March 31, 2017

I woke up startled as Elliot shook me violently. Drops of sweat slowly dripped down the side of my head. “Are you alright?” He asked. “Yeah, I’m fine.” I replied. He had a concerned look on his face. “You were crying.” He said. “It was just a bad dream, it was about my sister.” I reluctantly answered. “I’m sorry if I woke you.” I apologize. I instantly fell back to sleep. A smell of fresh air tingled my nose I heard laughing. It was a familiar laugh… sister Elizabeth. She's smiling in the sunlight just gazing at me. I'm trying to run to her so I could hug her once again but my legs won't let me move.

The sunlight shines through the curtains and wakes me. The bed is empty and the sheets smell of lye. Today would be a productive day. I go through the list of tasks through my head. Head to the market, visit my parents, clean the house and make dinner. I flatten the pillows and fix the quilt. I stepped down from bed and felt the cold floor on my bare feet. I walked to the chamberpot and stared at myself in the mirror. I studied my features brown hair that curled at its tips. Dark green eyes and long eyelashes. My skin was light, but not pale. My body was slim and average. I was decent, not beautiful but decent. I put a light blue dress on and flat black shoes that didn’t have a design. I brushed my hair and left it as it is. I walked outside and heard birds singing. I swiftly walked to the market that was two blocks away. As I opened the door it smelled of fresh bread. I counted how much money I had. Twenty four dollars and seventeen cents. Elliot had just gotten paid from a week's work of making tools.
I bought two long loaves of bread, five apples, cheese, pork, flask of hard cider, and a jug of water.

As I walked to my parents house I took a loaf of bread out to hand to my mother as I walked through the door. I walked up the stone path and knocked on the door. Immediately my dad opened the door and said, “Olivia, I haven't seen you in a while.’’ He admitted. “Hello father, how have you been?” I gently asked. “I miss Elizabeth.” He confessed. Tears blurred my eyes as I was tched a tear roll down his face. I've never seen him cry like this. I glance into the house and see my mom focusing on us. I walk in slowly and we hug for what seems like forever. I hand my mom the loaf of bread. “You didn't have to get me this!” She beamed.   “Elliot had just gotten paid, it’s not a big deal.” “Thank you, Olivia.” My father said. “I should go, Elliot will be home soon.” I sighed. “I love you guys.” I smiled. “We love you to.” They chorused.

I opened the door to my house and immediately went to my room… our room. The  bed creaked as I sat down. I stared at the wall. I must've sat there for hours. “Olivia?” He called. It was Elliot. My joints were stiff so I stood up slowly. Elliot came into the room and kissed my cheek. “What were you doing?” He pondered. “I was just .thinking.” I murmured. I looked into his eyes. His face was pale. “Are you ill, you don’t look well.” I cautioned. He stood and said “I'm fine, I’m just tired.” He admitted. I knew he was lying. He looked like he had seen a ghost. He swiftly stood up and went into the kitchen. I followed. He collapsed onto the floor. “Elliot!”I screamed. My heart was racing and my legs buckled. I crawled to him. He was breathing heavily. “Elliot, can you hear me?” I choked. I cupped his head in my palms. Blood dripped down my arm. I felt tears fill my eyes, but I didn't let them fall. I had to get him off the floor. I tugged at his boots until they loosened. I locked arms with him and pulled as hard as I could. Out of breath, I sat him on the floor and I leaned him against our bed. I hopped onto the bed and sturdied my legs. I reassured myself that I could do this. Because I can. I took his hands in mine and pulled. I fell down as Elliot plopped onto the bed. I stared at the ceiling. He lay on the pillow eyes closed and lightly breathing. I forgot about the blood that stained my skin. I went to the kitchen and grabbed a cloth. I poured clean water on the cloth and put pressed on the gash on the back of Elliot's head. I held it there until most of the blood was on the cloth. I put a clean cloth on the back of his head. I was supposed to fight for our country. What would I do now?

I left Elliot in bed and cleaned the cut again. I quickly went to the house next to us. The young woman who lived there was an experienced nurse who had seen much worse than I could imagine. I knocked on the wooden door. Kathy opened the door right away. “Hi Liv.” She beamed. “I need your help.” I say abruptly. “Elliot fell and he won’t wake up.” I explained. “Olivia, is he breathing.” She slowly asked. “Of course!” I assured her. “I am going away for awhile and I need you to take care of him.” I reluctantly said. “I know you can do it, and we need money.” I beggged. “I’ll be over in a minute.” She insisted. I hugged her. “Thank you.” I said. I ran back to the house and grabbed the bag I had packed of Elliot's clothes. I walked into our bedroom. “I’ll be back Ell.” I promised.

I walked two exhausting hours. As I walked down the dirt path the sun was almost out of sight. I spotted a wooded area and headed straight for it. I threw the bag on to the floor and dumped the clothes onto the grass. I brought a week's worth of clothing, lots of food, a knife, boots, chewing tobacco and a hat. My dress slid down my legs and I pulled Elliot's pants on. I put a grey shirt on and twisted my hair into the hat. I shoved the boots on and tied them. I felt a sharp pain in my stomach. I held my stomach until the pain faded away. A stomachache won't stop me. I’m ready. I shoved a piece of tobacco in my mouth and walked to the regiment.

My stomach still pained me but I kept walking. I was going to fight for my country and get paid. I walked up to the gate and saw a man standing in the distance. He jogged up to the gate and said “Welcome to Valley Forge, Mr.Benson.” He said. In a low voice I said “Thank you.” He opened the gates and I walked in.

I drilled into my brain that my name was Elliot Benson. We were given tags to sew onto our jackets, a pair of boots, and socks. I went to my hut and examined it. There was a fireplace at the end of the cabin and there were twelve bunks built into the side of the wall. I jumped as someone said “Well you're pretty smart.” I swung around and looked at the man...soldier. “Pardon?” I croaked. “You know, showing up late so you wouldn't have to build the hut that you're standing in.” He arrogantly said. “It was a long trip.” I murmured. He rolled his eyes and walked away. Suddenly another soldier walked in, his tag said walker. “Nice to meet you.” He smirked “I'm Christopher.” He added. “Elliot.” I clarified. I walked to a bunk and put my bag on it. It's going to be a long winter.

For the next five days we marched and slept. A few months went by and I had gained weight. I had packed lots of bread and cheese. I hid it in a hole that was next to my bunk. I had felt guilty when I didn't share with everyone. There was much shortage of food and clothing. I froze and only ate a handful of rice the next day. I became friends with nurses and the cooks. I was in excruciating pain and my hut had fallen ill with disease. I became very friendly with Christopher. I woke up and stared at the ceiling. My thoroughly hurt to swallow and my eyes burned. I stood up and yawned. “Chris, are you up?” I shook his arm. “Chris, we need to wake up bright and early today.” I pressed. I rolled him over and his eyes were wide open. He smelled of rotten eggs. “Chris!” I bellowed. I stumbled to the floor as tears flooded my eyes. “What's going on?” John asked. “He’s...he’s dead.” I croaked, wiping the tears from my eyes. Isaac woke up and looked at Chris. “He was just a slave, he didn't do us any good.” He announced. “He was my friend!” I objected. “What if it was you!” I cried.

My bladder woke me that night. I needed to use the privy. I stood in the snow and stared at the sky. My eyes were puffy and my head was throbbing. A sharp pain squeezed my stomach, and I cried out in pain. “What are you doing out here?” Aaron questioned. He was from another hut and I had only recognized him from his tag. “I need to use the privy.” I sternly said. “Make it quick.” He commanded. I started to walk to the hut where the nurses slept. I opened the door to the hut Lydia slept in. She was a nurse I met when I brought Chris to her. We properly buried him the next day. “Lydia?” I whispered. “I’m in pain.” I complained. “Elliot is that you?” She exclaimed. “Yes.” I murmured. “Please.” I cried. She got up and layed me on the bunk. As I layed down my hat down the side of the bunk. Her eyes widened. “You're a woman!” She exclaimed. “What are  you thinking!” She shouted. “I am here to fight for freedom.” I declared. “Please you can't say anything.” I pleaded. “Us women are just trying to make a living, but if you get caught don't dare bring me into it.” She warned. “No, not a word.” I swore. I cried out in pain again. She lifted my shirt and stared. “Oh no!” She breathed. My belly swelled. “Your pregnant!” She gasped. My heart was in my throat. Fluid trickled down my legs. Lydia ran to another hut and came back with two cloths and a knife. The other women stood around me. They guided the baby out of me as quickly as possible. 

It's a girl! Hours passed and I needed to leave as soon as they wrapped the baby. I wasn't in a condition to walk. I was still in pain, but I could still walk. I just wanted to leave. I wanted to see Elliot. I sat up slowly. “I need a bag.” I said. “Olivia this is your only chance, you need to be careful.” She urged. Lydia gave me a bag with towels. I put my baby girl into the bag. “You need to be fast.” Lydia told me. I was well out of the gates as a soldier approached Lydia. “What are you doing out here?” He questioned. Suddenly John came up to the officer and  said “We can't find Elliot.”

I walked as far as I could without stopping. My baby started to cry. She shrieked when the cold hit her pink face. As she cried I thought of what I would name her. I would name her Jayne just like my mother. I walked for about an hour until I could see my neighbor’s house. I walked toward my house. Tears of joy filled my eyes. I opened the door and ran into the house. “Ell where are you?” I shouted. I heard Elliot's voice and I ran into our bedroom. “Elliot what are you doing!” I screamed. Kathy was sleeping in my spot, on my pillow. “Liv!” He beamed. Tears started down his face. “She said you died!” He bellowed. Kathy woke and her eyes widened. “Olivia, what are you doing here!” She choked. “How could you do this!” I yelled. “Get out of here now!” Elliot demanded. She ran past me and slammed the door. Jayne started whining. “What is that noise!” Elliot asked. “Our baby girl.” I replied. Elliot cradled Jayne and I hugged him for what seemed like forever. “I thought you were…” he began. I motioned my finger to my lips. “Shh.” I  said. I was with my family and that's all that mattered.

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