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Mount Doom

The little black book

By Malia HebertPublished 3 years ago 8 min read
Mount Doom
Photo by Thomas Schweighofer on Unsplash

Mordor is real. I know, because I've been there.

Lizzie reread the opening line in the little black notebook in her hands.

"What a strange way to start a diary," she said. She closed the book and looked at its cover. The Lord of the Rings Moleskine notebook, Mount Doom version, had been her inheritance from her great Aunt Dorothy. She hadn't expected any inheritance at all seems she had only met the woman once, but had she been expecting an inheritance, a Mount Doom journal would not have been at the top of her list.

She read on:

My story begins in the Shire, as most adventure stories do. Growing up, I didn't realize how blessed we were. Our house was meek and our furnishings humble, but we had acres of rich farming soil, and our crops were bountiful. Those were simple days, when I was a simple girl. I had lived in the Shire all my life and was sheltered from the sufferings others experienced elsewhere. I thought everyone had farms and food and green, rolling pastures.

It was the summer of 1945. I had just turned 17. Those years had been tough, but the one silver lining was that the War had been good to farming families. We were thriving. And, so, in the summer of '45 Poppa decided to hire some help.

Oh John's first day as farmhand, Mother sent me to gather eggs in the chicken coop. I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was midday, and the sun shone directly onto John's broad, strong shoulders. The beads of sweat glistened like dewdrops. The old woman I am now is embarrassed by how enamored I was, but a young girl's passions can't be swayed. I took my sweet time collecting eggs, while casting constant glances at John. I never worked up the courage to speak to him that first day, and Mother scolded me for dawdling in the hen house; still, it was a day that set me on my God-destined path.

Lizzie stopped reading. She felt ashamed that she had already learned more about her aunt from her diary than she had in all the woman's living years. She should have made more of an attempt to get to know her. She continued reading:

It was love at first sight, or so he told me, the day I brought him some water. I was shy and never said a word, just thrust the cup at him like a simpleton. He had returned the gesture with a sweet smile and a twinkle in his eye that made my cheeks flush with warmth.

"Well thank you, pretty lady," he said genuinely.

Before I could respond, Poppa glared at me.

"Excuse me, John," he said curtly, as he grabbed my arm and guided me out of earshot. I wasn't sure why Poppa was mad, but the reason was about to hit like a cannon.

"Dorothy," he hissed, "what do you think yer doing?"

"Giving John some water," I said defensively.

"Water for animals is one thing," he replied, "but sweet flirtations are unacceptable."

Was I mistaken? Had I misheard him?

"Animals?" I questioned.

Poppa's features softened, but only slightly. "Not an animal, no, not quite the right word. But he's not a Hobbit like us either, darling. You must see that. He's a...a..." Poppa lowered his voice. "He's a Swerting."

I had heard the word before, but never from my Poppa's mouth. The term coming from lips that I associated with love hit like a poisoned bolt.

"The correct term is Haradrim, Poppa," I replied angrily.

"You're right, darling," he said, again softening his tone. "Forgive me for upsetting you. John is a good man and a hard worker. All the same, you will not act that way around him again. It wouldn't be proper. Think what the neighbors would say!" He snorted derisively and walked away. His word was final.

I don't know if it was the unyielding infatuation I had for John or the desire for vengeance against my father's harsh words, but I was now more determined than ever to win John's heart. I secretly started talking to him when Poppa would go on supply runs. It wasn't long before we realized we were soulmates. As soon as the farming season was over, I packed up the few belongings that were my own and set off on an epic adventure with John.

At first, we went wherever our hearts led us. We traveled all over Middle Earth before we decided we needed to settle down. We soon found, however, that Poppa wasn't the only one who felt our love was forbidden. Everywhere we went, people stared and whispered to one another. A Hobbit and a Haradrim--how risqué! We finally found a small community where we were, although not accepted, at least tolerated...or so we thought. We used what little money we had saved from John's various laboring jobs to buy a modest little home, the same home I've lived in ever since and where you came to visit me.

Lizzie thought back to her visit with Aunt Dorothy. Growing up, her grandmother would occasionally mention Dorothy, who was always spoken about with love but with an air of mystery. Grandma hadn't seen her sister since she left home at 17. Whenever Lizzie asked why, the question had always been brushed off. "That's just the way Dorothy was," Grandma would say. "Always had her head in the clouds--or in a book! The way she used to read and reread her favorites, usually fantasy. You never saw Dorothy without a book!" This was always said with a smile and followed with a deep sigh. "But she chose her path, and her family wasn't a part of it. We correspond from time to time, but the biannual letters are more a formality than actual conversation. The bond we shared as girls has long been broken, I fear, and it's something we will just never get back." And that was always the end of the discussion.

Lizzie loved a good mystery. Even if her family didn't want to know how Dorothy was, she did. Family was important to her. And so when Lizzie had a work trip to a city near Dorothy's town, she planned a brief detour. All she had with which to track down Dorothy was an address from one of her letters to Grandma; no phone number, no email address, nothing. Lizzie had been nervous to visit unannounced, but she had been welcomed with a warm cup of tea and an even warmer embrace after her short visit.

I greatly enjoyed your visit. It reminded me of my youth. The sense of adventure I saw in your eyes reminded me of myself. I should have told you all of this sooner. I should have written, or called. I fear that after so many years of living in my little Hobbit hole all alone that I've forgotten how to connect to others. I apologize for that, and for the burden I am about to place on you.

It was the spring of '46. John and I had settled into our cozy home, and we had plans for a lovely wedding. Running away from home with a man had greatly challenged society's idea of morals. I wanted to make things right with my family and with the universe. I wanted a gorgeous wedding to formally celebrate my love of John with those I still held dear to me. I wrote letters telling Mother and Poppa all of this, but, alas, they never wrote back. Nevertheless, we decided to throw a small party for whoever chose to attend. We sent out lovely invitations, hearing back from only a handful of John's family that they would come. Some people we invited were bitter about the fact that we had been living together before marriage, others wished us luck but would not attend because of potential legal ramifications (back then, it was illegal for Hobbits and Haradrim to marry), but most never replied at all.

The day of my dreams arrived. A rebellious pastor who believed that love comes in all colors presided over the small ceremony. We had decided to say our vows under the old oak on the hillside, the one we had carved our initials into when we first moved to the area, OUR tree, our Precious. The luscious green hill speckled with freshly-appearing daisies reminded us both of the beauty of the Shire. Little did we know, it was actually Mordor....

I had been so nervous, but when I walked up that hill and saw my future husband, the nerves just melted away. The ceremony itself was short and sweet. We exchanged traditional vows and modest rings, but I should have known that by wearing a powerful ring on Mount Doom, I was luring all kinds of darkness.

The orcs came right after we said, "I do." They came with guns and corralled our few guests to one area. They grabbed my arms and pried me away from the safety of my husband. Then--oh, it pains me to write this--they hanged my John from OUR oak.

You see, not everyone believes in love. They allow the darkness to consume their hearts and blind their sight. You might be wondering why I stayed in a place with such a devastating memory and horrible foes. I stayed because this is my home, my home with John. I stayed because I wanted to trace my fingers over our etched initials in our tree year after year. Mostly, I stayed because I didn't want to give the orcs that satisfaction. I couldn't let evil win.

Over the years, laws changed and hearts softened. The orc philosophy dwindled and was replaced with gentler values. I have watched this little town grow and mature. I only wish John were here to see it. It's a beautiful place, and I'm glad I stayed.

Now that you know the truth, I am hoping you can do something for me. As thanks, I will do something for you in return. As much as my family has let me down over the years, I know that they love me. I know that they will want to bury me in the family plot. But I don't want that. I want to be buried in the tiny cemetery in our town, right next to my husband. My will specifies this, but I need someone to explain to my family WHY. Do this for me, please. Fight for me the way no one in my family has ever fought for me, and you will inherit what little riches I have. I am sorry to say they are not the treasures that would adorn Smaug's cave, but I hope they bless you nonetheless. Visit my attorney, the one who gave you this journal. He has been instructed to hand over my estate and my savings (about $20,000) to you when you give him this password phrase: One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

YOU can be the ring that brings everyone together, my dear Lizzie.

Tears poured down Lizzie's cheeks as she closed the journal. $20,000 would be a huge blessing to her, but she wouldn't spend it all on herself. "I don't know where the money will go just yet, but I'll know when I see it." She would use it to fight injustices in the world.

"I'll honor your story," Lizzie said aloud, "and always aim to shine through the darkness. I'll hold onto the hope that there's some good in this world, Aunt Dorothy...and it's worth fighting for."

fan fiction

About the Creator

Malia Hebert

Malia is a stay-at-home mom with a passion for writing. Her novel, Saving Eve, and her children's book, The Christmas Spirit, are both available on Amazon. She enjoys writing in a variety of genres and sharing her imagination with others.

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