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Jamie's feet sank into the ground as she tried to run across the muddy lawn and into the dark green forest where she had so many times played until her mother would beg her to come inside. She ran to the tallest tree she knew. Her tree. She hung from its lengthy branches and lay down on its wet sod until she, too, was camouflaged into the silent ground. She then stood up planting her feet into the earth as she stood on her toes so she could reach up to what was carved into the tree. The words she had always tried to read but never quite could. This tree was one of the oldest and she often pretended that the initials represented part of the tree's history. Or maybe something even bigger, such as a part of her town's history, her lovely town of Roanoke.
Today was just like any other day when she got up. Jamie's straight strawberry blonde hair fell straight into place surrounding her face. Her pale skin was translucent, and her eyes a heart-warming blue. Though Jamie awoke each morning hoping otherwise, she was still awkward and shy when she got on the bus to school, and remained a C student. But during history class she began to feel as though something about today was different, and that today was a day she wouldn't forget.
Jamie paid full attention during history, because today the lecture was about Roanoke. Somehow knowing that her town was such a huge part of history brought warm tears to her eyes, and filled her with the hope that maybe someday she too would make it into the history books. After all, that was most girls' dreams, to be known by thousands of people and to be an idol to many.
Jamie's history teacher broke into her reverie. "Miss Smith, have you heard a word I just said?"
Jamie felt her face suffuse with color, "Uh, I, …." She stuttered.
"I thought not, would you please try to pay attention." he said sharply. "Now as I was saying, The colonists of Roanoke, being worried, convinced Governor White to return to England to ask for aid and restock on food, but his sail was delayed. First, by the captain's refusal to sail during the winter, and then by Britain's on-going struggle with the Spanish Armada, which had utilized all available ships. The result being that none were available to the Roanoke Colony. He did, however, later get two small ships but all the cargo was stolen because of the captain's greediness. Three years later, in 1590, he returned to Roanoke, only to discover that the colony had disappeared without leaving any signs of a battle or struggle. However there were two hints. One was the word Croatoan carved into a post and the other was the word Cro carved into a nearby tree." Jamie's history teacher said this, as if he was contemplating what had happened to the villagers and as though it was life dependent situation.
Jamie had walked home today, the noisy cramped bus that she hated, pulled out in front of her, until it was only a speck racing down the empty streets. But now, as she pulled up using her arms to feel the indents left on the tree, the words made sense, as they flooded into her body pumping through her veins, and she knew that today was no ordinary day.
This time, as she stood on her toes to reach into the hollow wooden hole her hand grazed something. It was soft and leathery and as she tried to pull it out of the decrepit tree Jamie tripped and fell. Both she and the object came tumbling down onto the wet ground. Yet she was too fascinated by the thing in her hand to notice her scraped and throbbing arm. Its leathery cover was old, wet, and falling apart, yet it was a truly beautiful sight. A book. After she regained her breath she crawled towards the tree to sit under its comforting branches from which she used to hang. She picked up the book and carefully lifted the cover turning to the first page. Elizabeth's Diary it said in neat script and as she studied the page she had a feeling that she had made a huge discovery.
"History." She whispered under her breath.
Father is going back to England, and so are many other men. I know he must go but I have fear that we will not survive until he comes back. It scares me to think about this. Mary cried when he told us after his meeting. Does he know that we need him here with us? There is so much that could go wrong. Roanoke needs all the help we can get. Especially because of the rumors that the English and the Spanish are in dispute. There is a constant fear in my mind, though mother says not to fret and to take care of the children and be useful. However I am still unsure if this simple lifestyle is the one I desire. I wish that I was Indian when I see them. They have the most beautiful jewelry that mother forbids me to wear. She says as Protestants we are forced to have a "simple" life. It is my birthday in 4 months. I am going to be fourteen, nearly ready to wed, even if it is not my hearts true desires. I will write more later though, father is leaving and it scares me that soon we will be without his warm smile and his loving ways.
As Jamie read the revealing words her face lit up. If only her curiosity had gotten the better of her long ago, maybe then her history teacher's words would have included her name, the textbooks would have been re-written to include, Elizabeth Smith's name.
"Yet this lost diary might not solve anything, unless there was a second entry. But there was truly only one way to find out. Jamie held her breath as she turned the page.
Father left and now the days pass by very slowly and my chores all seem dull without him around. Mary doesn't do her chores which leaves more work for me. Mother is lonely and she tends to her garden more than she does to her children. My brother Tom is a blacksmith apprentice, which pleases us all but he is hardly at home because he finds his new craft so interesting. Why couldn't life go back to the way it was before? Why did we even have to come to Roanoke? It is so lonely now that the almost half the town has left. It is dull and dreary. I play with my friend Annabell often but she is not like me and does not long for what she will most likely never receive. If I didn't have you, my diary, I have no idea where on earth I would be. You are the only one I can confide in. Mother is telling me to come wash the dishes in the sink but then I will have to stop writing. We are short on food in our house and I am always hungry. Every day here is a struggle to get to the next, it breaks my heart to see Roanoke bending and breaking.
Sincerely, Elizabeth White
For the next week Jamie carried that book everywhere as she read Elizabeth's conflicts and troubles, although none had yet given her the answer she desired. 'How did the colony of Roanoke come to an end?" To Jamie, it felt like Elizabeth was still alive and that the two had become friends. Elizabeth comforted Jamie, just as the diary had once comforted Elizabeth. It was their connection.
One day, a week later, Jamie sat and read under the tree for what seemed like forever, wrapping herself up in Elizabeth's world. She hardly even noticed it was dark outside until she heard her mother yelling.
"Jamie! Come in for bed! You've been outside since you got home from school. What has been up with you? You're not acting like yourself." Her mom said.
"I dunno. I guess I'm just…I'm….I'm going to bed, I think I'm tired." Jamie said shrugging as she carried the diary up the stairs.
"And Jamie! What is with that book? You bring it everywhere." Her mom shouted, but Jamie shut her out, refusing to talk about it, something that would never have happened a week ago.
She opened the book and yawned, slowly her eyes began to close…
When Jamie awoke the next morning the book was open in front of her. She had fallen asleep reading. She quickly began reading the next page and the first sentence alone left her breathless.
I truly do believe in love at first sight. Today I met a boy. Not just any boy though. An Indian! He is sweet and kind and handsome and everything I have ever dreamed of, yet, love is forbidden between us because we are different. His name is Ahanu. It means "he laughs." Isn't it such a beautiful name? I knew from the first time I spotted him hunting in the woods I loved him and I think that he loves me too. He only speaks a little English and he calls me Hurit, which is the Native American name for "beautiful." I hope to see him soon again when he comes to hunt in the woods near my house. If only mother knew. I am finally given a shot at my dreams. Maybe then I can put my stiff burlap dress away and put on some leather, beautifully decorated by masterful hands. I have a feeling that the chores won't be that bad this week. Father is to come home soon as well, it has been nearly a three months and I expect he will arrive in a few weeks time.
Jamie felt like she was in love as well. She could just imagine the two together, Elizabeth, with long brown hair which she would tie up in her plain and boring dress and Ahanu with his tall muscular figure. They would climb over the rocks and play games while he would tell her about the animals. They would walk and talk and she would tell him everything, even if he couldn't understand it. Just the thought made Jamie smile and sigh. That is until she remembered that she was not Elizabeth. That she was Jamie. Shy, awkward, lonely Jamie. Suddenly she threw the book to the floor.
"Did I actually think that I had fooled myself?" Jamie questioned herself. She was now angry and couldn't take it any longer. Tears instantly rolled down her cheek. She regretfully picked up the book and read on, the tears kept on coming as she read the next entry.
He loves me too! He told me today and gave me some beautiful turquoise beads. Everything is perfect but our secret love tires me too. How is it possible to love someone you cannot love? He wants me to come join his village. To leave Roanoke behind. We would marry. It is everything I have ever dreamt for, yet, I am still uncertain. What about father? Mother? Mary and Tom? How will I know what is to become of my beloved family? After all I am only thirteen, almost fourteen. It has been a little over three months since father left. He has not yet returned. Mother says he will soon though. I pray for the best….and an answer…
Jamie was confused as to what Elizabeth would do. She wished she could warn her of what would happen to Roanoke and her father. Yet, she didn't know what happened to Roanoke herself. She felt stupid and helpless. She put Elizabeth's book under the bed and pulled on her clothes for school. As she looked in the mirror she was upset with what she saw. Mousy blond hair and dark circles under her eyes that made her look scary with her pale complexion.
School dragged on for the day and all Jamie wanted was the diary. She wanted to be with her friend. When the day finally ended she ran home and yanked the book out from under her bed. She flipped the pages to the newest one.
Three and a half months and still no sign of father. I've made my decision to go with Ahanu. I have no idea how to tell my mother though, for she would never in all her life let me marry him. But what about what I want? What about my heart? I will leave tonight. I have already packed a few belongings that I will need in my new home. Sadly I must leave you for my family, and it hurts my heart. But I finally have someone else to live for. I just hope that my family understands. I do love them so.
This diary is now in possession of me, Mary White, Elizabeth's sister. She left it to me when she ran away. No one except for me knows where she is, but I am afraid that my people will find out soon, especially because everyone knows that Elizabeth and "Ahanu" were good friends. It hurts to know that she would leave me like this to do all her work, but then again I enjoy this simple life unlike Elizabeth who despised it. I hope that she wears her native American leather well, after all she was definitely beautiful enough for it, unlike me, I take after mother who is not the most attractive. I thought you should know that it has been seven months since father left. Four months overdue. Will we ever see those British sails again?
Yours truly, Mary White
Jamie was now upset. "Elizabeth is gone? Forever?" she repeated in her mind. Not possible she would never leave her family. But then again Jamie never really knew Elizabeth, even though she pretended to. She flipped to the next page, which was written in the same messy script, yet it was more sort of hurried writing. She immediately began to read it.
I am scared. The colonists of Roanoke have found out about Elizabeth's new life and are planning on attacking the Natives. My people think they forced her to come, they do not know the truth, but I am too scared to get involved. The men in England have been gone so long I fear they will never return, especially now that we are preparing for an attack. I am scared for my sister. What will become of her? What will become of Roanoke? Or my father? What about mother and Tom? All these answers float around in my cluttered mind. It is frightening. Will this nightmare ever end? Or is it just the beginning?
I do not have time to write a lot. I am in the house and they have attacked the Indians. They took them by surprise but many were lost. Elizabeth was no where to be found. Yet I know she is there because I can feel it inside of me. The colonists are now planning to leave Roanoke because they fear retaliation from the natives. I am angry towards my sister. If she hadn't made this all about her we I wouldn't be in fear for my life and the lives of those I love. Good bye dear diary, I will hide you in a tree and carve where we are trying to retreat to. I will come reclaim you as soon as I can
Jamie turned the page to see one entry left in the whole book. The writing was unusual, although you could still tell it was Mary's.
They intercepted us, and now we are all in danger, although I am already slipping away. One native has stabbed me in the stomach. I can't breathe, and the only thing keeping me alive is the thought that my father will not know what has happened to Roanoke. There are only a few left, but I have no idea whether or not they will make it. When word gets to Elizabeth that her family is dead she will live with regret. If you find this diary, please give it to Jonathan White. He will return, he loves me, he will return.
Yours truly, Mary
The words stopped, and it saddened Jamie that it was over. Also that Jonathan White had to live without knowing where his family was. Jamie knew what she had to do. She ran downstairs and put the book in a ziplock bag. She ran outside, with the book and a pen in hand. On a card she wrote
"Here lie the spirits of Mary White and her sister Elizabeth. Both girls wrote in this diary enclosed. Please keep the mystery of Roanoke alive. But hopefully you will enjoy the diary. In it I have entered how I came to find it. Please do the same and rebury it so we may always remember these two sisters who played important roles in Roanoke's history
Jamie placed the card which she had just written into the plastic bag and sealed it up. She then ran as fast as she could toward the tree where she had found the book. Beneath its majestic branches, she dug a deep hole and dropped the bag inside, sealing it with dirt. Jamie closed her eyes. She finally felt complete. She, Jamie Smith, had become a part of history. The next person to find this diary would know that Jamie had held the key to the mystery of Roanoke, but that rather than ruin the mystery for others, she had left it for them discover for themselves. The spirit of those two girls had set Jamie free, just like Jamie hoped they would to the others who would find this diary and read their story in the future.
*The villagers of Roanoke disappeared, no one knows how or why. This is my interpretation of one of the possibilities of what might of happened.