Over the years I never ceased to be amazed at the talent that’s sifted through my high school creative writing class. I’ve found complete joy in pouring my love of the written word into such eager fresh proficiency. Deep within the hidden recesses of my heart I hoped to unearth the next bestselling novelist.
I considered it my calling: to pierce the dark depths of the soul with a pinhole of light, to discover the hidden treasures that lay deeper than most people are willing to search. As a writer, I know that a gifted author is often harassed with a dark side, an inky blackness that clings to their insides and remains reluctant to let loose of the tortured soul.
This was the case with Darcy. Dark Darcy, the kids called her. I remember her well. Darcy would take her seat in the far corner of the class, the north corner. I called her my North Star.
Black stringy hair hung over her shifty eyes. Her back pack always hit the floor with a thud. She’d rummage through and produce her writing notebook. Her leg bounced incessantly. Hunched over her desk she watched warily, anxious for everyone to sit with their backs to her.
Darcy’s black garb hung loosely on her emaciated frame. Her Goth-like accessories clanked nervously on her desk when I’d hand back the latest homework, corrected with splashes of red ink. She’d grab hers out of my hand and immediately flip through it, hungry to know what I thought of her latest masterpiece.
Darcy thrived on the combination of crisp white paper, scratched with black, heavily sprinkled with crimson ink. With every red word of correction I wrote on Darcy’s work, I felt like a potter with a lump of clay on the wheel, spinning and molding the beautiful piece of art that she was.
Emphasis on was. No one has seen or heard from Darcy for fifteen years. She never showed up for graduation. Odd, but then, Dark Darcy had been known for peculiar behavior. Her mother said she simply walked out the door one day and never returned. Sadly, she didn’t appear to miss her daughter.
Apparently Darcy held me in high esteem. A week after graduation I received this letter:
Dear Mrs. Sanders,
You are the only one I intend to contact. You alone discern my deepest thoughts. I know you understand me when I say I don’t want to be Dark Darcy anymore. Originally this began as a suicide letter. I plotted and planned my death to occur on graduation night but then the encouragement you consistently shared on my homework haunted me. No, not haunted, those words breathed life to my very core.
You assured me that I have a gift to share with the world, yet I have doubts anyone would want to read anything I write. This darkness I live with didn’t happen overnight and I know it won’t disappear instantly either.
I need help. I want you to know I have a plan to put Dark Darcy to death, but the soul you painstakingly nurtured with your kindness and the gift you poured into me through written words will not die. I will forever be indebted to you.
With sincere appreciation,
Your North Star.
Instantly my heart surged with spring-like life. You know the kind of spring where you experience brilliant sunshine that turns immediately to rain, hail, thunder, lightning, and then a beautiful rainbow appears? I fell to my knees and held Darcy’s letter to my heart and prayed fervently for her soul.
“Oh God protect my North Star,” I remembered praying. “Guide her to Your Morning Star. Shine Your light into her dark tortured life.”
I retired this week from my ministry post: the public high school. I never could speak the name of Jesus publicly but I know that I know…deep in my knower that I’ve been a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ for thirty-five years.
I received a package in the mail yesterday, no return address, but I instantly recognized the handwriting. It was a book. A well crafted story of hope. I stayed up all night reading about a dark and lonely gal that checks herself into a mental institute. She called it her cocoon season. She emerges years later the most beautiful, confident, butterfly.
I smile at the author’s name, Estelle North. My North Star shines bright in a dark sky leading others on a journey of hope and freedom.
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