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Is Revival Always Good?

Celebrating the Summer Solstice

By Mack D. AmesPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 6 min read
Like no revival I ever want to see again

Hampson was a quaint village in the heart of eastern Maine, far from the hustle and bustle of economic activity and tourism that created enthusiasm for residents. "You can't get there from here" is a popular phrase among Mainers everywhere, but it was especially true of Hampson. It didn't seem to be connected to anything. However, it was just large enough to have an elementary and middle school, and whatever social activities could be found in the town happened there.

Unlike many other nearly-forgotten communities, the historical society of Hampson hadn't been active in more than four decades when I moved there in 2015. The town "library," such as it was, had precious few records of the past, but I took to the task of digging into them with fervor. My natural curiosity and love of history overcame the lack of documentation. I quickly became known in the community for dropping in, asking questions, and seeking out all I could to improve my knowledge of the town. It wasn't an idle pastime. I'd heard rumors of traditions Hampson once celebrated on the summer solstice that generated mystical occurrences. I wanted to learn more for a book I was writing on the subject.

One afternoon in June I was at a coffee shop when school let out. The high schoolers were dropped off nearby by the bus from the district, and a half dozen came streaming in for snacks. I took the opportunity to strike up conversations about the rituals I'd been hearing about.

"Aw, that's just fairy tales, Mister," one boy said. "My family's been in Hampson for 45 years and I've never heard anything about that."

A couple of his friends slapped him on the back in agreement and laughed, but one of the girls said, "No, it's not, Josh. My family has been here longer than yours, and I've heard my grammie talk about it many times!"

The one she called Josh responded, "No offense, Amy, but your grammie's not completely 'with it,' you know what I mean? She's a sweet lady, and all, but c'mon. She thought that she was being watched and stalked by your neighbor, but it was just a first aid dummy propped up in his window!"

"Josh, don't be a jerk!" Amy slapped Josh on the arm. I intervened to stop the situation from becoming a bigger issue.

"Amy, is it? Tell me what your Grammie has told you. I'd like to know more."

The pout left the young girl's face as she related the tales her grandmother had shared with her years before. "When Grammie was a little girl in the 1930's, she used to sneak out to the 'Revival Party' held every summer solstice in the middle of the town. It was supposed to be for grown-ups only, she said, but she and her friends would meet at the school and hide in the bushes together to see what all the secrecy was about. The first time she went she was nine years old, and she said she fell asleep before anything happened. But the next year, she stayed awake the whole time and wished she hadn't."

When Amy paused, Josh butted in. "Why did she wish she hadn't? Did she get scaaaaared?" he taunted.

I put my hand up to Amy to keep her from responding while I said to Josh, "Young man, I'm here for a story I'm writing, so if you have anything helpful to say, I want to hear it. Otherwise, please stop being rude to Amy and the rest of us."

He rolled his eyes at me but shut his mouth. I spoke again. "Amy, please continue, if you don't mind."

"Okay. Well, Grammie said that when she was ten, she took a nap in the afternoon of the summer solstice so she wouldn't fall asleep during the Revival Party. That night, when she met up with her friends at the school, some of them looked nervous. One of the girls, named Lizzie, said her parents caught her the year before and said if they found out she'd been sneaking out this year, they'd whip her. She chickened out and went home, but Grammie was determined to go through with it. What is it, Josh?"

I turned and saw that Josh had his hand up. "Go on, Josh. Ask your question," I prompted.

"Why did it take all year before Lizzie told them about her parents catching her?"

Amy said, "Good question for once, Josh. I asked Grammie that, too. She didn't know why Lizzie waited that long to say anything. She said Lizzie was very absentminded, so it probably just slipped her mind until the solstice reappeared. Regardless, Gram went that night and saw the Revival Party for herself." Amy shuddered before continuing her story.

"It started like any church revival you've seen or heard about. Lots of singing, clapping their hands, shouting 'praise the Lord', and stuff like that. At some point, they brought someone into the middle of the group, someone who was tied up and blindfolded. They started chanting this weird sound, Grammie said. It started quiet and low, but it was rhythmic, and they swayed their bodies and clapped to it while their voices grew louder. Eventually, she made out what they were saying, and it made her blood run cold:

We caught her running and sneaking in the dark

Trying to learn secrets that ain't her part.

Now she's gonna pay for her rebellion in a way

That she'll never forget it's the longest day!

It's Revival Day! It's Revival Day!

Take the girl to hell, let her find the way.

It's Revival Day! It's Revival Day!

Praise the summer solstice! Bring her back to stay!

"The words shook my Grammie the most because she recognized the clothes of the girl they had tied up. It was Lizzie. Grammie didn't stay to see what happened. She skedaddled out of the bushes and ran home with those words ringing in her ears. I never heard if Lizzie was okay. Grammie wouldn't tell me more."

"I appreciate you sharing that, Amy. It reaffirms what I've already learned about Hampson's Revival Day history. I may have some answers about Lizzie for you after Tuesday night, but I'll have to prepare for the party."

Tuesday evening, as I joined a few dozen other adults for the ironically named revival of the Revival Party, I wondered how many of them understood the nature of what would happen. Did they know their town's history as well as I did?

By 9:30 p.m., the sun had set and dusk was settling over the school grounds. I called for everyone's attention. "It's time to begin the ritual! Please join the circle." We began the singing, clapping, shouting, and dancing. When I sensed the frenzy reaching its peak, I brought my subject into the circle, tied up and blindfolded. The special chant began.

We caught him running and sneaking in the dark

Trying to learn secrets that ain't his part.

Now he's gonna pay for his rebellion in a way

That he'll never forget it's the longest day!

It's Revival Day! It's Revival Day!

Take the boy to hell, let him find the way.

It's Revival Day! It's Revival Day!

Praise the summer solstice! Bring him back to stay!

I heard a gasp from behind the group, and while my fellow revelers continued the chant, I withdrew to see who was hiding in the shadows. As I suspected, it was Amy. "You should not be here, Amy," I hissed.

"But that's..that's Josh! What are you going to do to him??"

"You can stay and watch, or you can leave." I spun on my heel and rejoined the circle.

"Take the boy to hell, let him find the way. It's Revival Day! It's Revival Day! Praise the summer solstice! Bring him back to stay!" The final refrain sounded as an arrow flew through the air and struck Josh in the heart. He died instantly.

At that moment, a young girl appeared in the circle and Josh's body disappeared. From the clothes she was wearing, I knew instantly who she was.

"Quickly, everyone! Begin the chant again!" I cried out. "Hurry! There's no time to lose! Little girl, you must join in, too! Lizzie, is it? Please! We must save Josh. He saved your life just now. Come on!"

It worked as I thought. Lizzie had died that night in 1939. Due to the war, the ritual had ended and never resumed. When we revived it this summer solstice, it brought back that little girl, Amy's Grammie's friend. That reunion was awkward because the two were vastly different in age, but they managed to create a friendship.

Josh was saved. He had gotten nosy at the wrong time and became our guinea pig, as it were, so I'm relieved he survived. The power of the Revival amused the town a century ago, but it's unlike any I want to see again.

MysteryYoung AdultthrillerShort StoryPsychologicalMicrofictionHistoricalFable

About the Creator

Mack D. Ames

Educator & writer in Maine, USA. Real name Bill MacD, partly. Mid50s. Dry humor. Emotional. Cynical. Sinful. Forgiven. Thankful. One wife, two teen sons, one male dog. Baritone. BoSox fan. LOVE baseball, Agatha Christie, history, & Family.

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Comments (1)

  • Sweileh 888about a month ago

    Interesting and delicious content, keep posting more now

Mack D. AmesWritten by Mack D. Ames

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