love a good mystery just as much as you do, though I do tend to read less about them. Let’s go!”

The next day they caught a bus to the Tolstevsky, which was amazingly open, even though it was only the day after the robbery. They gazed in awe at the gargantuan metal structure, with it’s tiny details that caught your attention, like the little seats built into the side of the building, big enough to sit on and eat on the table that pulled out from the wall, and the check in stations that looked like perfect miniatures of the Tolstevsky, complete with tiny dolls sitting on the seats. Then they decided that they didn’t need to go there, and started trying to figure out what the text said.

“Bank perch. What is that supposed to mean? At the banker’s favorite place, or favorite perch? How would we know where that is, though? Perhaps we ought to go to the bank and take a survey.” said Elizabeth. Presently they went to the bank, asked all 14 of the bankers their favorite place to hang out with the other bankers, and found that the popular Eclipse Café was the spot that all of the bankers held their weekly meetings. Having found out what the ‘bank perch’ was, they went back to Kay Elle’s makeshift house and discussed what to do.

“I think that we should go to Eclipse Café and investigate whether or not someone has come in and tried to inconspicuously hide something,” said Kay Elle

“Sorry, but do you really think that Ellen will respond kindly? You saw that article in the newspaper about how she was named Meanest Café Worker, right?”

“Yeah, but…”

“She’s a criminal. Do you really think that she wants to help us fight crime?”

Kay Elle had to concede that it wasn’t the best plan. “Well, then what if we don’t ask Ellen, but one of the others? Maybe they’ll be more willing to help.”

“They all have to report back to Ellen. She’s like a Lady Voldemorta, with complete power over her employees.” Elizabeth read a lot of books, and had read the Harry Potter series several times, resulting in lots of literary connections, like when she said that an unnecessarily mean teacher was like Mr. Brocklehurst from  Jane Eyre. “Here, to take you mind off of that mean person, a newspaper article.” She inhaled sharply as she saw the headline, seeming to grow six inches, then she slowly let her breath out, reverting to her original height. “It’s about the thievery, and look! The article is about the thievery of the geode, and it has notes on it saying where to go to find it.” Indeed, it did have markings on it, like a crude map. Elizabeth laid it out onto the ground, and they both sat beside it to examine it carefully. It looked like a bench near a pond, with the geode in the second plank of the bench. It was from Blake Leif Neun the 45th to Vadid Yorter. Vadid Yorter, the infamous criminal?

“Elizabeth, do you really believe such nonsense that there could be the world’s greatest geode in the park bench in the random city of Wodloow? Do you really believe that two twelve year olds could find it, even if it was there?” asked a skeptical Kay Elle.

“Yes. Why couldn’t there be hidden treasure? After all, the museum formerly housing the geode is in the so-called ‘random’ city of Wodloow. Let’s go around the koi pond to the second plank of the bench.” Thus they went around, and found that the second plank was made of two planks glued together. When they went back to Kay Elle’s underground house, they immediately got out screwdrivers and glue.

Finally they went back to the bench. The air was cold, as it was night, and the light from Elizabeth’s keychain provided only just enough light to see the slight crack in the board, just the tiniest difference in the grain of the wood. Indeed, whoever did this thought of most everything. They had even used glue that dried thin, smooth, and clear, so as to not call the crack to attention of most eyes. All but the most observant did not know that the most famous geode of all time, the most famous hollow rock with at minerals already formed inside of it, was hidden in a bench that was sat upon daily–by the old lady with the blue-white hair that fed the squirrels, to the singing man who could be heard by the passengers on the subway passing by, to the artists painting the koi, all of the people could be sitting right on top of a priceless natural jewel collection–yet they didn’t know it.

Elizabeth and Kay Elle decided that it would be best to work from the middle of the plank out to the edge, with them going in two different directions. When they finally pried their screwdrivers in, they both hit a piece of metal. “No problem, I’ll just head back and grab some metal solvent. Stay where you are, okay?” said Kay Elle.

Soon Kay Elle came back with the solvent and two syringes. They also had thick gloves, strong enough to protect their hands from any rogue splash of solvent. Seeing as they were ready, they began to squirt and pry open the metal with the screwdrivers. What they saw was another layer of metal, this time with a protective layer of soft and sticky sap upon it. They wondered why there would be sap on it, until they tried to use the solvent. The solvent just made the sap harden, so they got out a putty knife and scraped it off, using another solvent meant for chewing and bubble gum that was in the bucket with the metal solvent to get the last sticky strands of the clear, amber goo off. It reminded her of The Janitor’s Boy, by Andrew Clements, especially the part when the kid is scraping gum off of desks, with a putty knife and solvent. This time when they used the metal solvent and pried it open, they found a large frosted glass box. How tantalizing the glass was, frosted just enough to see the rough outline of the small geode, but a hint too frosted to see the beautiful colors that they were sure would be revealed if the glass wasn’t there.

A small hinge on the box showed that there would be an opening lid. Elizabeth gingerly grasped the box and pulled it out. She set it down on the ground between them and started to glue the boards back in place, helped by Kay Elle. Finally they were done, and they went to Kay Elle’s underground house to examine the box and it’s contents.

Gasping in surprise, Kay Elle ran her fingers lightly over the ornate box, finally seeing it in light, with all of it’s carvings of roses. Something was wrong, though, and she simply couldn’t figure out what. Suddenly it hit her, like a speeding train. She had seen this box before! It was the box that the landscape designer that her dad used kept his beloved pens and pencils in–the ones that were hundreds of dollars because of the superb quality. How could it have landed here? She mused about this as she fell into sleep, dreaming of frosted glass roses dancing with pens that had tags that said ‘$1000’.

When Elizabeth looked at Kay Elle again, she found that she was asleep. The map…it was signed Blake Neun, to Vadid Yorter…who was this thief? She shook Kay Elle awake, and asked her if she knew who Vadid Yorter was. She mumbled “My daddy’s landscape designer,” obviously tired. This made her wonder if she should look up who he was. She presently found out that Kay Elle was right, he was a landscape designer, currently in jail for stealing canopic jars from the Tolstevsky. Good thing that they didn’t have to worry about the nasty thing. Now the small matter that the box was locked…

15 minutes later, after a quick nap, Kay Elle dextrously picked the lock with an anxious Elizabeth watching. She lifted the lid and both simultaneously gasped at the magic let out of the box. Sunlight through the one window streamed over the geode, sending a veritable rainbow of colors onto the wall. They were both at loss for words. Suddenly there was a lot more sunlight…and a police officer staring down at them. The police officer fell into the underground dwelling, onto the bed, bouncing up and down several times, and Elizabeth couldn’t suppress a giggle at his misfortune. At the almost the exact moment she had giggled she wished that she hadn’t, for the police officer looked as though he wanted to rip her world apart for some time. He cleared his throat, and with a trembling mustache said “What do you think you’re doing with the geode?!? It is property of the Tolstevsky, not some thieves in an underground hideout!”

“Sir, we have just recovered this geode from a map blowing about the street, and it was stolen by Vadid Yorter. It was encased in the bench near the koi pond in the park, and we plan to give it to the Tolstevsky when we’re done.”

“Hah! I don’t think so,” said the police officer. “I intend to take a good look at this map of yours.”

“Fine, here!” said Elizabeth, and she slammed the map a bit too  forcefully into his hand. “Take the map. Look for yourself. All we did was carefully take apart the plank of the bench and put it back together. We are going to give this marvelous thing to Tolstevsky–see, there’s a curator over there, she knows that I had better give it back, or we will all be hearing about it. Now, good day to you, and I will leave.” True to her word, she stomped away in a whirlwind of fiery anger about the injustice of the situation. She made her way to the Tolstevsky, where she found an old coffee can, rolled the geode tightly in a bit of cotton batting, tucked it away in the can, sealed the lid with a bit of superglue, and carefully set it upright at the first check in station. She ran away, back to the park, satisfied with her bit of a good deed, spun about once, looked at the soft tangerine sun rising in the sky, and ran home, where she promptly rolled into bed, pretending to have been asleep this whole time. She was thinking about her emotions. Joy at her good deed and shame at breaking into the bench clashed inside of her, at war with many other feelings, but she saved that for another day…

Epilogue

Twelve years later,  the most successful young entrepreneur, Elizabeth Aire, 24 years old, walked into the Tolstevsky. She walked with purpose past all of the exhibits, even the popular new Men on Mars exhibit. When she stopped, she was facing the 39 Gem Geode. Only her and the guard, her best friend, knew just how important the geode was to her. Smiling mysteriously, the guard, Kay Elle Mlinkle,  reached into her pocket and pulled out a large frosted glass box, with frosted glass roses on it. With it she brought out a picture, obviously taken incognito, of a police officer bouncing on a bed underground, with a sunny yellow wall in the background. The guard mouthed something: I still live there! They exchanged a smile again, a different type of smile: a knowing smile. Pivoting on her toe, Ms. Aire walked into the sunshine of the only park in the random small town of Wodloow, where she sat on the only park bench, near the koi pond, running her hands over the slight crack in the second plank, nostalgically remembering their nighttime adventure. She turned to the pond and smiled.

Tragedy Awaits: The Diary of Elizabeth Hope Kebble–Part 1 by E.J. Aire

November 13th, 1763

Dear Cloud,

Today Father went out to fight in the war. I am very scared, as the fighting is near our house, and I am but twelve years of age. I am to help Mother with chores, but each stitch of the thread, each flash of the needle reminds me of who we are sewing these rough broadcloth overcoats for: the soldiers. Like Father. The Bennetts have already received news that the eldest son fell in war, and dear Mary is inconsolable. Last night may have been the last time I  shall ever see dear Father again. He rode off on his trusty steed, Lightning. On a more cheerful note, we have just gotten a new horse. She is dove gray, and named Beth, a fine name, named after me, Elizabeth. We also have Annie, Kate, and Lily, named after Anne, Katherine, and Lillian. Mother is calling me, so I must go.

❀Miss Elizabeth (Ella) Kebble


Dear Cloud,

Bad news. Father deathly ill, Mother weeping. Father was brought back with a bullet in his shoulder. The bullet is weak; it only infected a small area. Anne, the eldest, has taken over Mother’s position. She applies a poultice prescribed by Dr. Barnes, and then bandages it tightly. I must help Katherine keep house, for we are practically orphans. Mother hasn’t stirred from her chair by the fire. Oh, wait! Anne is calling that Mother is going out to get fish for supper! Joyous news, as it means that she has sensed that Father will heal.

❀Ella


Later:

Well, we are orphans now. Though Anne tended to him so well, Father has passed into the next world. Mother knew Father would die, and walked off the dock into icy black waters. Eyewitnesses said that she strode with purpose toward the water’s edge, spun around once, said a short prayer, and walked straight into the water, sinking to the bottom like a stone. Anne and Katherine lie weeping in the same places that the late Mother and  Father sat in their last hours. There is no grave that says R.I.P. Jess and Edward Kebble. I shall draw one, so that they may live on in memory. I sit and write my feelings out to you, Cloud, as I sit next to a wailing baby Lillian. We mustn’t let the officials catch onto the fact that we are orphans, lest they send us to the orphanage. The Matron at the orphanage is a frightful thing-and humongous!  Anne and Katherine would be sent to work, the whereabouts of the workplace unknown. I would be sent to live with a family as a servant, and I don’t want to think of the ghastly things that may befall Lillian. I used to shudder at the thought of being an orphan, but that is what I am now.

~E. Kebble


Dear Cloud,

Anne has taken a boat back to our dear homeland, England. The boat is one used for transporting livestock and worse. It has many a foul mouthed sailor, who would be more than ecstatic to woo Anne, for she is a classical beauty. With her flowing red-gold hair, and mystical aqua eyes, with her fancy dress that speaks of wealth. How surprised the naive sailor would be to find out that we had to resort to the poor box, and that we were orphans. Anne shalt surely die. And be ‘buried’. By a sailor’s funeral. But who would be there to cast her off? The poor sailor whose secret love perished? I should hope not! No, she shan’t go! I must hurry down to the docks.

~Your harried friend, E. H. K.