DAKOTA BLACK: or "the Dragon"
Call me Isabelle. Sometime ago, never mind exactly when, I found myself restless. For countless days, I found my gaze moving skyward. The red morning dawn would meet my thirsty eyes, evaporating the last of the lingering stars as it washed away the shadowy stains of a long night. Infinite variations of clouds would then become the attraction, a never-ending picture show of white puffs floating lazily by, maybe wispy swirls seemingly frozen in place, or the cover of a lifting fog accompanied by the insubstantial and sometimes welcome drizzle of rain. Some days it was thundering and towering stacks flooding the streets with heavy downpours, others a solid gray ceiling bringing perpetual dusk, and on special occasions a thin and silken layer high in the sky adorning the sun with a crown, the almighty king of the heavenly lights.
The grand finale was and is repeated evening by evening as the day recedes into night, and has drawn our attention since the dawn of man. Surely even Adam and Eve sat side by side and enjoyed the multispectral kaleidoscope that so many lovers since gazed upon with doe eyes, a natural aphrodisiac. The Sun, placed in the heavens by God’s word as a gift to the world, to shed light on all the beauty of His making, shows during its daily closing act to be perhaps His most beautiful creation.
Despite my passion and no matter my spirit’s protests, however, my eyes would eventually bring their focus away from the heavens and back to the reality in which I lived, and the world's chaos I had yet to really understand. Only recently having freed myself from incarceration and forced labor, an injustice that I had endured since I was a child, having nothing to my name and knowing nothing of how I could bring value to the world, I wandered looking for some sign of my destiny, waiting for some glimpse into what purpose my existence could possibly have.
Although the sky called me, I began to view the sea as an escape. One thing I was sure of is that the land had defeated me, and I had no love for it. During my bondage my soul had at times been no more than the flickering light of a dying flame–even less than that, perhaps just an ember, blocked from the winds of freedom and losing its glow. What if I viewed the swinging chap at the gallows with envy? What if the sharp sickle of the field sang to my blood, offering it an escape from the body that betrayed its inherent nobility? I had wanted to die for a long time, but survived out of spite. I would not let the ground have me. I would not feed myself to the fields. In freedom I have maintained that grudge. However, slipping under the surface of the sea and succumbing to a November squall in a fight with the natural rage of one of God’s greatest creations to me seemed acceptable, almost grand. Even then, I would not give in without resistance, for with freedom my ember had found its flame and demanded more. So, I decided to find a spot as a common sailor. It was not the proper place for a woman, and I knew I risked facing rejection and unknown hardship. I knew that by no means was such a position viewed as anything too respectable, but I had started to think to myself that away from the land, perhaps I could find purpose, even honor in life.
It was a Saturday when I left New Amsterdam. No way could I have guessed the voyage the fates had in store for me. Never would I experience the sea, and never again would the sky represent such benign beauty to me. Now, when I gain the courage to glance up, I see the clouds as playing an ominous part, not only for the rampages I have seen them release on their own accord, but because of their willingness to hide the terror that glides above them. God’s creation is no doubt awe inspiring, but I fear that our sin has unleashed powers that we cannot contain. Perhaps the great serpent was Satan himself, perhaps it was a demon, or more likely just another of God’s wondrous creatures, beautiful and perfect–terribly beautiful, imperviously and powerfully perfect.