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The Diary of Rosemary Cline
August 24, 1900
Today is my birthday! I had a vanilla cake with eleven candles on it. Mother gave me this diary to write in. I haven't seen Father yet because Mother says he’s too busy at work, but tonight he will come home to celebrate my birthday.
August 25, 1900
Allie May, Esther, and I just got back from playing at the beach. The Galveston sand burns like coal as it sinks in between your toes. Standing on the very edge of the lapping water, so cold, refreshing, and...tempting, I debated whether I should get in or not. The heat took over my conscience, so I grabbed my dress to a bundle around my waist and splashed through the glorious water. Esther, mimicking me as always, was quick to following my move and leaped into the water. The sight of her hair dripping onto her soaked dress had me laughing, tasting the salty air on my tongue. Esther tried to run against the force of the water towards me and grabbed my hand. Being only six, the water was up to her hips now.
“Mother’s going to be mad at you,” Allie May’s figure hollered from the shore.
But after a while, all three of us were paddling through the waves.
August 28, 1900
Today through the crack in my door I heard Mother and Father arguing in hushed voices. I propped myself next to the door and pressed my ear against the warm, smooth wood so hard it started to hurt. I heard Father talking about a new man at his work who thought people were paying more attention to the weather forecasts sent in from Cuba, instead of theirs. He ordered that they cut off all access to any weather company outside of America. Mother was angry about this because Cuba has the most accurate weather system, and the people of Galveston got most of their information from them. In between their words to each other, all I heard was my quiet breathing. Mother also said this was terrible because it is hurricane season.
September 1, 1900
I am becoming afraid. Father’s weather Bureau says that there will be a tropical storm soon, but I’ve heard rumors that it will be something bigger than that. Father says I shouldn't listen to stuff like that, but the thought still haunts me. Everyone says that nothing can destroy Galveston because its the greatest and most desirable city in the country. People say that it will soon become the New York of the south. I hope they’re right.
September 4, 1900
I am now as anxious and fearful as ever. Late last night in my sleep I heard the sound of a door slamming shut that rattled me awake. For a few minutes only the darkness surrounded me until my eyes adjusted to the absence of light. At first I thought maybe I had dreamed the noise, for all I heard was the melody of a chorus of crickets. Before my head could even hit the pillow again, the sound of panicked feet shuffling around downstairs shot me wide awake, as if an alarm had gone off. Just a moment later I heard a soft whisper of my name float through the air.
I turned to see Esther’s large green eyes, the ones that matched Mother’s perfectly, staring at me. Her thick, dark curls were in a veil around her plump, rosy face, and continued down her shoulders. Her found pink lips formed the words,
I hesitantly released myself from the safety of my bed and tiptoed over to her. I placed one hand on the small of her back, and the other under her bottom, to pick up her slight body. She wrapped her legs around my waist as I glided down the hall to the top of the staircase to not be heard. I slowly placed Esther down and her white nightgown spilled down to the floor around her ankles. I peaked over the stairwell and was surprised to see Father and Uncle Joseph standing at the bottom. They were whispering in the illumination of a ghostly light.
“I know something really terrible is coming. I can just feel it,” Uncle Joseph was pleading.
“Every weather device I have shows that we don’t need to worry. You need to top getting yourself all worked up,” Father replied.
“Listen to me, something horrible is coming and we need to do something before it’s too late. I have this feeling.”
The fear in his voice was enough to send a chill down my back and through my body. I scooped up Esther and hurried back to our room, not even worrying about making sure we were quiet. I sat in the glooming darkness stroking Esther’s hair until she was asleep.
September 6, 1900
Today Mother and Esther went out into the city so Allie May and I went down to the beach. The sun was a blazing fire in the sky, and I could understand everyone’s eagerness to wade in the sparkling sea which seemed to have its arms wide open, welcoming you to join. But to me it seemed like a monster growling every time a wave crashed, and beckoning you into its dangers. Uncle Joseph’s words of warning kept playing over and over in my head like a broken record. Finally I was awoken from my daze.
“Are you alright? You seem kinda tense,” Allie May said as she put her hands on my shoulders and looked deep into my eyes with honest concern. She's only a year older than I am, but she likes to mother Esther and I. She reminds me a lot of Mother because they have the same red hair and the same sweetness in their voice. Sometimes I get angry when she bosses me around, but when she’s not I like to spend time with her.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I sighed.
“Alright,” Allie May moved a strand of hair from my face and turned, squinting at the scene of happy families and children jumping in the huge waves. The waves were much bigger today than usual and it was strange. But it seemed that everyone else thought it was all the more fun.
September 8, 1900
Right now Allie May, Esther, and I are crouching in the attic for safety. The only sounds I hear is the pounding of the rain outside threatening to break in and swallow us, and the soft murmur of many worried people. Next to me Esther is whimpering, and Allie May is trying to comfort her. She's trying to keep it together and take charge of the situation, but i think even she now feels hopeless. Early this afternoon the rain started and just kept coming and coming, followed by the thrashing winds. The Weather Bureau finally raised the hurricane warning flag, and that color of green shaking in the sky summoned my worst nightmare coming true. The town became full of frantic people, and most chose to take refuge in our house, suspecting that it was the safest since Father worked at the Weather Bureau. I hope we really are safe in here.
September 9, 1900
Last night was a horror that I’m lucky to of gotten out of. I didn’t know what was happening until I heard the screams from downstairs. Mother Nature was proving the city of Galveston wrong by devouring the only safe place we thought we had. The house was flooding at a very rapid pace. My sisters and I were at the highest point of the house so it had not reached us yet. Mother came up with us and held onto us tightly while Father tried to keep everyone calm down stairs. I could hear her heart pounding hard in her chest and I was scared it might leap out. Suddenly the roof was ripped completely off the top of our house and the rain was pounding directly on all four of us. The sudden gust of wind knocked me over into Allie May, who grabbed me by the arms to keep me stable. She held me there for a minute and her hands were shaking. Esther let out an ear piercing scream as we began to notice the slow rise of the water around us. After that all I knew was darkness. As the water pulled me under I held my breath until I could salvage another tiny ounce of air. Something floated by me and I wrapped myself around it, clutching so hard my knuckled stung. I stayed like that for a while, I’m not even sure how long it was. My mind was taken back to all the times that had happened before now. Just a week ago I had been celebrating my birthday and eating candy with no worry about what would end up happening. We had sat outside with our neighbors and drank tea while Mother joked and laughed with everyone like she always does. She was always the kind of person who could light up a room. Afterwards she had sat down at the piano and played a few hymns. Father told me that she used to play the organ at a church. Somehow that had turned into this.
I tried to block out the chilling shrieks that had me completely surrounded. One second you would hear a scream, and the next it was silenced by another life ending. When I was finally able to wipe my eyes enough to open them a crack, I had no idea where I was. I instantly started screaming for Mother over and over again. I started to panic even more when I wasn't receiving a reply. I continued to yell her name until my voice was hoarse, and every time I opened my mouth only a faint sound was swallowed by the thrashing waters. Just as I had began to give up, I heard my name. I squinted to try and figure out who it was, and as the figure got closer I realized that it was Uncle Joseph with Allie May and Esther. Uncle Joseph pulled me over with his arm and held on tight to me. After that point we all just waited for it to be over. When the rain started becoming lighter and lighter, the flooding also started to shrink. The scene was horrific. You couldn’t even tell that Galveston has once been a beautiful city because it was now covered in wood from houses and every other sort of thing you could imagine. Uncle Joseph pushed through the debris hollering for my father.
Finally we saw Father pushing through a crowd of people and he ran towards us. He hugged all of us so tight out of relief. In the moment we were just so happy to be reunited after all of that, but we soon realized the only one missing was Mother.
September 12, 1900
We never ended up finding Mother, and I don’t think we will. Allie May is already trying to take her responsibilities and take care of us all, but I still can't believe it yet. Esther cries all the time now and wants my comfort now more then ever, but I don't know how much I can give her right now. The sight of her eyes forms a lump in my throat that burns at the remembrance of Mother.
Father seems depressed a lot now and blames himself for the destruction of Galveston and its people. He says that we will be moving to New Orleans since there is nothing left for us here. He will direct the Weather Bureau there and I hope he stops anything like this from ever happening again. I hope that maybe the new start can help us rebuild our lives again.