My Revolutionary Secret

The musty, hot summer air encompasses my aging body as I try to push the past aside. Thick, smug air surrounds me like a bubble, shielding me from the past. The wind whistles through me and pops my bubble; memories are beginning to flood in like the water of a tsunami. Strings on my bonnet gently whisk across my delicate skin. The mahogany, rocking chair creaks as it conforms to my aching limbs. Even so, its comfort remains in its familiar scent and scratches that remind me of those that have been lucky enough to sit on its cushion. I bask in the heat rays from the sun that reflect on my glasses, I raise my hand to touch my face. Each colorful vein on my hand touches each wrinkle on my face and each wrinkle is another memory of a time long gone; my hand moves down and touches the back of my neck. The scar that hides a secret still remains a deformity and I have never told its story, it is a deformity that even you, my beautiful loving family do not know the truth about. What will you say when you find out about me, Gracie Jones? Please don’t regard me as a traitor because I didn’t realize the hurt and unfair things my country was bestowing upon the colonies. I just wanted to be fair and just, staying an English citizen wasn’t going to give me such benefits. I will let you in on a little secret, my dear family, you, before I continue. It is a puzzling statement that may lead you to many conclusions and must be thought over: everyone, absolutely everyone believes there was only one brave gal who portrayed herself as a man in the army, Deborah Sampson, but perhaps there were more that have not been discovered and perhaps my secret will die with me.


I was as perfect as a child could be and yet I yearned to break out of my shell, to peak into the world outside of my family’s estate. It all began when I was fifteen, when I began devising a plan so thorough and inventive that even my own loving parents could not stop me. Tiptoeing, I entered the treacherous shelf of my brother’s clothes. Piles of clothing defiled the ground and fear hid behind me, but I stayed brave and marched on. When I was about to enter the bridge of disaster: his closet. Through the fog of body odor I snagged his breeches, coat, boots, and the family musket. From out the window a gunshot rang in my ears and my heart softened as the call of action beckoned for me. Slinking down the wood stairs faltering on my every move I just hoped to reach the double doors, the gateway to an eternity of dreams. Out my body went, feeling the cool winter’s breeze on my neck, trying to salvage what was left of my sanity. Freedom tasted sweeter than molasses on my ever-grateful tongue. If any of you, grandchildren, Lucy, Bobby, John, choose to take a similar path as I, please make sure that regret has no place in your life. The regret that encompassed me that moonlit evening felt alien and foreign, my belief that it didn’t belong was shattered when I realized it did. Regret is like a pipe’s smoke; it may fade before your eyes.


When I joined the Continentals, still not exposing my true self I felt like I was playing a role in a play. Acting every scene perfectly and coming up with each new line as necessary, I was the author and the character at the same time. But I still could throw in a little of myself into the show, too. Through two years of hardships, running throughout diverse camps of troops, mud, forests, blood covered battlefields, and town squares I learned to fend for myself. When you have been a part of the Battle of Trenton and witnessed those drunken Hessians believing they were going to win the Revolution, you gain a sense of pride. You begin to feel important, like you are part of something much bigger than yourself. A few weeks after this battle, came an event that changed my life. I remember it like it was yesterday, dawn creeping over the horizon behind our barracks, and my troops and I were still sleeping rifles at hand. The scent of surprise and shock filled are nostrils. It sung at our eyes and we awakened to a jolt when a bullet fired through the air. The sound is still ringing outside in the field. I jumped down from the bunk and searched the bewildered eyes of my bunkmates. I led them to the entrance of the barracks and we all put bullets in our rifles, prepared for anything the Redcoats had ready for us. My all time least favorite part of army life was the waiting, the dread and exhaust you feel while waiting is nearly unbearable. Even then your trepidation regarding what might be happening pounds you as if your heart is about to break.


We moved silently around each barrack towards the door, anticipating the arrival of our enemies. My fear increased with each soundless step, each moment we listened for that second shot that would order us to the battlefield. And then, a single gunshot sounded through our camp. I nearly jumped out of my skin and ran faster than a wolf to the grassy plain. To this day, I look out the window expecting to see the British running with their firearms on one shoulder and knapsack on the other. One of my bunkmates fell to the ground, his head clanked against the unforgiving soil. I lifted him behind a hedge and used my jacket to try to stop the bleeding of his cold, listless body. Winter seemed to be his arch nemesis as I fought against the falling snow. Courage wasn’t going to help me and I almost stopped trying to save him, as the situation seemed beyond repair. To my disbelief, he started coughing and my eyes lit like a candle. A shocked expression flew onto my surprised face as my surprise and a sense of reality engulfed my very being. Perseverance had been my best friend that day and his Father, Pride clung to me. My fellow soldiers smiled at me and a permanent grin stuck to my face like glue. They showered praise on me for some time after that as they realized I had saved his life.


In reality, I was no more than an imposter, a poser or hoaxer, a fake; my life was becoming that of someone else. My days were numbered in someone else’s diary and the life that was once mine had faded into the background. Where did the farm girl who milked the cows vanish? If there is one lesson I would teach you children it is this: never begin anything if you are not prepared to deal with the consequences. During my time in the army my happiness flourished, but there was always this lingering feeling of doubt as if I wasn’t really there in battle. The person once known as Gracie Jones dissolved into someone else during my time as a solider; it was like someone had stripped me of my identity and left just a soulless body in its place. If there were anything I would change about my time as a Revolutionary War soldier I would keep some of myself so I wouldn’t lose my past. When enlisting in the army, losing all of myself wasn’t what I was trying to do, but it happened anyway. Buy in return, I realized that girls too have courage, bravery, loyalty and power inside their hearts, and it shouldn’t take a rifle on a battle field to let it show!





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Love.Hate.Passion. said...
Aug. 8, 2011 at 10:41 pm
 Enjoyable read with a nice message. Great job!
 
Livvy97 replied...
Aug. 9, 2011 at 10:14 am
Thank you!
 
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