Mary Z


CRASH! Screaming lightning bolts struck the ground. A fury of wind rampaged like an angry bull, coming to strike again- each time making her weak, restless body quiver. Her sinewy legs had given up long ago, but if she stopped, she would most surely die. Jill headed to take shelter underneath the creaky dock, as she had when she was a kid playing games, but she stopped. If she fell asleep, they would find her.  A silvery stream of tears gushed down her cheek. She said goodbye to the dock, and the tiny little shack she used to sleep in with her mother, whom she left behind at the camp.

Hour after hour, she stomped through the mud. She was cold, and her clothes where damp and ripped until you could see her shiny white skin seeping through. Her thin brown hair was a matted mess on top of her head.  Looking ahead, she almost fainted when she saw the dim yellow lanterns. A warm tent and delicious stew welcomed her, and although she had so wished to skip the food and go straight to bed, by now her stomach was screaming. And as the sly sun creeped up into its position in the sky, she chowed down bowl after bowl of oatmeal, and laid in her bed with thoughts of the journey overwhelming her. She had been told to think of the journey, and nothing but the journey, however sometimes she could not stop her mind from straying.  Jill wondered what it might have been like if she had stayed at the servants camp. She wondered about the sickly face of her mother now, as she was questioned on the whereabouts of her daughter. Jill had worked in a servants camp with her mother picking grapes. Moving in from Utah, their only concern was money. But there were problems: fighting, running, strikes, contracts- they never seemed to end.  But that seemed so long ago, a different world, a different story.

Now she must run. Run with the others. That was what her mother had said. As the afternoon sun beat down on their swollen faces, tickled with blood and early morning dew, they must begin. They packed up camp, and gathered what they could. Food would be scarce now, for they could not cook and must gather from nature. Walking forward, she could feel beating sunrays on her back. Hot and humid- the worst weather.  Ahead she heard rumbling noises. Unaware of their purpose, she treaded on. Screams- what had happened? Jill somberly awoke, realizing the chaotic crowd around her. A horrid thought struck her mind- they had been found.

Frozen with terror, men in white hats and gold suits stood, shooting at anyone who moved. She hoped they had spared the children, but staring at the ground, dead bodies of young and old alike had littered the forest floor. She remained a survivor. Two other men stood frozen as well, and had been left unharmed, but were loaded onto a truck for questioning.  Jill plummeted off into the darkness. She heard gunfire, but continued. As the moon took it’s mighty position in the sky, she rested. Aware of the path, she must make the journey alone.  Green forest leaves glistened over her brown head.  This was supposed to be the last- but most treacherous- day of her journey.

Walking forward, she hid in the shadows. “The shadows are your friends,” she heard her mother say. Jill had not understood this totally until now, and even then she questioned if it was the best choice. Staying in the shadows meant that she would have to step in muddy, damp areas where there might be deep quicksand. She had been in quicksand before, but thankfully her mother had been there to rescue and punish her afterward. Now she was alone, and decided to instead tread in the light. Up ahead, a large, silvery gray rock with a hole in it stuck out like a lake in a desert. She would have to squeeze through, and tread two more miles. Then she would be there. The squeeze was tight, but she hurriedly made it through.

Running through the woods, she didn’t stop until she saw lanterns. Tears struck her eyes like lightning, and she ran into the loving arms of her sister. The journey was over- and she was the last survivor.  Her sister had gone before her, in the older group. They could make the trip in one day. But her mother was too ill to join, and she would follow them in the spring. Now she happily feasted on whatever they had left, and walked to her new home. They had made the journey- the journey to Pittsburgh.


Little Stream

Where canoers row

A new world flows

Tied by your pale blue bow


A new world flows

Joint by your pale blue bow


To all who you bring home







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