Hi, fellow readers and writers!
I've written a few things over the years, most of which disappeared when an ex-girlfriend crashed my computer. Whether or not I have any literary talent - I have no idea, but either way, I don't plan on quitting my day gig anytime soon. Becoming rich and famous doesn't really interest me. Just being read is enough keep me happy.
Recently, I was encouraged to start this blog and share my stories and to network with others.
The smaller stories I create are born when I look at photographs or paintings. A while back, I came across an old U.S. Civil War photograph of a young teenage boy in uniform waiting to have his picture taken. His facial expression and his body language told me all sorts of things, so I decided to pen my impression of what might have been going through the boys' mind as he stares into the camera.
Now I sit forever in this hot, humid room waiting for a light flash. For hours, it seems, I wait, still and numb. At only 15, I am prepared to die for The Mighty Cause.
My sentence is already decided by the Confederate Army.
I will die.
Surely, I would have fled had they not conditioned me into trading my life to take two so that freedom for the Great South may live forever.
Everyone sings and boasts loudly, but at night I hear anxious whispers. The
I wonder what would happen if I just stood still on the battlefield while everyone else thrashed about, loading and firing and stumbling and cursing? All the muskets and cannons would miss me. But no, my own side will shoot me for that.
There’s a funny yet chilling feeling in my gut as I recall that only a couple of weeks ago, I was fishing along the banks of the beloved Mississippi and skipping stones along its nearby estuaries without a care in the world. Then two important looking officers on horseback came riding tall in shiny boots and gold buttons. They told me to “Sign this paper, son, and make your mother proud!”
Pretending to know how to read and write, I looked at the tiny words on the paper and then I marked an ‘x’ after the ‘X’.
The men squared up and one boomed, “Were looking for a war hero just like you, young soldier. Follow us!"
Hurry up and take the damned picture, please! This too-tight, wool uniform itches something awful. Why didn’t I pay attention in Sunday school and later in church? Is my soul clean and good? Is it pure? I think now is a good time for a solemn prayer: God, please forgive me for stealing that ladies’ underwear catalogue from Rodger’s and Drysdale’s. And please forgive me for anything else I did wrong, too.
I wonder if the other soldiers in my outfit are as scared as I am. Our grim, dirty, hungry expressions all look the same, despite our age differences. I feel drained and swindled. God forbid if all these people in here should realize how terrified I really am. My never-ending fatigue is all that keeps me from trembling or from even allowing a big tear welling in my eye to fall noticeably down my cheek. Why do we do this? Why don’t I know anything?
At last, the light flash is seen and heard, and that little puff of smoke seeps upward. I wipe my eye.
Frozen within myself, I now wait for somebody to tell me what next to do.