Friday, January 11, 2008

Even the Moon Cried

“Come along now, we mustn’t be late,” my mother insisted as she tugged me forward by my hand. I quickened my pace; I did not want to upset her tonight. It was April 14, 1865, the night that Abraham Lincoln was to attend the show Our American Cousin, and the last person I wanted seeing my mother scold me was my own president. I caught up to her and began looking around. I saw so many people talking, mingling around, not too many children though, yet an adult accompanied every child I saw. I kept close to my mother: not wanting to get lost in all the chaos. I breathed in the chilled, night air and gazed up at the stars. They shone brightly in the dark night sky. The full moon hung, stranded apart from the stars. As I looked at it, my eyes lead me to believe a large smile crossed it’s round face. I smiled back at it.

“Jane, what on earth are you up to?” my mother asked, “would you rather watch the still stars than the performance?”
“No Mother,” I answered in a shameful, low voice. I forced my gaze down to my polished black shoes as they clattered along the stones on the ground.
“Then hurry up darling,” my mother instructed. I did as I was told.

We found our seats after much trouble, and happily sat down. I flipped through the pages of my program. The number of actors and actresses overwhelmed me. I read through the brief preview of the performance, and when I was through sat quietly in my seat. I was confronted with so much time and so little things to do. My fingertips traced the fancy letters on the cover of the program that read: Our American Cousin.

“Jane darling, look up there,” my mother said softly, nudging my arm and gesturing toward the boxes in the back, specifically toward box seven’s balcony. There, I saw no one other than Abraham Lincoln.

“Goodness gracious,” I said under my breath. I had never imagined myself so close to such an important man. I looked again at my mother; she smiled and widened her eyes at my thrilled face. I giggled slightly, and sat back in my seat. Every moment I wanted to look back, but I knew quite well staring was impolite. Finally the show started, and I did my best to keep my curious eyes on the stage.

The actors and actresses were doing a magnificent job in the performance, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Then one of the performers said something so humorous everyone broke out in laughter. In the midst of all jolly voices, an unmistakable sound shook through Ford’s theatre. It was the sound of a single gun shoot. It did not come from the stage, that I was certain. I swirled around in my seat in desperation, and saw my most dreaded thought in my mind.

The president’s head hung low, and he slouched in the seat in which he sat. A man stood behind him with a gun visible in his hand. Everyone had seen it. Suddenly a military major who I guessed to be Major Henry Rathbone, leaped onto the man with the gun. But the man with the gun got away after quite a wrestle, and leaped from the balcony. It all happened so fast my eyes could hardly follow. Screams rang through the audience, and what I thought to be chaos outside earlier, did not resemble this by any means.

People ran and yelled, they cried and held each other, some going absolutely crazy. I felt a comfortingly firm hold on my shoulder from my mother. Remembering her presence, I turned and flung my arms around her in complete fright. It was then I saw the man with the gun. He leaped onto the stage and began to spew off words in a language I could not for the life of me understand. Then he ran again and out of the theatre.

It took much time to settle everyone down, and rightfully so. After all, it was our president who had just been murdered, and not to mention practically in front of our very own eyes! Though after all were quiet, a man entered form the back of the room and began to make his way down the aisle. He walked with pace and purpose, and although I do believe he was fully aware that every eye in the room was on him and intended to stay that way, he took absolutely no notice what so ever. My ears would not hear the words that came from his mouth when he reached the front of the room and began to speek, but to the forceful blow of the gunshot I had heard so clearly about an hour before. As I realized he was leading everyone out in an orderly fashion, I obediently followed every step my mother took. I held her hand far more tightly than I ever had. When we finally reached the door, I stepped out in relief. I was alive and unharmed. But my president on the other hand, was certainly not.

Everyone around me wept, even my own mother. I felt tears trickle down my cheeks. I gulped in the crisp, late night air, and desperately looked up at the sky as if expecting a miracle. Of course, it didn’t come. I looked all around for the moon, and finally found it. I wanted to see it’s smile, thinking perhaps, just perhaps, it would comfort me. Though to my dismay, what I found across the moon’s bright face was not a warm smile, but many, many cold tears.

Zoe Pacalin #22

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