Below

I hear the cannons sounding, men screaming, their cries of horror drive away all the other sounds of my town. The battle has begun. Gunshots echo back to my little hole. They don’t know where I am; I am known as the eyes and ears of Corinth, I know every hole, rock and cave, that’s how I found my hiding place. Yeah, that’s what they say: oh yes, Carlisle is amazing, he knows more than old Miss Victoria. She's the town gossip, and well, oh boy does she gossip. I found it right bout 3 weeks ago, I figured it to be an old abandoned well. But I’m smart; I knew war was coming, so bout a week ago I filled it up with rocks and dirt, filling it up to about 7 feet from the top. The top was a slab of wood that weighed a right 70 pounds. I tried and since I couldn’t lift the top up, I told my pa that when the war was over to come and get me. I can’t wait to get out of here. The well is in the middle of the woods covered by briers and almost invisible. None of the soldiers will find me here. I have piled my mother’s blankets against the sides and under me, to soften the crumbling dirt, and hard rocks. The rocks that in normal times I would collect with my brothers, and rub against boulders until our stones were crumbling, and then sand them until they were smooth. My brothers would always ask Pa to drill a hole in the center of the rock, then they would put it on a string and give it to their sweethearts. I always kept it for myself, or gave it to my friends... except today. Today I gave it to a neighboring girl, named Alice. She was a right pretty girl, with black hair, and big eyes. I think I've fancied her for a time now, but I didn't know how to talk to her. I can't wait to get out. I try to drive away the sound of the screams, but when something, a body maybe, thumps against the top, I start to whimper. The body, for I now know it is, moans, and screams in horror. I hear another scream, and only when dirt crumbles into my open mouth, do I realize it's me. I shut my mouth abruptly but my body continues to shake, until I press myself against the ground, and scream into the dirt. I hear more shots, and picture my brothers. I see all four of them fighting. Emmett, so proud and confident, would be charging ten men at a time, and he was only thirteen, and Edward, sleek and elegant, yes he would be slithering in and out of soldiers, carefully shooting, Edward got his gun when he was twelve but wasn't allowed to use it until two years later. Now. Then of course there was Tobias, the big one in our family -by fourteen he was even bigger than papa. And then my favorite, the one blond out of all our relatives; Jasper. He was tall, and reluctant to join the war, at eighteen he had heard horrible stories from Jacob, the free black boy down the street. Jacob had an uncle who was a slave, but was freed to serve in the 54th regiment. His Uncle came back, but he came back without a leg, and only one eye, and some horrible stories. Jasper didn’t tell me the stories, because he thought that twelve was too early to hear them, but me and Emmett listened to him tell them to Edward and Tobias. Oh… there was all the basic tales, the one my pa say every kid learns before he can walk. You know. The ones with the cannonball hidden in the wall, and the headless soldier, and all those. But then there were others. Like the one where- where…I feel myself starting to tremble, and when I feel something wet running down my face I figure I’m crying, but then the wet starts to slowly drip into my mouth, and with horrible certainty I recognize the bitter, coppery tang of blood. I start to shake hysterically, causing the blood to stop dripping into my mouth, and start running down my cheek. I could hear the dripping sound as blood hit rock, but it sounded like a thousand cannons, all going off at once –over and over again. My ears felt like they were falling off, the noise was so big. And then an earthquake, a moan as big as our town, coming from up above. The soldier. I imagine the wounds. While my disgust with myself spikes, I imagine myself, slowly, heroically marching, first a drummer boy, then a Union soldier, than a Confederate, then a general. I march out as a slave, and suddenly feel a sharp pain in my back, I whip forward simply by the stomach, and fall to the ground, after hearing a gunshot. I know I am dead. Slowly, very slowly though I stand up, and march forward as a Unionist. My blue uniform gleams with blood, and at a sharp pain I look down to see a blade plunged through my leg, and then twisted, going in deeper and deeper. I continue walking, dragging the soldier holding onto the blade with me. I could, once again, hear my blood dripping loudly as I walked. Suddenly I’m wearing the uniform of a Confederate. I walk what seems to be a mile, stabbing my bayonet every which way. I hear soldiers cry out in pain and alarm, but this time, when the sword of a general comes my way I stay down, slowly dying, and when it doesn’t come, screaming out for the blackness to engulf me. I am back in my hole, panting, blood dripping down my arms, from scratches of my nails. The blood collects, pools around my ankles, dripping, than gushing- but when I see my arms, they are free of the gashes. The blood though, so much of it. The people of our lands famous town- Boston. My father took me there once. I abruptly realize it has died, yes, all the people of Boston surely must be lying dead, for so much blood. The blood of Boston running into the well and drowning me. Because I am drowning now. The blood pouring in from everywhere. Then it starts to drain, screaming with an eerie beauty, a wail. Than it's gone and I'm back in the blackness. Suddenly I see sunlight coming from above, and I shriek in delight when I see a family holding up the top, they grimace at me and walk on, leaving the field empty. I run past trees blossoming with pink flowers, and as the sun shone down on me, the dew on the grass sparkled like crystals. I ran past the bright red barn, a third of a mile down from our house, shining in the rain now falling. A beautiful summer rain, with warm drops gently splashing me, and a warm wind pushing my hair back, as I ran. Everything was amazing to me after those hours in that pit. I saw my mother standing in the middle of the road, and as I ran to her, she smiled at me. She held me in her arms, and I inhaled her rich scent of butter, and sugar, and the expensive soap she used. I see my brothers walk down the road, Tobias limping, and I run towards them, eager to tell my story, when the sun disappears behind a cloud. As it grows darker, and darker, I start to scream. I’m once again down in the well, but now the dirt is closing down on me. Crumbling, dirt melting like candy in the sun, sliding over my face, dripping, hardening, and covering my face like a skin tight tomb. I breathe more, and more slowly as it covers my entire body. As the world goes black, I begin to smile.





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jr@opt said...
Sept. 24, 2009 at 2:35 pm
I love this piece. Incredible writing--especially when the charatcter changes identities from Confederate to Unionist etc.
 
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