S: Je N'ai Pas de Mots, I Have No Words | Abigail K. Mauro
BC: Abigail Kathryn Mauro is an aspiring news anchor and author, even at the age of 13. She finds inspiration in music, nature, and love, which fuels her drive to create artwork. In her free time, she enjoys drawing, singing, and acting. Abigail hopes to one day travel abroad, exploring away from her Pennsylvania home. | Abigail Kathryn Mauro | "If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliché that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that's his problem. Love and peace are eternal." John Lennon
FC: Je N'ai Pas de Mots | Written and Illustrated by Abigail K. Mauro | I Have No Words
1: I Have No Words | Je N'ai Pas de Mots
2: Je N'ai Pas de Mots is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. | Printed in the United States of America
3: This book is dedicated with love to my wonderful sister, Melanie Grace Mauro and to my great friends, Fatimata Sall and Daniel Weld, for always making me laugh and supporting me
4: Death is imminent. I gaze out of my tiny window, looking out to the monotone gray sky. It's definitely going to rain today. Everything looks hazy – exactly the way my mind has felt for the past few days. Ever since Soleil, my twin sister, has been infected with the plague... Well, my once colorful world seems to dim to shades of gray. The people of Bordeaux, France have finally been hit by the Great Plague, and my undeserving sibling is one of its victims. If you must know, I don’t approve of its name; this horrible epidemic isn’t great at all. I think something with ‘black’ in it would suit better, since that’s really all those who are affected see in their last days.
5: I don't really know how it happened, my sister contracting this disease. Sure, I suppose we're pretty malnourished, but we've always been alright like that. It could've happened when she was out scrounging for food for us; maybe the person Soleil stole from passed it onto her, or maybe it was an oh-so-dreadful rat. Either way, I've been telling her to stay in bed as of late, and that I'm going to try and find vinegar and water to wash her with - I hear that it helps. Right now, I can't help but reminisce of the better times, before the Plague hit Europe in 1347, and when we still had wealth. Yes, everything was better before...
6: Our family, the Leroys, were very wealthy before - until the Battle of Crécy about three years ago. Our father, Reynard, was a renowned surgeon while our mother, Monessa, was a very skilled nurse. They were sent to be medics during the Battle, and were slaughtered by the English. That left my siblings and I on our own, and soon, we became very poor. We were sent off to work on a manor as peasants. | Soleil and I were fortunate enough to keep possession of our own clothes. Our brother, Tomas, was not so lucky. One day, my twin sister and I decided we were going to escape from that prison. As she and I informed Tomas of our plan, he offered to stay behind and cover for us. Soleil and I escaped. I still wonder what became of Tomas.
7: "Nadia..." my twin calls in a wavering voice. Although my stomach fills with nervous butterflies, I'm by her side in a second. “Soleil, are you alright? Are the boils hurting you again?” I ask with concern flooding my voice. | All of this first started a few days ago, when my green-eyed sibling begun complaining of pounding headaches, bouts of nausea, and sneezing. After that came soreness, chills, and fever, all of which have left her exhausted and prostrate. Within a day or two after that, the swellings appeared. They're hard, putrid lumps on her neck and underarms, which soon turned black. These horrid black boils have turned Soleil’s once flawless, olive skin into what looks like a battlefield.
8: Soleil nods, wavy wisps of her brunette hair falling in front of her face. I brush them away with conscious care, so as not to cause any more pain to my twin than she's already in. Even without words, her eyes tell me of her gratitude, sparkling like emeralds. “Do you remember what happened three years ago, mon cher? When Edward III of England attacked at Crécy?” Soleil chokes out, sweat running down her face. I know she's feeling an unrelenting pain, because not even an hour before, she described how the lumps feel as if they're burning. In response to her quiet question, I say: “Yes sister, I do. Philip VI was beaten, and many of the cavalry were slaughtered.” Thunder claps in the distance. It just confirms my belief that the clouds will soon shed their weight onto our ravaged Earth.
9: “Yes, that’s it. I remember my fear of the English after that event, and how I wished that they would suffer. But now-” Soleil wretches over as a wild fit of coughing wracks her slight form. “But now, I realize that was completely wrong of me. This plague has reached them too, and I’m sure their death toll is double of what the cavalry’s was. They’ve paid their price, and with innocents at that. The only good thing is that, for the time being, they can’t harm our beautiful country of France.” To my horror, tears begin to roll out of my eyes like a flood gate being opened. Soleil is so pure, so loving, and so beautiful at heart. That’s why she can’t die - I'm sure that there are so many other people who are more deserving of this fate than her!
10: The said dying girl notices my grief and smiles gently, bringing a shaky hand to my face and wiping my warm tears away. “Don’t cry, mon cher,” Soleil whispers with such love that it overwhelms me. I feel a sharp pang at the familiarity of those words, for I've heard them so many times before. When our parents died, Soleil said the exact same thing to me, and she’s what helped me through that time. And mon cher... that's been her name for me ever since we were little, and even then I was ‘my dear’ to her. That's her phrase. Just like it's her spirit now being broken. This is the point where I can't take it anymore. I let out a mournful sob. Soleil shouldn't by dying; she's only 15 years young! | And even though she's the one dying while I'm perfectly healthy, she holds me as I cry. It should be the other way around, but it's not. Soleil is just that selfless.
11: After I have cried myself dry, I meet Soleil’s tired green eyes with my wet hazel ones. We both know it is time. As we gaze at each other, person seeing person, best friend seeing best friend, sister seeing sister, a plethora of cherished memories pass between us. This is our final closure, our final memory made together. She smiles at me. One last, perfect smile as she sees that I've finally accepted the tragedies that fate has presented to us... and slowly, exhaustedly, closes her eyes. | The peaceful smile lingers on her lips. Soleil, the angel at heart, now looks like one, too. “Goodnight, mon cher,” I whisper with a voice drowned in the sorrow of a soul that has just lost its other half.
12: 3 Years Later | The Black Death, as it's now being called, had struck Europe with a scourging hand. People's lives are still on the mend, as is mine. After the last moment that my beloved twin and I shared, I wandered out onto the street. I was correct in the fact that I had predicted rain - as I stepped onto the dirty streets of Bordeaux, light drops of water began falling from the Heavens, as if God Himself was weeping at the loss of one of His truly beautiful creations. Tomas was waiting there for me. As my eyes met his, I believed myself to be hallucinating, until he ran up and embraced me. Teary-eyed and giddy, he told me of how Lord Simon, the lord of the manor we worked on, had known our parents personally and granted himself, my sister, and I legal freedom. Tomas then paused to look, and I mean really look at me. "Where is Soleil anyways, Nadia?" my brother questioned, still delighted to see me after so long. I remained silent for a few moments, then recounted to him the events that had just unfolded. Shock overtook him first, then deep grief. We both began to sob, but at least we could weep together.
13: So, here we are now, my brother and I. He found work, I did too, and we began slowly restoring our wealth. Many people recognized the Leroy name and assisted us in our recovery, and now we are once again in good standing. As of now, I'm 18, and approaching middle age. However much I wish to spend growing old with my twin, it will not change a thing. I'm walking home to my family's estate, carrying newly bought food, and I hear quiet conversation going on around me: "Thank the Lord that the Plague has passed on now! I was blessed to have been spared!" "Oh I know! I've heard that 25 million people died, something like 1/4 of the European population. That's why I've decided to become a nun, to pray that this agonizing epidemic shall not come again!" "That's wonderful, Ophelia! Although, I did hear that the Church really took a toll from the Plague, considering that many clergy died and they appear powerless. But there is good coming from all of this - apparently, there are supposed to be advances in medicine soon, so that we're better prepared in case a disease comes about again!" I continue walking. Those women were spared, as was I. Does that mean anything? I wonder. As I stride on, pondering that thought, I look back at the conversing women and see a slender, hazy figure behind them. I blink, and then it's gone. I wonder who it was; they had the most amazing, emerald green eyes.
16: Marks, Geoffrey. The Medieval Plague; the Black Death of the Middle Ages. Garden City, NY: Doubleday &, 1971. Print. Medieval World ; Abeland -- Burgandy: Volume 1. Danbury, CT: Grolier Educational, 2001. Print. Pirotta, Saviour. Health and Medicine. London, England: Smart Apple Media, 2005. Print. | Bibliography
17: © Abigail Kathryn Mauro