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Plague

Olivia Summers walked home four hours early from school. It had been officially closed due to the high amount of small pox spreading throughout its halls. She arrived at her newly built brick home on Bell Street. It looked deserted, all the curtains closed, and deathly quiet. However, there was life inside – her mother, brother, and two sisters – all with smallpox. Olivia’s father, sister, and younger brother had already died from the disease. She was the only one left who had not caught it, and was forced to live in the guesthouse away from the disease-infected house.

Just then, the doctor who visited regularly came out of the house, as well as the permanent nurse who stayed with the sick family members. They walked up to her, the nurse holding a sealed letter.

“Olivia,” Dr, Raji said with his usual concrete expression. “You’re mother heard about the school closing. She wrote this letter for you. It’s about your education…” He glanced at the nurse, and she handed Olivia the letter.

She opened it slowly, afraid of what might be inside. She peeled off the wax seal with her finger, and pulled out the wrinkled page. There were words on both sides, with another page attached.





My Dearest Olivia,

Dr. Raji told me about the school a few days ago and how it would most likely be closing. I should have thought about this earlier. For now, the only thing I can think of is getting you as far away from this infected place as possible. I should have done it a long time ago. I cannot risk you staying here anymore. That is why I am sending you to the boarding school I attended when I was young. It is in a very isolated spot in Minnesota. I know it is very far away, but it is among beautiful hills, meadows, and trees – you will love it. I already filled out your application and the paperwork. The school is called Meadow Woods Boarding School. I also gave a thousand dollars to Dr. Raji to give to you. It is a lot – do not waste it. You are going to be living on your own, so you will need it. Be responsible. The other paper in the envelope is your acceptance letter. I love you.

Stay safe,

Mother


Olivia dropped the letter, and watched it flutter in the wind. She still had the acceptance letter in her other hand. There was no possible way she could go to Minnesota. She was heartbroken. How could she leave behind all of her sick family and friends? She didn’t know if she could bear it. They could die while she was gone. Olivia felt intense pressure and stress on her shoulders, as if the weight of the world was crushing her. She fainted, and slowly and gracefully fell to the sidewalk next to the feet of Dr. Raji.


~.~


The year was 1869. There were outbreaks of small pox in major cities in the United States like New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, etc. Millions of people were dying. Meanwhile, many scientists were looking for cures to stop the disease. Eventually they would, but not until the mid 1900’s.

The plague came to Olivia’s hometown, Philadelphia, in 1867. Within a year, it had killed her younger brother and sister. By the next year, her father had caught a bad case of it that had killed him. Soon, it had affected the rest of her family, as well as almost all of her friends.

Soon, Madeline, the permanent nurse came to live with them. She took care of Olivia’s family as she lived in the garage. Dr. Raji – a very intelligent Asian doctor- was doing his best to keep them alive. Her mother caught it two weeks earlier, and within the next week, the rest of the children received it except for Olivia. Dr. Raji thought it was a miracle. Even though he tried his best, they were getting worse. All she could do was pray.

Olivia sat on the windowsill of the second floor of the small guesthouse. She looked out onto the street, waiting for the buggy that would take her to the train station downtown. She had on her traveling dress – a slim, light blue knee-length dress with a floral pattern. It looked well against her pale skin, and brown hair. She was sixteen, turning seventeen in a few months.

She didn’t know how she would handle attending a boarding school; especially in Minnesota– hundreds of miles away from Pennsylvania. Not being able to see her sick family until Christmas – three months away was heartbreaking.

Soon the buggy that was being towed by two chestnut brown horses pulled up, and Olivia packed her luggage in the cab, and sat in the backseat. Minnesota was only established eleven years ago; she felt as if there was no time for it to get civilized.

“I love you!” she called to the direction of the brick house that she wouldn’t see again for three months. Olivia hoped her mom had heard her; apparently, the cab driver thought she was crazy by the look he flashed her.

Within an hour, they had made it to the train station. It was a quiet ride. Olivia paid the driver, and boarded train 53; destination: Saint Paul, approximately two hours away from Meadow Woods Boarding School, or so the acceptance letter said. A cab would take her to the school – the fee paid by them as well.

Olivia fell asleep during the ride. Evening settled in, the stars shining down onto the small black cab, holding a secret that only time would tell. Little did anyone know from the Summer’s household that there was an old nightgown buried deep within Olivia’s suitcase. A nightgown that had belonged to Mrs. Summers the night small pox first infected her – the one that she had been wearing. Even though it had been washed many times, traces of the bacteria lingered. Bacteria that could be easily spread…

The cab stopped in front of the gates that sealed the entrance into the Meadow Woods Estate. From the cab, Olivia could see a huge mansion on top of a hill about fifteen acres away, surrounded by many smaller hills and trees. Candlelight shone through its hundreds of windows.

The driver opened the gate with a key, and drove toward the school. They arrived at the front entrance; the two glass doors were open, and a man dressed in a black suit stood in the doorway. Olivia guessed it was the headmaster. She unloaded her luggage and made her way toward the man.

“Welcome, Olivia Summers, to Meadow Woods Boarding School! We are very excited to have you joining us. My name is Headmaster Simmons. I hope you enjoy your stay here. Let me help you with your bags – the other students are finishing dinner. I will show you to your dorm, then I will have the chef cook you something to eat. Follow me please.”

“Thank-you,” Olivia replied. She thought he was a very nice man.

Headmaster Simmons led her to the northwest corner of the massive building, where the older portions of the girl’s dorms were. They arrived at room 187. He said that Olivia’s roommate would be a girl named Cynthia, whom was 16 as well. After setting her luggage down, she followed Headmaster Simmons to the dining hall, where all the other students were just leaving. They stared Olivia down, making her blush.

Olivia sat down at one of the vacant tables, looking at the majestic candle chandelier hanging high above in the center of the room, and the tapestries that covered most of the walls. The chef personally brought out Olivia a dish of chicken and rice. She thanked him, and he bowed.

The headmaster sat down across from Olivia. They talked about her education, and her life in Philadelphia. He was a genuinely curious person, and very kind. Olivia was just about to finish her meal when he came in – a tall, dark-haired tanned boy who looked about 18. He came up to Headmaster Simmons, and whispered something in his ear. He turned a dark shade of red, and stood up.

“Olivia, I have to go take care of something with one of the teachers. Drew Smith here will escort you back to your room.” He point to the tall boy, then turned to him and said, “She’s in 187.” Drew nodded, and watched as the headmaster hastily exited. Drew turned to look at Olivia then; she turned her head away blushing.

“Follow me,” was all he said.

She did what he asked, staring at the ground most of the time. They were about half way to her dorm when he broke the silence. “So…why did you come to Meadow Woods?” Olivia could tell he was very shy, and it took him awhile to get the courage to ask. Right now though, she felt shyer then he did.

“Um…well it wasn’t really my choice… you see, my entire family has caught the small pox plague that broke out in Philly. My school was closed down, and my mother sent me here since it is far away, from where the epidemics are happening. This is also where she went to school.” She didn’t believe she actually just said all of that. Olivia had planned to just reply simply, but she seemed to melt away, and reveal the truth that she didn’t feel like mentioning.

He stared at her, his green eyes melting away any shyness Olivia once felt. They looked like they were glistening with genuine sadness. “I’m so sorry to hear that. But you must be lucky then. Only…” He stopped talking like he was afraid to say something. He just continued to stare at her.

“So…” Olivia began, still mesmerized by his eyes. “What room number are you?” She felt like she shouldn’t have said this, but it slipped out. Nevertheless, he didn’t seem to mind. After all, he knew where her room was.

“303,” he said quickly. They were almost to Olivia’s room. “Do you want me to come by your room tomorrow and show you around?”

“Sure,” Olivia said even faster. They were at her room now. She went in slowly, still looking at Drew.

“Goodnight,” he said,

“Goodnight.”

Olivia walked to her bed, dazed. She sat down slowly, unaware of her new roommate staring at her from across the room.

“Hello,” Cynthia said.

Olivia jumped. She finally noticed Cynthia who was looking at her as if she was crazy just as the cab driver had done.

“Oh, sorry; I didn’t see you there. My name is Olivia.”

This softened her expression a bit. “I am Cynthia - nice to meet you.”

The two new roommates began talking. They quickly became good friends within the first hour. However, when Cynthia offered to show her around tomorrow, Olivia turned her down, telling her that Drew Smith was going to show her around. This seemed to hurt her a bit, and she made up the excuse that she was tired. She turned around on her bed, her back now facing Olivia.

Olivia didn’t take notice, too preoccupied with thinking of Drew. She changed into her nightgown, calculating how there must have been roughly 300-400 students. Olivia fell asleep quickly, anxious for tomorrow.

That night the stars shone through the window of the room, lighting up Olivia’s face. They were counting down to the night when she would put on the nightgown still buried at the bottom of her suitcase. However, this time the stars were thinking of two things –both plagues. The small pox plague, yes, but this time something else – the plague of love.

Morning came quickly, just as Olivia had hoped. She got ready, dressing in a corset and a very beautiful light yellow gown. Perfect for occasions like the first day of a new boarding school. Olivia said goodbye to Cynthia as she left for her first class.

Drew came just as he said he would, escorting her to English. Coincidentally, they both had almost the exact same schedules. He being there beside Olivia most of the day helped take away the feeling of embarrassment every time the other students looked at the new girl.

The day was going wonderful until that evening when a letter from home came. Another one of her sisters had died the day before not long after Olivia had left. The news sent her deeper into the depression that she had – the one that was seemingly disappearing after meeting Drew. Olivia cried herself to sleep that night.

After her last class the next day, Olivia exited the school, making her way down to a small pond a short walk away from the main building. She sat down next to the pond, crying once more. She was in a spiraling depression – she lost four family members in two years, and could possibly lose three more. She was staring into the pond when she felt someone sit down next to her.

She glanced over and saw Drew sitting cross-legged, staring intently into the pond as she was. He looked at her and saw her tears still sticking to her cheeks. He wiped them away with his finger, staring into her hazel eyes.

“You know,” he said quietly, “That it’s not good to be this depressed.”

“I know that,” Olivia snapped. “But I can’t choose how I control it.”

“Yes you can. You need to think positive, and control yourself.” He looked into the pond once more before looking back at her. “Maybe I can help you with that.” He leaned over, still looking at her eyes, before kissing her with caring and compassion.

Olivia leaned backwards after a few seconds, looking at Drew’s face. “You know,” she said teasingly, “You are very unusual.”

“Am I?”

“Maybe,” she replied, leaning against his shoulder with a sigh.

That night, Olivia made it to the bottom of her suitcase. She slipped on her mother’s nightgown without thinking of whose it actually was. She crawled into bed, still thinking of her kiss, completely unaware of what was going to happen.

The stars looked down upon Olivia’s face. The plagues of love and death battled with each other, oblivious to the world. Death came closer to Olivia, only being held back by love. However, love would not be enough to save her; for most, love is the plague of death.

Olivia woke up in the morning screaming. Red dots bulged from her body, feeling pain everywhere. She ran screaming into the halls, Cynthia running after her, trying to figure out what was happening. By the time Olivia had made it to the headmaster’s office, the entire school was awoken. Headmaster Simmons looked up from his papers, and gasped at Olivia, immediately knowing what had happened.

He took her to the hospital ward, where she remained for two weeks. No visitors were allowed. The stars watched Olivia for every night of those two weeks – waiting. On the fourteenth night, Olivia laid there dying, wishing nothing more to see Drew for one last time. Her final wish was fulfilled.

That night, the headmaster and the nurses sat outside Olivia’s room, guarding the entrance knowing there was nothing left they could do. Back inside the room, Olivia noticed the window creak open, and a pair of hands followed by a body came through – Drew.

“Drew!” She moaned so quietly he could barely hear her. He briskly walked over to her side, knowing full consequences of what he was doing.


“Olivia, I’m so sorry,” he said with a groan.

“Don’t be. I love you, and you love me. That’s all that mattered.”

“Don’t leave me,” he said begging.

“You know I don’t want to but I’m not going to make it. You know it. Drew, I love you. Promise me you will meet me in the stars.” Olivia said this, struggling to breathe.

“I promise,” he said, tears now pouring out of his eyes.

Olivia closed her eyes for the last time. She joined the stars in their eternal existence – having died within the presence of someone she loved, who had saved her. Forever.

After Olivia had died, Drew caught the small pox. Without a doubt he knew he was getting it from that final moment he had with Olivia – the one in which he didn’t care if he got the plague or not.

However, this was different. The stars watched Drew, waiting, just as they waited for Olivia. Two plagues within one – Olivia, dying from the plague of death, and Drew, the plague of love – taking that last moment to be with the one he adored. The love that would cost him his life.

He joined Olivia among the stars, where they would be happy forever. If you had ever asked the question, “How did they die?” Then the response you would receive would be “love”.





Join the Discussion

This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

A_Dreamer said...
Jun. 21, 2010 at 9:24 pm
That's a REALLY good story! I loved it! & I knew that Olivia was going to die, but it's very sweet how you put Drew died of love. :)
 
jaredwriter19 replied...
Jun. 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm
Thanks...honestly I wrote this so long ago I don't really remember what happens...loll :D
 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 18, 2010 at 6:38 pm

This was amazing!  Very emotional and sweet, and the last paragraph is great.  Keep writing!

Btw, will you check out and comment on my work?

 
jaredwriter19 replied...
Jun. 18, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Thanks! I read one of yours - Aging Love. It was awesome!

Be sure to check out my others stories :P

 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 18, 2010 at 7:44 pm
Sure I will:)
 
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