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The Dark Hour

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There is a dark hour. A moment in man’s story when he is lost. A moment in my story… when I must weep. All schemed. There is no changing my story, but I may tell it.

And you may listen.

There is always a dark hour.


My eyes are dry. Some defense in my body has postponed my tears, for some radical hope of extending my life with the keeping of those few precious streaks down my cheeks. I would rather cry. My wife is in bed, dying. Her cheeks burn up. Her hands are ice. I hold them in mine, staring, not at her but at that unfocused point we all see when as delirious as I. My wife coughs hideously, rasping and choking instead of breathing. Air, it seems, does her no good. Red specks sprinkle the old wooden floors. I have seen this illness before. But I am no doctor. I just stare.

At last I think she’s dead. Still no tears; my body is too stubborn to grant me even those. For a moment I don’t feel hungry, nor do I crave the muddy water of this wretched island for this desolate hour. Dear reader, do not confuse my words with wrong meaning, for I was not and could not be ‘content’ at that moment. It was the content one feels when he has died.

But I’m alive.

So I might as well walk.


The dirt is sandy and blows in the morning current. Water from those wispy clouds has not graced us in months. As I’m taking a step toward the garden I hear my name, called sweetly as if a friendly reminder to water the crops. My head turns for a moment, maybe waits for an hour, a year, time is sick! then I’m walking again.

I convince myself with great success that she’s dead. Dead. My wife is dead. I tell myself she is lucky. There is not much mercy in this place. There is not much of anything in this place. But death.


The large, or, rather small, plot of crops is my unintentional first stop, for I have no desire to see them. But I stare, stare as anyone else would, asking how such things of strong hue could be so grey. The current speeds up, and a small rotting thing, perhaps a tomato, is lifted from the sandy brown like it was a bit of silk. It flies off; so light and airy it looks like an animal. A few look towards it, with desire to catch, cook, and eat it. Their stomachs tell them it’s a bird.

A large wind blows and the other vegetables are lifted. We do not care for them anymore. We will die here, for sure. Better not to die with the taste of rot on your tongue.

I see the weak little walls of our fort bubbling in the heat. I am not sane. There are feet dangling next to me. They sway a little. The sight of a hanging man is not new to me. Though, the head upon the crooked bone neck is a familiar one. I don’t know his name, but I know his crime. Blood stains his lips, his teeth, his hair. Hunger does awful things to a man.

I close my eyes. I don’t want to open them again. I remember when I was content. I remember my wife before her illness. I remember when I wore a tie. I forget… this place.

My ears deceive me with a reverberation of my name. No one calls it, now. I have not heard a friendly voice in a month, for I have no friends here. Not anymore. Hunger does that to a man, too.

However the voice was no delusion. I have been called from a nearby home, one of the last ones standing. Burning. The wood is burning with fire. A few try to put it out, but we have no water, nothing with which to stop the corrosive flames. We may only stare. My hunger must be coming up because I imagine a large animal cooking atop the whistling orange. Fat drips into the fire, making it flicker and crackle gloriously. Others share my delusion, and stare at the sparks with clenched teeth. A few jump eagerly into the flames, and are burned.

My fantasy ends when I spot the opening to the wilderness beyond our great doors. I walk, nay, I run there. My hand runs along the prickly bark of the clumsy walls. I am at the gate. My mind stops there but my legs are mechanical and walk. I try to control myself. But I can’t. Now it’s just instinct. And I’m an animal.

Soon little eyes peek at me from behind foliage. Now I’m so far out… I’m in their territory. The leaves pick up whispers. I’m walking, walking… stumbling, stumbling… creeping, creeping… crawling, crawling. At last I’m out of breath. Tired, as my wife had been when she died on the floor of our little home. Perspiration darkens the sediment. My face lies in the dirt. At last my feet are numb. I am still.

A man steps out from behind the bark of a thick tree. To call him a man would be inaccurate, for he is as large as a horse. A variety of paints stain his chest, his arms, and even his hair. He is one of them. In his hand he wields an axe-like weapon. It is worn. And sharp. It is easily lifted high above his head, and then lowered dramatically. He is taunting me. I get up. I don’t know how but maybe this is what I saved my tears for. He raises the axe again. It isn’t lowered. The beast starts toward me swinging it lightly above his head. I’ve got nothing but a cracked heart and an empty world to watch me.

So I raise my fists.


My dear sir, there is always a dark hour. A time when man doesn’t cry but puts his hands to his face and listens. So listen, dear reader. That dark hour is here. My dark hour you have seen. My dark hour is not unique. It is the same hour that many met in those years of 1609 to 1610, the same desolate hour of our lives in which only the fittest survived. Dear reader, this hour is Jamestown.



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This article has 4 comments. Post your own!

AthenaMarisaDeterminedbyFateThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Mar. 16 at 11:28 pm:
I really love your portrayals of significant moments in history, because they capture the moment so well, and this was no exception. My only suggestion would be to make some slight distinctions between what is an illusion and what is reality, but incredible piece overall.
 
Super_Mario_ProseThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 17 at 10:25 am :
Thank you! ;)
 
kmeepThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
today at 11:33 am :
You are so good at using details in your writing, I can picture what is going on!
 
Super_Mario_ProseThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
today at 6:16 pm :
Ha, thanks! ;)
 
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