The Jacob Chronicles
RECORDATUS ERIS IN LUMINE
Art and story by Vincent Peters
Don’t cry for me now I have died, for I’m still here I’m by your side,
My body’s gone but my soul is here, please don’t shed another tear,
I am still here. I’m all around, only my body lies in the ground.
I am the snowflake that kisses your nose,
I am the frost that nips your toes.
I am the sun, bringing you light,
I am the star, shining so bright.
I am the rain, refreshing the earth,
I am the laughter, I am the mirth.
I am the bird, up in the sky,
I am the cloud that’s drifting by.
I am the thoughts inside your head,
While I’m still there, I can’t be dead. ~ Author Unknown
* * *
The week had marked the tenth anniversary of the loss of her parents at the hands of a drunk driver, and, as it always did, it weighed heavy on her heart. Little did the then ten-year-old Sarah know that when she told them goodbye that day that they would never return from their outing. Her life had been shattered that day, and the intervening years had been spent picking up the pieces of her young life.
She had learned to better deal with her occasional bouts with emotions when memories would surface, but it remained difficult for her to face the actual day itself. That was, until two years ago, when she began corresponding with a young man from Manhattan through a Pen Pal program she had enrolled in who, in time, would change her life for the better – forever.
* * *
As the day approached, Jacob had invited her to come below at the request of his family, to join them in an observance in the Tunnels that he felt would, in time, greatly help her make peace with this day.
She dressed for the occasion and made her way below at the appointed time. Jacob was assisting his family with the final preparations and had asked her to meet him in his chamber.
Sarah sat alone lost in her thoughts. The comforting, gentle glow of the candlelight around her was in stark relief to the formal, dark suit she wore. Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t keep her tears at bay, which gave rise to a new and separate feeling of distress as she knew Jacob would feel all of this.
She rose to greet him when he respectfully entered his chamber, likewise clad in far more formal and dark attire than he was wont to wear. “I’m here, Sarah,” he spoke softly as he took her into his arms.
“I’m so sorry, Jacob, I really am. I know you can feel all of this and I don’t want you to have to be burdened by it.”
“It’s not a burden, Sarah,” he said softly.
“How could it not be?” she asked, looking up into his face in concern.
When her gaze met his, she could see only compassion in his eyes. “It is never a burden to comfort those you love. These last two years I would have given anything to have been there with you; to be more than present in spirit or as words on a page, comforting as those instances may have been. Despite my desire to truly be there for you then, the time was not yet right but now, I can do all those things I would have wanted to then. Yes, I do feel your pain, that is true, but I bear it willingly that we may make this journey – together.”
“Thank you, Jacob. For this — for everything.”
“You are most sincerely welcome, Sarah. “
A soft, almost reluctant tapping came from the chamber opening. When it became clear that it was all right to enter, Mary stepped across the threshold of the chamber. She said not a word but walked directly over to Sarah and hugged her. “Oh, my dear child, I know this is very late in coming, but I am so sorry for your loss.” When the hug ended, Mary took Sarah’s hands in her own and offering her the warmest of smiles said,” I’ve been around these old tunnels a time or two and have experienced many times like this above and below. If there is ever anything I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to seek me out, my dear. You’re part of this family and this community now and that means you are just as subject to my ever present helpfulness as anyone else.”
Sarah nodded, a hint of a smile on her face. “Thank you, Mary.”
“Father wanted me to let you know that they will meet you two at the Remembrance Chamber in about ten minutes.”
“Thank you, Nana. We’ll be there.”
Mary gave Sarah one last warm and comforting smile and left to join the others.
* * *
There were many chambers in the residential levels of the World Below, but one stood out above the rest in the minds and hearts of the community, The Chamber of Remembrance. It was the only chamber not darkened at night, and other than the sentry posts in the tunnels above, it was the only one that people stood watch over day and night, if only in an honorary capacity.
As they approached, Sarah noticed that it was oddly quiet here compared to other spaces. There were no pipes here and the rock formations almost completely muted the occasional rumblings of the subway trains above. They walked along the tunnel, hand in hand. No words were spoken; none had to be.
At the end of the passage, they came to one of the only chambers with doors. The doors stood open, flanked by two members of the community’s Honor Guard, each holding a torch. Above the doors, carved into the arch of the entrance were the words Recordatus Eris In Lumine.
“What does the inscription mean, Jacob?”
“It’s Latin. It means You will be remembered in the Light. Papa will explain everything once we join them.”
They passed through the doorway and into a large, obviously man-made, circular chamber. Its walls were adorned with countless small alcoves extending from the floor to halfway to the ceiling, each filled with candles and other small, personal mementos. Each alcove bore small, engraved wooden placards displaying family names. There, at the far end of the chamber, standing before the alcove marked WELLS was her entire extended family. As they walked closer, she saw that another name had, quite recently, been added – HANCOCK.
“Welcome, my dear,” Father said softly but warmly before he began the ceremony. He turned to face the gathering saying, “Once a year, families of our community gather in this chamber to rededicate new candles lit in the memory of those of our world and our helpers above, who have passed on. Today we have assembled not only to rededicate the candles of our family, but to place into our alcove a memorial candle to honor the family of Sarah Hancock.
“Sarah, as you can imagine, in this world light, to us, has a very special meaning. It is safety, it brings comfort in the darkness with its warmth and drives that darkness away. Those who live here and those who help us above all bring light into our world. When they pass on, we light these candles to symbolize that though they are absent from our world, the light they brought into it never dies and it is here, in these lights around you, that the light of their lives continues to shine. When these candles have run their course, we extinguish them to mark the passing of the individual and light a new candle in its place, that their light may continue to fill our lives and our world.”
Father concluded his remarks and, as the head of the family, was the first to rededicate the lights of their alcove. Taking a small, silver candle douter in hand, he turned to the candles and gently put the first out. He then took another candle from a holder nearby and lit the awaiting candle beside it. “I light this candle for Margaret Wells, my wife.” When the new candle was burning bright, he handed the lighting candle to Vincent and Catherine.
They took their place before the candles and did the same as Father had done.
Vincent was the first to speak. “I light this candle for Anna Pater, my mother.” The candle was then handed over to Catherine. “I light this candle for Charles and Caroline Chandler, my parents.”
Mouse then took the candle in hand. “I light this candle for Winslow, my friend.”
Mouse handed the candle off to Mary who said in a voice tinged with longing and love, “I light this candle for my son and all the children of this world who have passed on.”
Finally the candle was handed over to Sarah. She looked up at Jacob. “I’m not sure I can bring myself to say it. You’d think after all these years that I could but…”
He held her hand a little tighter. “Then I will say it with you.”
The two stepped up to the alcove and she looked down at the candle with her family name on it, at once awash with sadness for her loss and gratitude for her extended family. The others stepped back respectfully to give her some privacy.
Sarah took a deep calming breath and together they lit the candle, reciting, “I light this candle for William and Abigail Hancock,” Jacob let her finish alone to help with closure for his beloved,”… my mom and dad. I love you.”
The candles now burning anew, added their light to the chamber around them and in it Sarah found some of the peace and closure that she had been searching for these last ten years. She simply stood there watching the newborn flame dance and bob alongside the others, resting her head on Jacob’s shoulder. She wasn’t exactly certain when it had happened, but eventually, she found herself surrounded by her extended family, each placing a hand on her shoulders as Father closed the ceremony by saying, “Recordatus eris in luce in aeternum. You will be remembered in the light, forever.”
* * *
When the two reached the basement of the apartment building, Sarah looked at the ladder that would return her to her world, but still felt the tug of the world below.
“I will meet you on the balcony as soon as I am able. It’s nearly sundown so it won’t be long to wait now and,” he paused to take her hand, ”I informed the others before we left that I will not be coming back down until after sunset tomorrow if not later should you need me to stay further.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
Jacob put his forehead to hers and purred softly for a moment before he tapped the side of his head. “You don’t have to say anything, Sarah. I already know.”
* * *
Darkness had scarcely come to dominate the sky outside when the welcome, warm rush of the feeling with no name flowed through her, announcing that Jacob was very close by. Fast on its heels came a tapping from the balcony door.
Sarah rolled over and saw his cloaked silhouette standing just beyond the door, outlined in the lights of the buildings beyond. With the lights dimmed she couldn’t make out his face, but, somehow, she knew his warm smile was there nevertheless. She turned off the music she had been listening to and got up to greet him.
They lingered in their customary hug, wave after wave of contentment, gratitude, love and affection with a lingering echo of longing and pain flowed from Sarah in an unspoken chorus heard only by him. He knew exactly how she felt, but he needed to hear it for himself. “How are you feeling, Sarah?”
She knew he didn’t have to ask that question, but hearing him say it was just as meaningful to her. “ I am surprisingly better than I usually am on this anniversary. What you and your family did for me today has really helped a lot. Everything happened so fast that day and all the days after it that I never really had time to just — really come to terms with it all. “
Jacob nodded and brushed several stray hairs from her face. “I’m glad to hear that it has helped to , perhaps, give you a better sense of closure than you have had in the past. The entire community wished me to convey to you their respects and their well wishes, and I have something here for you from the Munchkins.” Jacob led her over to the bed and took a large, black knapsack off his shoulders and set it between them as they sat. “Many of them are far too young to adequately understand your situation but they do know that you have been feeling sad and they wanted to do something for you. They know about your nickname for me and it inspired them greatly. Nana enlisted the help of the sewing circle and, with the help of the children, they made this for you.” He reached into the knapsack and produced a stuffed bear, dressed in an outfit very similar to his day to day attire.” Sarah, allow me to introduce Jacob, the Teddy Bear.”
Sarah couldn’t help but to smile.
“They also sent this along with it. It was written by Erica. She has the best penmanship of the Munchkins.”
He handed her a small sheet of note paper folded in half and decorated with stickers and smiling faces, lovingly crafted in crayon. She unfolded the paper and inside found the message.
We are very sorry that you are feeling sad . We made this bear to keep you company when Jacob is here with us. We hope you feel better soon. We love you!
Sarah set the note down and looked at the bear in her lap.” I am so going to hug the stuffing out of those kids when I see them again.”
“I will be sure to give them ample warning.”
Jacob looked out the bedroom doors toward the living room. ” We are about to have company.”
“Company?” Sarah jumped a bit when knock came from the door of her apartment. She noticed instantly that Jacob had not made a retreat for the shadows, nor had his feral side made any complaint at potential intruders.
“You might want to answer that.”
Still a little puzzled, she set the Bear down and rose to answer the door. When she looked out the spyhole she couldn’t believe her eyes. She opened the door fully.” Mary? William? um….come in, please.”
“I know this is very unexpected, dear, and we don’t want to intrude on your time together but–well– at times like these most people have a lot on their minds and cooking for themselves shouldn’t have to be one of them.”
Mary and William came through the door carrying between them a chest, slightly smaller than a foot locker. They set the chest down just outside of the kitchen as Sarah closed the apartment door behind them.
William approached and hugged her.” Sarah, in the last year that you’ve come to know us down below, you’ve helped our world with some of its needs time and time again especially when it came to the children. Now it’s time for our world to help you. I’ve got a bunch of meals here all ready to go, just heat ‘em and eat ‘em. They all keep pretty good, so just keep ‘em cold, this should last you a good week.”
Sarah looked at the chest, then at Jacob who stood there quietly in the doorway of the bedroom enjoying the moment. She turned to address Mary and William but as she searched for words, emotions overtook her.” I—I…”
Mary knew the look all too well. “You don’t have to say anything, dear”, she said with all the warmth in her heart as she took Sarah hands in her own. “I’ve seen that look in your eyes so many times from so many of those we’ve helped start over below. It’s genuine and it speaks volumes all by itself. Now– you take care of yourself and if you need anything and I mean anything, we’re just a tap on the pipes away.”
Sarah nodded, smiling back at Mary and William. “I’ll do that. I promise.”
Not wanting to overstay their welcome, Mary headed for the door with William close behind her. “Good night, you two”, his grandmother said as she walked out into the hallway.
“Good night, Sarah”, William added with a nod of respect as he bid her farewell and made his way to the elevator.
She shut the door and turned to find Jacob already placing the food into the refrigerator. At that moment she was certain, that she would have to seriously change her definition of family.
* * *
Sarah knew that he was not accustomed to bright light and she always preferred to light the apartment with the glow of candles or the fireplace when he would visit. This, not only, provided for a far more relaxing and causal atmosphere but allowed a part of his world to exist within hers.
Jacob sat on the sofa in his night clothes, looking into the glow of the fireplace lost in his thoughts. Outside, a light rain was falling, it’s shadows dancing across the floor of the living room. Sarah stood in the doorway of the bedroom gazing fondly at the scene. She walked across the room and curled up beside him with a picture frame in her hand.
They both sighed contentedly then chuckled saying, “ Jinx!”
“I sense a great deal of inner peace from you right now.”
“I was just in the bedroom looking at a photograph of my folks on the dresser and I suddenly realized, this was the first time I could look at it and not feel like I was on the verge of tears.”
“That sounds like a very encouraging step forward in healing.”
“It’s the most progress I’ve made in ten years, that’s for sure. I don’t think I’ve shown you this yet, have I?” She handed him the photograph.
“No you haven’t. When was this taken?”
“I was eight years old. We took a picnic out to a park not far from home. It was sort of our go to spot for family outing time. I look like such a dweeb in that picture–all knees and elbows and those pig tails,” she chuckled at herself,” what was I thinking. One of the hardest things after they died was everyone saying they could see them in me.”
“I’ve often been told that I take after my Dad, but I really don’t see it.” Jacob remark raised a chuckle from both of them. “I, too, can see both of them in you.”
“My mom was a big poetry and literature junkie. She would have adored you.”
“And your father?”
“He was a big time history and philosophy kind of guy so , you two would have had plenty to talk about too.” She fell silent for a moment and looked down at the photograph.
“What is it”, he asked, resting his hand atop hers.
“I wish they could have known you. Mon and Dad were the kind of people who would see you for you and not just your differences.”
“They raised you to be able to see me that way and I am, and will forever be, grateful to them for that.” he said softly, resting his head on hers. “May I ask something rather personal of you, Sarah?”
She looked up at him,” Of course you may. What is it?”
“Part of the continuity of my world is our oral history. Much of the lives of those who have built my world are known to us now only by the telling of their stories by others. Would you do me the honor of helping to keep their memory alive by knowing your parents stories, that I may better know my extended family?”
Sarah smiled and nodded at his request. She leaned back against him, safely wrapped in his arms and looked back down at the photograph. Safe in the glow of the candle and fire light, amidst the gentle tympani of the rain outside on the balcony tiles, the lives and legacy of William and Abigail Hancock lived once more.
~ NEW CHAMBERS ~
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THE ORIGINAL CABB
TUNNEL TALES, VOL. 1
THE STEAM TUNNELS
~ NEW CHAMBERS ~
GO TO >>>
THE ORIGINAL CABB
TUNNEL TALES, VOL. 1
THE STEAM TUNNELS
~ NEW CHAMBERS ~
THE ORIGINAL CABB
TUNNEL TALES, VOL. 1
THE STEAM TUNNELS