small waves break softly
weak sunlight skims the surface
two dolphins surging
Note: Previously published by author in Issue 46 of Haiku Journal. Republished with permission of author. No copyright intended.
small waves break softly
weak sunlight skims the surface
two dolphins surging
Note: Previously published by author in Issue 46 of Haiku Journal. Republished with permission of author. No copyright intended.
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Kennedy woke up early. She didn’t really have a reason to, being the most utterly boring person in her grade with few after school activities. Naturally, she changed out of her pajamas and put on her jeans and oversized sweater before brushing her teeth and hair. She prepared some oatmeal with strawberries, bananas, peanut butter powder, and chocolate sauce. It was a really unhealthy combination and defeated the purpose of the oats, but it was still pleased her to eat it. As the porridge cooked, she scrolled through her Instagram feed, stopping every once in awhile to like a picture. She remembered that her older sister had once told her to “like every single picture in order to get more likes”when she saw her social media usage habits. Yet she still only liked the pictures she actually liked. Kennedy didn’t believe in showing appreciation to people who had ugly feeds.
She had to admit, but practice was, like, extremely hard today. Her legs burned from the continuous kicking and her arms felt like jelly slapping the surface of the water. Looking at the set was frightening enough, 4×400 IMs on the seven minute, but doing it was something else. She knew that there was probably billions of swimmers working harder and just swimming much faster than her, but what could she do to make herself faster? Swimming was just like thrashing arms and legs in the water, in order to, miraculously, move at a faster pace than others. Even Ally Howe had said that she broke a record by just “swimming fast.” Really. Fast swimmers weren’t experts at giving advice.
Her dad had forced her into it. He was sitting at his computer, intently staring down at her as she sat across the table. It took her only about 15 minutes to write the program. However, there were too many errors in it, or so said the computer. Each time she compiled the file, the screen just spewed out a page of errors. It was too dizzying to like at the blur of white and black font. And whenever she fixed one error, it just seemed like the errors would multiply. When she was finally able to run the program successfully, with no mistakes whatever, she was too exhausted to cheer. Instead, she celebrated her victory by slumping her head on the keyboard.
YouTube & Buzzfeed
Dark circles were already engraved under her eyes, but she still stared motionless at the screen as she watched the human on the screen progress into the realm of the digital world. She was in her favorite position for watching videos, comfortably nested under the layers of her comforter as she lay on her side staring at the tiny screen. The video stopped, so she looked away from the screen for a second. To rest her eyes, was her explanation. But it was really because half of her conscience had already died inside of her. A clip on the edge of her screen read, “we don’t talk anymore by JK”. She tapped the small icon, which brought her to a black screen. It was the most beautiful black screen she had ever watched. That night, it was Jungkook who sung her to sleep.
The cheese had to be the cheap type, or then the grilled cheese wouldn’t be good and oily anymore. She was trying to explain this concept to her mom, who had insisted on getting a different type of cheese, “to enhance the taste”, as so she said. But Kennedy hated change. She hated not being able to know what to expect. And worst of all, she hated fancy cheeses and the snobby people who actually went to Europe to buy these. Really, she just wanted to stick to eating Colby Jack cheese.
In the beginning, the earth was as dry as a stone. No water trickled over its surface, no living thing grew in its soil. Then, out of the need of the earth, the gods appeared. The first one was the Shining One, the Lord of the Sun. His queen was the Lady of the Moon, the Silver One, goddess of women and all that is secret. The final god was the Lord of the Underworld, the very embodiment of death, the Black One. Together, they flew to the dry, scorched pebble in the universe that was the earth. Their tears mingled and formed the Great River, and out of the mud on its banks they shaped man and woman. The Shining One gave them joy, the Silver One gave them sorrow, and the Black One gave them peace.
The man and woman loved one another, and gave birth to three children, who ruled over all the earth. The eldest daughter ruled the earth, the only son the seas, and the youngest, another girl, the air. Fish, birds, and animals were created in every shape and form by these three, and their parents did as the gods did and fashioned humans out of clay and mud. When the earth had been populated by these, they faded back into the mud from whence they came.
The Shining One and the Silver One gave the creatures life and sleep, and when they wearied of the world, the Black One welcomed them into his gentle arms. For it was the true nature of Death to be kind, and give old creatures eternal rest.
The people of the earth separated into three tribes: earth, water, and air. The ones of the earth lived on grassy plains that rippled in the wind, the ones of water lived in lakes on gently floating platforms, and the ones of air lived high in the treetops, some of their feet never touching the ground as long as they lived. Today, only the tribe of the land remains. What happened to the others?
Even today, mountains rumble and spew fire into the heavens. They are the result of the tremendous anger of the Shining One at the humans on earth. Loathing their irreverent ways, the Lord of the Sun drove his flaming horses down to earth and lit the world on fire. The Black One, who could not bear to see innocent life destroyed, hollowed out the largest mountains in the world and filled them with the liquid fire that raged over earth. He walked over the world, touching those that had been harmed and giving them eternal rest.
The people of the air had been killed when their trees burned, falling to their deaths from enormous heights. The people of the sea had drowned in the boiling waters of their lakes and oceans. The people of the land had only survived by hiding in the deepest caves they could find, where it is eternally dark and damp and evil things whisper from the shadows. When the terrible heat faded, they went again to the top of the earth and grieved to see their brothers and sisters broken and drowned. They knew this was a sign from the Shining One, and immediately fell on their knees and praised him. Now, whenever the sun beat down and the rain did not fall, the people knew they had angered the Shining One, and would cover their eyes and beg with the Lord of the Sun to forgive their mistake.
The Lady of the Moon partnered with the Shining One, and they had many children. The sons were the clouds, who floated by their father in the daytime, and the daughters were the stars, who wheeled around their mother in the blackest nights. Once in an eternity, a star would fall in love with a man on earth, and streak toward him in a shower of light. She would never stay past midnight, and if she bore him a child, a pure white dove would fly to earth with the baby and present it to its father. To this day, the old women in mountain villages know when a child does not have an earthly mother, and whisper to each other, “He is a star-child…. she is a star-child….” The wise old women would always know, but few would believe them.
One star-child was a girl named Lunae, which in an old language means “moonlight.” Her father was a common woodsman, but one of the most handsome men in the village. He had often told her about the star-woman that had shot from the sky into a forest clearing one moonlit night. She wore jewels of moonlight, and a dress of purest linen. The woodsman had never seen her again, but the image of her was enough to sustain him until he passed into the realm of the Black One.
Lunae took after her mother in looks, and her father in wildness. She ran the woods at night, racing as swiftly as the wind. She always brought with her a silver bow, and any of her arrows was a compass, staying dead on its course until it met its target. Often, the people of the hills and mountains would awake and look out the window to see a beautiful starlit maiden dancing in their fields. Then she would be gone, as soon as they blinked.
One moonlit night, the Lord of the Underworld saw her dancing among the hills and trees and rivers. He stepped out softly in front of her, so as not to startle her; then he gifted her with the power to make anyone fall in love, simply by touching them, ever so lightly, with one of her silver arrows. She lived on the earth for all eternity, shooting swift arrows of love at anyone, man or woman, king or slave, noble or knave. The world was made a happier place for her presence.
I wish to scream at everyone in this humid and foul smelling room to shut up. The constant banging of cups against the wooden tables is making me feel nauseous. To add on, the air smells like booze and days old worth of unwashed clothes. I stumble to the counter, one hand pressed to me burning forehead.
“Kitty, do you need a break?” My younger brother, James, asks from behind the counter. He’s only a few years younger than me, but he always seems to be the more composed one out of both of us. He hands me a cool cloth, which I press to my forehead. I sigh in relief, the coldness providing refuge against the stuffy air.
“DEATH TO THE KING! DEATH TO THE KING!” The crowd chants. I roll my eyes. Our tavern is typically a haven for drunk Patriots. Although we are constantly pressured to join a side, my family chooses to stay neutral. I march to one of the wooden tables, and climb on top. My skirts make it easier to trip, but I manage to stand up.
“Quiet!” I holler, in attempt to silence the crowd. My attempt is futile, only stirring up them more. Just then, my older sister, Marian, saunters into the room. She reminds me of everything I’m not, with full lips, curves, and dark, silky, hair twisted back into a ruthless coil. Marian walks over to where I’m standing, and slams the point of her boot onto the table. The entire crowd suddenly grows still at the sound of her stomping.
“Silence.” Marian says, sternly, as if she was scolding a misbehaving child. “Roughness is not tolerated in this tavern.” Upon saying so, she steps off the table. The crowd parts at her command. She sashays to the back of the tavern and I rush to follow her.
“Why are they so loud today?” I complain once we get into our places besides James.
“You don’t know?” She asks. “Oh, of course you don’t.” I want to kick her under the table. “Lord North sent a few ships laden with tea. Rumors say that it’s holding up to 500,000 pounds. It’s sitting in the Boston Harbor now. The crew’s too afraid to unload to tea because of the vast number of rebels. Such a waste,” she sighs, twirling her finger in her drink before licking it.
My jaw drops at the news. 500,000 pounds of tea would be worth almost a fortune. Even if I manage to even get only a few pounds, it would still sell for a lot on the market.
“Oh, and apparently the rebels are going to dump the tea into the Harbor tonight. Some sort of protest they’re doing to persuade Parliament take away the taxes. I personally think it’s not going to help them at all. It’s going to be pretty great though.” Marian adds on.
I pounce at the news, picking up important details from her babble. It’ll be easy to get away this time, with the chaos the Patriots will cause. I have to take this opportunity.
Outside, the sun begins to set. It casts a warmish, pink, glow through the tiny window of our tavern. I look at the light streaming through the window, calculating in my head. There might be a few soldiers stationed near the Harbor, but I doubt it will be many. They’ll have little chance of actually harming the Patriots, since the number of colonists greatly outnumber them. That means I’ll have to sneak on the ship with the Patriots, and then take one of the back streets out. I review my plan over and over in my head, waiting for nightfall. The men slowly trickle out as the sun sets, crying promises to overthrow the king as they exit.
Finally, the last customer walks out, leaving my siblings and I alone in the tavern. We leave our posts and start clearing off the mess. Marian scoops up all the cups, and fills them with water to soak overnight. James and I both grab wash cloths, tending to the leftover stains of liquor. I scrub hard, making sure to catch every spill on the dirt-stained floor.
It takes half an hour to finally clean the whole room. By then, my knees hurt from rubbing the floor and my shoulders are aching. I collapse over one of the tables, exhausted. James comes and joins me. We stare at the ceiling, silently appreciating the moment of silence in our busy lives.
In the distance, I hear faint chanting. I groan and roll over on my back, turning to face James. He smirks back at me.
“Sure makes it a nice day, huh?” He yawns. “Some tea would be nice.”
Suddenly, I bolt up from my lounge. Tea, I remember. I run upstairs into the room I share with Marian. There, I reach for a spare of a pair of pants and a loose blouse tucked in a corner on top of our cabinet. I quickly dress, exchanging my petticoats for a more practical set of clothes. I grab my cap sitting on the nightstand, and tuck my braid inside.
Marian stands in the doorway, arms crossed as she examines me. I almost think she’ll prevent me from leaving the house, but she just heaves a sigh and walks into the room. She slumps on her bed, and quickly falls asleep as I prepare.
I tiptoe out the door, my boots silently slipping on the wooden boards. I rush to the door of the tavern and quickly grab a coat from off its hook. James hollers at me to stay safe, then returns back to his work.
The cold air nips at my face, so I tuck my chin into my coat and wrap my coat tighter around me. People have already started flooding into the main streets, chanting as they march past. Some hold torches, lighting up the streets. A few men wearing feathers on their head
join the crowd, paint smeared across their face atrociously. I stifle a laugh. The Indians would be offended.
I slip into the crowd, dipping my hat low in order to avoid being recognized. People trickle in as we passed narrow buildings squeezed together on the sides of the cobblestone streets. I even spot a few women amongst the men, chanting along.
The crowd weaves like a snake through the streets, growing larger as the Harbor nears. I finally make out a tall, white, mass, gleaming in the dark night. I pick up my pace, trying to get to the front of the crowd. A man with feathers in his hair walks alongside me. I slow down my pace, walking just a foot step behind him. I steal a feather from his band, and tuck it into my cap. I might as well blend in. The crowd’s chants grow louder. I realize that we are finally at the Harbor. I run to the front, shoving people out of my way.
The ship’s deck has been lowered. A few people have already began dumping the tea into the cold water. The ship rocks from the weight of the colonists, causing me to lose my footing. I stumble to a crate and wrap my arms around it, raising it off the slippery boards. I hear the tea leaves shifting inside, the sound smooth and sly. The ship suddenly lurches to one side, and the crate flies out of my grasp. I fall back, landing on my bottom.
A man chuckles at me, and offers a hand. I take it, using him as a post to yank myself up. I brush off the dirt clinging to my pants, and thank him. I walk over to retrieve the crate, but then notice him staring. I curse under my breath. Reluctantly, I make my way to the edge of the ship and toss the crate downwards.
He turns away, tricked into believing I’m with the rebels. Luckily, there’s still a surplus of tea left. I make my way back to the stacks, and grab another crate. This time, I steady myself, bracing for another sudden jerk. I push against the oncoming throng of people, and finally make it onto even ground.
I sidle into the crowd on the port. Most don’t bother to notice me as I pass, their concentration fixated on the commotion. However, one colonists catches my eye. He glances down at the crate I’m holding, realization catching up with him. I turn around just in time as he begins to lunge towards me.
“Thief!” He cries. Heads begin to turn, and people join him in the chase. I sprint as fast as my ability allows me, my boots clanking across the cold stones. The group of colonists follow, hot on my heels. I turn abruptly into a dark alley, hoping I’ve lost them. I slow down, panting. My legs burn and sweat drips down my back.
It turns out I didn’t lose them. The man pauses at the end of the alley and spots me. The others soon follow, breathless from their run. He smirks at my bewildered state and grins wickedly.
“Drop the box,” he commands. I turn around and begin to run again, in the opposite direction. Oddly enough, they don’t come after me. I skid to a stop at the end of the alley, realizing it’s a dead end. The street curves down, the stones dropping into the sea. I hitch in a breath, realizing there’s no way out of this situation.
Unless I jump.
The colonists step closer, smirking at my bewildered state. I look at the water. It looks angry, fiercely slamming against the stones.
But I only have one choice.
I suck in my breath and launch myself off. I’m briefly suspended, then the air rushes forward and I’m falling. I cannonball into the water, holding the crate tight at my side. The water is cool and refreshing against my burning skin. Above, I hear snippets of their chattering.
“He probably drowned–”
“At least the tea is dumped into the Harbor.” They share a laugh before heading back. I wait underwater until their footsteps to quiet down. I surface to the water, flailing. The air feels fresh, and I gulp it in large breaths. The box drifts quietly a few feet away. I swim towards it, and hold on, using it as a float. I pry open the lid. The leaves are soaked, but they’re still mine.
In the primers Mother bought for us, they taught us the Puritan attitudes towards life. Always behave, she would repeat, or God will punish you.
But lord, did it feel good to commit a sin.
Before passing through the veil to whatever world lies beyond life, most people can hear the whispers of the dead. For the old and for the younger soon to perish, the barriers between life and the next world already begin to crumble months before their departure.
Death–who did not always appear as a cloaked wraith as much of folklore and imagination would suppose–visited the soon-to-be-diseased precisely one month before their demise. It was merely a courtesy call to inform them, whether or not they believed Death or not. A courtesy call so that they might get their affairs in better order. If it was amusing, sometimes Death would informed those not long for the world of what the cause of their death would be and then give a chilling hair-raising chuckle (it was fortunate indeed that mortals were deaf to the noises of Death for most of their life) as the hapless mortal strove to evade Death.
Such was the case of one Alberto Smith: a crotchety eighty-two year old man with arthritis. Precisely on March 13, 1999, Death paid him a visit while he sat in his moldy leather armchair, slurping oolong tea.
“Hello, Alberto Smith,” Death whispered down Alberto Smith’s back. His breath embodied the essence of Death: cold and still.
“Demon! Evil spirit! Hallucination!” the man shouted wildly waving his arms about. “Be gone! I am but an innocent old man enjoying oolong tea.”
“I can never be gone, so long as Earth is broken,” Death replied. “You would be wise to listen, Alberto Smith. Heed my warning. On April 13, 1999 you will die of food poisoning.”
“I-I’m dreaming, hallucinating,” the man stuttered.
“Dismiss me as you well,” Death said, his ancient voice echoing and grating like stone against metal. “That will not stop me from coming for you when the time has come.”
With that, Death vanished to pay another person a visit who was doomed to perish in a car crash.
Alberto Smith chuckled. Death pay him a visit indeed! He proceeded to finish his oolong tea with a relish until the cup was drained. Laughing off the encounter, Alberto Smith continued with his life of equally grouchy cats and soap operas.
April 6—prior a week to the 13th—arrived. The old man had nearly forgotten his hallucination when he began to hear voices. His father, his mother, his younger brother, and his deceased fiancee all dead. The codger trembled and beads of sweat formed on his forehead. It was not happening. If he thought so, it would be true.
But the voices continued to haunt Alberto Smith up to April 13, 1999. The voices drove old Smith mad and he stopped eating. The only nourishment he consumed was oolong tea and a tea biscuit.
Knowing that the threat of Death was real, Alberto Smith fasted on the day of his death. No food or drink passed his lips in his waking hours.
Feeling immensely pleased that he had managed to evade Death, Alberto Smith took a long bath before turning in. As Alberto Smith tossed and turned, Death, furious with the impertinent mortal, sent the man a dream. In the dream, Alberto Smith rose from his bed, famished. He prepared a glass of oolong tea and drank. Unknown to him, the leaves, which originated from the time of the bubonic plague—for Death was not bound by time—had been infected with a deathly bacteria.
In his dream-like sleep walker trance, Alberto Smith drank the infected tea. The bacteria took effect quickly. He fell and the mutant bacteria (spurred by a bovine-poultry origins) took effect.
For ten minutes, he labored under chills and fever before the mahogany spots appeared like splotches of paint. Like spilled water, the cyanosis spread over Alberto Smith’s face as he gasped for breath. Within an hour, as eleven fifty-nine passed, he died.
Death smiled. Let that be a lesson that none can evade Death.
Watch the people
with their petty fights
Watch the towns
the little arguments about what belongs to who.
Watch the cities
all bombing each other into oblivion
why can’t they stop?
Why can’t they
just sit back, just watch,
observe the world
see beyond their own for once.
Look at our planet
It’s just a revolving sphere.
What if you could just
reach out, touch it, and
turn it off kilter?
Imagine all of us
falling against each other,
against the sky.
Our entire lives flung into chaos
just because of
“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