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The Mother: my narrative of the mother from The Red Badge of Courage

Tears streamed down my face so fast that I couldn't even watch my son walk off into the distance. My heart burned with fear, anger and sadness. Fear of never seeing my baby again, fear for the farm and how I was going to run it. Anger shot out my mouth, made my eyes burn, and my eyes pop. I was angry towards the people who claimed war was glory, and angry at my son for leaving me here all alone. Sadness engulfed my entire body, eating it alive. There, prostrate before God, I prayed and cried out, "Keep him safe, bring him home!" I don't even know how long I was out kneeling among the potato parings. It must've been quite awhile because by the time I came in the sun had been long gone. I made myself some left overs for dinner, numbing my mind as I stumbled around in the dark, not bothering to light any lamps.
The next day I awoke bright and early. Forgetting there was no Henry to feed, I made too much food and didn't do Henry's chores. It was then I realized I needed to find a hired-hand. While pinning my hair up and dressing, I calculated how much I could pay. At last I was ready and headed into town. I spent the next three days getting up, eating, doing chores, dressing, and going to town. Finally, I found a young man, age 25, who was willing to work for me. He had dark brown hair almost to his shoulders. Most of the time his dark curly locks were pulled back behind his ears and tied with a piece of yarn or scrap of cloth. His bright blue eyes seemed to never look into my eyes, but at one of my ears. I will admit, he seemed quite stranger, but he was content with the pay and other conditions, and he seemed a hard enough worker. He owned almost nothing, and his stately perfect shaped nose would quiver like a rabbit's when he was chilled. This happened often because he lacked warm clothing, he had only long underwear, a flannel shirt, rough torn pants, tattered fingerless gloves, and a very worn jacket that was much to small for him. He had no scarf nor hat and just a pair of black boots that were falling apart. The small satchel he carried was never opened when my eyes were upon him. His name was Earnest and he was my hired-hand.
At first he stayed in the barn and spoke very few words, but as it become colder outside I had him move into Henry's room. Still he told me nothing of his former life, but we did talk about the farm, and Henry, our interests and of God, happiness, terror, and war. Earnest had very strong opinions and never did he waver from them. Not everything we spoke of was serious though. Laughter often rang through my house, lightening our spirits and brightening our faces as we realized it was our own laughter.
One evening Earnest wasn't feeling well, I could see it in his body language, and tell by the hacking cough that was ever so persistent. Concerned, I made him a little extra tea to sooth his throat and some herbs to lessen his headache. It felt good to have someone to care for, and he was ever so thankful. He seemed to be doing better as we each headed to our own room for the night. However, in the middle of the night, I heard an unearthly scream. Jumping out of bed, not bothering to grab my robe, I rushed into Earnests room, night gown barely hanging onto me, hair wisping out behind my ears and flowing down my back. Earnest was sitting slouched over, his hair softly spilling into the hand he was clutching his head with. When I asked what was wrong he mumbled something inaudible, so I went nearer to him, placing my hand on his back.
"Earnest, what is wrong?" I whispered with great concern. He looked up directly into my eyes, like never before, and wrapped his arms around me drawing me into bed. Everything that happened was so unexpected the kissing, his fingers running though my hair, his perfect chilly nose against my collarbone, and everything that followed. All of it is so perfectly blurry in my mind, not clear enough to be rationalized, but not too blurred to be a dream. In the morning I awoke, slipped out of his bed and into the kitchen before Earnest even stirred. By the time he got up I was dressed, with breakfast on the table, and thoughts of our sin the night before running on an endless loop in my mind. When Earnest came out I could tell, he too was thinking about the previous night, but we ate in silence. Then just as we were clearing the table he spoke.
"I slept beautifully," Earnest said slowly and delicately. Before I could respond he stumbled backwards clutching a chair.
"I'm sorry," he gasped and dropped to the floor. Everything was still. I quickly checked for a pulse and found none. Earnest was dead.
Stricken with complete shock I ran out the door leaving it wide open behind me. I jumped on one of the horses, not bothering to saddle it, and rode off. I rode for what felt like days becoming numb to the cold and utterly unaware of my surroundings or where I was going. At last, I came to a bustling town I had never been to before. Here I saw a regiment of soldiers. I vaguely remember jumping of my horse and running about, shouting hysterically for Henry. One of the men finally calmed me down and explained to me, my son was not part of this regiment. Exhausted, I took this news and headed to the local restaurant and after remembering my lack of money, I went in search of my horse. I found it outside of the bar, and so I decided to tie it there and go in.
Before Henry left for war I told him to be careful of his company, and not to drink or swear. All the knowledge and morals I had concerning those things were cast aside. I sat down at the bar and began flirting with other men of my age, but not proper men, after all they were in a bar in the middle of the day. They were grungy, unshaven, stinky, miserable drunkards, and I didn't care. I got a few free drinks and a free sandwich from various males, I was grateful to them all. When evening fell and more men piled into the bar I found my side constantly occupied by some fellow or another, some concerned for me, some happy to just be near a woman, some asking more of me. By night I had given into my animalistic side, trying to survive and pleasure, doing what I wanted in the moment. With a stream of nothing running through my head, I ended up in a hotel room, drunk, and maybe with someone, but I cannot remember. Some things I do know happened; three days passed, and so did a lot of men, women, soldiers and alcohol. Then in the midst of it all I remembered Henry, my son, my soldier, and Earnest. I gathered my wits about me, for the most part, tracked down my horse and galloped off. I didn't realize how tattered, disheveled and unkempt I was, but it didn't matter, I was headed somewhere, and I was going to get there as fast as I could.





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