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"Not all who wander are lost" – J. R. R. Tolkien

The Destroyed Survivor – Part 3/3

3/23/2016

It is now the year 1353 and the plague epidemic is over and life is beginning to look up once again for everyone except me. My father’s haggard, hopeless face haunts me to this day; stalking me in my cruel dreams by night and lurking in the shadows of my mind by day.

I turn my face back to the window once again and began aimlessly staring out at the rain as it continued to beat down upon the earth from the heavens. It was not long before sudden movement, coming from the paddock across the road, caught my eye. It is StormChaser’s, our youngest mare’s, new colt, Wildfire, galloping around the pen with his head lifted up towards the sky; he must not mind the rain. Wildfire reared up on his hind legs and let out a high pitched whinny before turning around and, once again, disappearing into the stables; having heard the call of his mother. I let out a deep sigh and lean my head against the window pane. Is it possible to be jealous of a colt? I miss my mother so badly that, at times, my emotional pain transforms into physical pain; causing my chest to feel like someone just ran a sword through it. I wish so badly that my parent were alive and here with me, but that is just a dream; an impossible, childish dream that I know, will never come to pass.

The unremitting, torturous throb in my chest, however, is not the only thing I gained on my seven day journey from my hometown of Denain, France to Alphen, Netherlands; where I now reside. Since I arrived in Banie, I have learned a great many things about the Black Death and the destruction that it brought. By the early 1340s the Black Death had already infested and deeply devastated the countries of China, India, Persia, Syria and Egypt; I suppose they just thought it was just Europe’s turn to suffer. I feel nothing but pure detestation for the fleet of Genoese trading ships, or “death ships” as they are more commonly referred to as, that docked at the Sicilian port of Messina in 1347 and spread the epidemic to Europe. I also, cannot help but wonder whether or not my parents would still be alive today, if those twelve accursed Genoese “death ships” had never docked in Messina.

I stood up and stretched out the cramps in my body before making my way over to my bed. I know that I should at least attempt to get some sleep, though I am rarely ever successful. I pulled the covers up to my chin, striving to prepare myself for the horrors I am sure I will see in my nightmares tonight. I feel one last shudder race down my spine at the thought before I close my eyes and drift off into my prison of horrors. For my mind is like a haunted forest where my fiendish memories are my only company; I can never seem to escape them. I am a prisoner of my own memories, my own mind, my own personal, living hell; I am a destroyed survivor.

The Destroyed Survivor – Part 2/3

 

3/23/2016

I grasped my father’s hand tight in mine as we walked down the rat infested, dirt road that led to the outskirts of town. I looked up at his face as we walked; I still could not fully grasp why he must stay, and I must leave. My father’s pace suddenly slowed to a halt and I looked upon the road that I must now traverse on my own. The path was straight for a short while before ascending the side of a steep hill and disappearing from my line of vision. My father grasped my shoulders and turned me to face him. He knelt down in front of me, so as to look me in the eye, and pulled out a mask filled with posies from the pack that hung from his shoulder. I gasped as my eyes landed upon the priceless mask. Our town’s doctor said that by holding posies over your mouth and nose at all times you would lessen your chances of becoming infected by the plague. These masks were invented so that people could cover their mouth and nose with posies without having to use their hands to hold them to their face. We had long desired to buy some, but they were far too expensive for our poor family to afford.

I looked up from the mask in my father’s hand feeling confused. I could see my father’s utter despair dancing in his eyes as I looked him in the eye. “Papa, how did you manage to afford this? I thought we did not have enough money to buy a mask. Besides, you and mother still need money for food!” my distress evident in my tone.

The thing that truly drove the fact that I would, more than likely, never see him or mother again home, was his response to my question. “We have no need for food now, my darling Rose. Death has come to the Goldléaf household and I do not believe that neither your mother nor I shall escape its iron fist. It is better for your mother and me to know that you have a high chance of staying safe than to feel our bellies full in our final days. I put the rest of the money in your leather pouch when you were packing; remember to never take it off else someone could steal it. Now go child, before it is too late for you to escape terrible fate that awaits your mother and me.”

The Destroyed Survivor – Part 1/3

3/23/2016

The Destroyed Survivor
By: Kathleen L. Carroll

I sit quietly by my window, watching the rain pour down upon the dirt roads through the glass. There’s not a soul in sight, and the only noise to be heard is the pounding of the rain on the roof. My name is Rose Goldléaf, I am sixteen years of age and I have been Lady Evelune of Alphen’s lady in waiting for the past four years. I was named after my grandma, Lady Rose Juhel of Messina, and I am proud to bear her name; though I am not of Messina, Italy. She sounded like such a beautiful, loving soul and I often wish I could have met her. I can still recall father telling me stories of her when I was younger. He would set me on his lap and tell me stories of how Lady Rose, his mother, would play with him and his brother every day ‘til she took ill and passed away when he was just a child, not even ten years of age. He would do this every day in a vain attempt to distract me from the cries of unparalleled agony that came, every day and night, from the dying souls that littered our kingdom’s streets. My father would use these joyous tales of his early childhood to whisk me away from the reality that, at any given moment, our entire family could be in the same position as those poor unfortunate souls that lie, blanketed by death, in the streets of our, once beautiful, Kingdom.

The Bubonic Plague, the disease from hell that my people have dubbed the Black Death has been raging across Europe for these past five years. It is a weapon of mass destruction that we cannot see, cannot fight, cannot stop; it the only thing that causes everyone – even the boldest warrior in all of Europe – to become paralyzed with unadulterated horror. I’ve come to understand that this disease tends to feast mainly upon the elderly, the weak, and the young. Parents would fear for the safety of their children and allow themselves to become weak and vulnerable in the process; the Black Death seemed to survive off the worry of parents. It is the same depressing story every time, the parent worries for the safety of their family, become vulnerable, catch the plague and die in a matter of weeks; infecting the rest of their family at the same time.

I can remember my mother and father praying day and night that the Black Death would pass over our family, practically like how the Angel of Death passed over the houses of the Israelites back in the days of Moses; unfortunately, however, we had no such luck. It has been nearly five years since my parents died and I believe that stress is what caused my own parents – exactly like so many other parents – to contract the disease in the haunting year of 1348; I was only eleven years of age at the time. At least, I believe them to be dead, for I was not present when they finally entering into their eternal slumbers. I was already long gone by the time of their deaths; I had been forced, by my father, to leave home the same day that my mother was struck down by the plague. That day, my life changed forever; it was the worst day of my life and I shall not ever forget it.

My father looked me in the eye and told me to pack my stuff and leave; he did not wish for me to catch the plague from mother. He told me that I must leave home and travel to a place where I might me safe. When I asked him if he was coming with me, all he did was sadly shake his head. He feared that his close contact with mother had already infected him and he was not willing to risk giving the Black Death to me, his only child. He explained that was going to stay and help ease my mother’s passing, ‘til he takes ill and collapses alongside her. I wept bitterly as I packed up my few belongings and listened to my father give me advice on where I go from here.  He told me that he would lead me to the edge of the town and point me in the correct direction before I had to set off upon road to the Netherlands on my own. The Netherlands was a more isolated country and was rumored to have experienced very few cases of the plague; thus, making it the ideal place for me to go. There I could hopefully find work and a place to lay my head at night.

I shiver, though it is spring, in the cold night air and cross my arms over my chest, huddling against the wall, in a pitiful attempt to keep warm. I close my eyes and allow my head to fall back against the wall as I feel myself slipping deeper into the hellish, haunting nightmares that are my memories.

 

Poetry

3/18/2016

The Candle
By: Kathleen Carroll

Like a wall
The wave comes.
A dead end,
No hope of escape
Trapped and alone
Nowhere to run,
No help
On the way
A glowing candle
Your only source of light
Flickers and goes out
No matches left
The only hope you had,
Now lost
As the wave approaches
It crashes around you
And as if made of glass
Your beautiful world
Shatters

Many fall
When the wave hits
Forever wallowing
In their self-pity
Forever living
In the past
Never reaching out
In hope
Of finding a match
That would once again
Set their candle ablaze
And give them
A fighting chance

When the wave hits,
Will you fall?
Or will you stand strong,
Hit the wave head on?
Will you reach out
For the match
That will give you a chance
For a new beginning,
A new hope,
A new life?

——————-

Life
By: Kathleen Carroll

Life,
A strange
Tangled up mess
Of a nest.
Happiness, sorrow;
Healing, pain;
Love, heartbreak.

Life,
Is not fair
Not something any genius
Can understand or explain
Leaving
Only one thing
To say:

Stay Strong,
‘Till the end of days
The golden gate is waiting,
Do not give way
Today

————–

Blue
By: Kathleen Carroll

Blue,
The color of sadness

Blue,
The color of pain

Blue,
The color of the rain
Pouring down
Upon your grieving brain

Blue,
The color of the waves
Lapping hungrily
At the barren shore

Blue,
The name of the music
That haunts
The abandoned club
Down by the shore

The place
You met your wife,
The place
You lost her,
When your daughter
Was only two.

Master Class Response

3/17/2016

Danielle Vogel’s poetry class was interesting, to say the least. When I walked into the room, I expected her to be boring just like most of the presenters that I have been forced to listen to in the past. I definitely did not expect her to have us build bird nests to represent something and then write a poem about someone else’s nest. While I thought it stupid at first, I slowly began to enjoy it as I built my nest out of an Avengers superhero folder, string, and nesting material. When I completed my nest, I did not see it as a silly arts and crafts project that Vogel had forced us to do, but a 3D representation of the poem, “As a Child,” that I wrote for my midterm portfolio.

While my nest represented childhood and imagination, the nest I choose to write a poem about seemed to represent the confusing mess we call life. The nest had no particular shape as it was strewn in pieces across a blank sheet of paper with words and short phrases – such as life, stand strong, and love – placed randomly on the paper in between the pieces of the dysfunctional nest. The way that we constructed our nests was meant to portray what we said in our original poems without using a lot of words. The nests became visual representations of our poems and portrayed the same message, in only a few words and a mess of leaves, string, and twigs. To me, it was a demonstration of another method I can use to bring poetry to life.

(And yes, if you were wondering, my Avengers folder is a part, or the base, of my nest.)

Poems

3/17/2016

Ghosts of Jealousy
By: Kathleen Carroll

They are all around you…
Friends with fangs.
They say that they are with you,
When they are really against you,
Holding a knife behind your back
Poised and ready to strike
Waiting for the opportune moment

They are demons
Blinded by jealousy and hate.
They are the Ghosts of Jealousy
Come to take you from this life
In the cruelest way they can

They speak only lies coated with honey,
They seduce you with their deadly charm
They talk of friendship and love,
When their true intent,
Is to destroy you

You never had a clue,
Until you felt their knife enter your flesh
And pierce your heart
You knew that you would die someday,
Yet you never dreamed,
That your death would come like this
There is no escape now,
Death has come for you,
And the Ghosts rejoice at your demise

They laugh as they watch you die,
Slowly bleeding out at their feet.
Your family is crying out
For you to come back to them
But, it is too late for that
The Ghosts of Jealousy have struck,
Your tears shall never fade from your face,
Your smile shall shine
Nevermore

————————————-

When You Wake
By: Kathleen Carroll

When I was alone,
You weren’t there.
When I was crying,
You didn’t hear.
When I was dying,
You didn’t care.

You are like a shadow,
I only see you around
When the sun is shining down
I act like I don’t notice,
But in all truth I really do.
It pains me to know,
That you don’t really care

If you truly cared,
You would’ve come
When I fell down.
But you weren’t there,
You never are…

You ignore me now,
But, you’ll miss me later.
You’ll miss me when you wake up
When you come to see
That those you called your friends
Have turned their back on you

Only then will you understand,
Your eyes will be opened and you’ll realize
The pain you caused me.
You’ll try to find me,
To apologize for your mistakes
But by then it could be too late,
I might be long gone by then…

Writing Prompt: Start With This

3/3/2016

Start with this: The moment I found that teeny, tiny little piece of paper…

The moment I found that teeny, tiny little piece of paper, I broke down crying. It has been ten years to the day that my best friend, Jay, was killed. I sat down in my favorite chair and thought back to the days before the accident. Jay and I would go to parks and hike through the woods for hours talking about anything and everything. From the moment we became friends in first grade we were inseparable, even to Jay’s last breath. I felt myself beginning to cry again as I remembered that day, the day my whole world collapsed. It was a beautiful spring day, the birds were chirping, the sun was shinning, and the air smelled of roses; nothing indicated that tragedy was headed our way. Jay and I were walking down the street laughing about times long past. I felt like everything was perfect and I guess it was that thought that jinked us. The road next to the sidewalk on which we were walking was a busy road to neither of us thought anything of it when we heard a car coming up the road from behind us. We both turned around as we heard the sound of the car approached us much faster than normal. The car was speeding straight for us and through the window we could see that the driver had passed out at the wheel with his foot on the gas. We screamed as we attempted to get out of the car’s path, but we had noticed the car too late and we both knew we were not going to be able to evade the car in time. The last thing I remember is Jay pushing me from behind causing me to go sprawling out of the path of the car. I rolled down the small hill on the other side of the sidewalk, away from the road. All I heard was a scream of agony before I blacked out from hitting my head on a rock as I rolled down the hill. Jay died that day saving my life and all I walked away with was a second degree concussion; I owe her everything.

Writing Prompt: Start With This

2/3/2016

Start With This: We made a left onto Canal street…

We made a left onto Canal street late Saturday night after a long day of shopping. It was Christmas Eve and all I wanted to do was go to sleep, but I knew that was not going to happen anytime soon. I groaned as I parked my car in my driveway because I knew I now had to carry all of the stuff that I bought for Christmas inside without waking my kids up. My friend Sarah, who had stayed home with the kids came outside to help as I popped open the trunk of my car. After much difficulty and a lot shushing, we finally got all of the presents in the house, wrapped, and under the tree. We were both too tired to make it upstairs to our bedrooms so be both crashed in the living room with me on the couch and Sarah on the recliner. I was probably only asleep for a little over three hours when I was jolted awake by something heavy land on my stomach. I heard Sarah yelp and I guessed that something, or in this case someone, had just jumped onto her stomach as well. I opened my eyes to see my son, Michael, sitting on my stomach looking at me while pointing excitedly to the presents under the Christmas tree. I pretended to go back to sleep and so, in retaliation, my son got up off of my stomach and ran over the radio located in the far corner of the living room. He turned it on and pressed play on it resulting in one of my favorite Christmas songs to come blasting through the radio’s speakers; “The Little Drummer Boy” by the Jackson 5. My sleepiness forgotten, I sat up and began to sing along with my son Michael, my daughter Astrid, and my best friend Sarah; best Christmas ever.

Writing Prompt: Start With This

3/3/2016

Imagine you are sending one of your friends a post card from the car repair shop. Start with this: Greetings form the Car Repair Shop:

Greetings from the Card Repair Shop: Hello Sarah, be glad you are not here. My Dad and I were on our way to the doctor’s office so that I could get my flu shot when our car blew a tire. We had to wait for two hours for a tow truck to come and help us because we did not have a spare tire in the trunk of our car. Even worse, we were on the highway and my phone was dead which meant that I had absolutely nothing to do the entire time we were waiting. And do not even get me started on the fact that our car could only pick up one radio station and it unfortunately was the modern pop music station. I cannot believe that I had to sit and listen to songs like “Baby” by Just a Beaver (Justin Bieber) and “Whip my hair” by Willow Smith while we were waiting to get help. This music catastrophe was probably the worst part of the entire experience; and yes, it trumps the car breaking down. When we finally got to the repair shop, we had to wait for another hour to get a new tire put on our car. We then discovered that the job cost 200 bucks; “another 200 buck down the drain” as my Dad put it. Once we got home, my Dad called and rescheduled my doctor’s appointment. So, in other words, I had an extremely terrible day; how was yours?

Your Friend,
Kathleen

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