Emerging Writers. Historical Fiction by Mary Ann DiLorenzo
Journeying Back to What Used to Be. Part 23.
Johnny read Emily’s letter only twice and continued to sit on the porch, listening to the evening sounds of early spring in rural Georgia, breathing in the sweet smells of the countryside. He replayed in his mind all that had happened to him since the day he left for war. What used to be, was no more. Nevertheless, Johnny was finding his life once again.
“No, I won’t be drawn back,” he spoke out loud. “So many, better men than I, lost their lives in that war. I am still alive for a reason and I will not live my life looking back!” So Emily was gone, but Sam and Becky and their young family had become a part of him now, more than Emily had been, in a different sort of way. They relied on him, as he relied on them. Right now, at least, that was more than enough for him. They had a farm to run, to make prosperous enough to support them all, and that was his main concern. Just like it had been his ma’s, all those years ago.
Deliberately and ever so quickly, he lifted the glass on the lantern and touched Emily’s letter to the flame. It burned to ashes and Johnny went into the house to get some sleep.
Days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months, and Emily did not cross Johnny’s mind, not once. He had not looked back. He hadn’t told Sam or Becky about the letter, didn’t think to, he had truly moved on. The only backward thinking he did was about the war, mostly thanks to Frankie Pender, who just wouldn’t let them forget it. There were more suppers at Sam and Becky’s, more stories swapped.
Certain things still haunted Johnny. Rainy nights still reminded him of the cold nights in camp, sopping wet and no shelter, even the summer rains chilled him back then. The hot days still reminded him of the forced marches in the searing heat of summer, half expecting to be shot at by the dang Yanks long before he and all the others dropped from exhaustion. And Frankie always reminded him of Gettysburg and the bayonet Johnny took on the side of his head, lucky to be alive then, feeling even luckier now.
The Northern carpetbaggers had pretty much gotten whatever they were going to get by then in Johnny’s neck of the woods. Rural Georgia had not held much fascination for those Yankees, though they did manage to squeeze every ounce of profit they could muster out of the place. Things had started to settle down and Johnny couldn’t help but feel that same restlessness that had plagued his father all his life. But there was one difference, Johnny knew the life he had was worth holding on to.
Journeying Back to What Used to Be. Original historical fiction that follows a Confederate soldier back from War. Delivered in brief vignettes, the series depicts this defining time in the history of our nation. Follow this Civil War Story About Going Home.
Journeying Back to What Used to Be, Part 23 (This one)