The day came early, the rooster waking me with his call. I rolled out of bed, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and headed down to the kitchen. It was a lonely time as I sat down at the table, the other chair, the empty chair, at the edge of my vision as I ate. I let a smile creep across my face, for though it was lonely, it was a loneliness filled with pride.
My gaze wandered to the rifle standing by the door and rested on it for a moment. I felt a small pang of sorrow, though it was quickly replaced by pride once more. I would have gone as well to help the cause of the South, but with the other half of my soul in the grave, only I was left to care for our home.
Done with my food, I tidied up the table before stepping outside. My tractor greeted me as I passed it, the new, red paint glinting in the yellow light of the rising sun. The pigs were still sound asleep, barely even stirring as I refilled their trough. I then glanced up at the clear, blue sky and determined that it was a great day to let the horses have free reign of the pasture. I hummed a soft, lilting tune as I opened the barn doors and ushered the horses outside. I laughed as one of them nuzzled my arm, hoping for a treat. From my pocket I produced an apple, then had to give one to each of the others before they decided to knock me down.
I leaned against the pastures fence and took a deep breath, savoring the tastes and smells of the animals, mulch, and manure. It takes a special kind of person to appreciate such things and I feel sorry for those who cant. Then again, it also took a while to get used to those tastes and smells before even beginning to appreciate them. I chuckled to myself, relaxing as a cool breeze picked up.
Now, some may call it laziness on my part, but I preferred to just stand and watch things for a while. I didnt consider myself lazy, I just liked observing the animals and they ate and played, as well as the way the crops seemed to dance in the wind. I nodded to myself, my gaze now resting on the tall stalks of corn. It would be a good harvest this year, I just knew it.
After a good, long while, I made to check on the other crops. I stopped as I heard an engine rumbling in the distance. Turning, I saw a battered, blue car making its slow way down the dirt road to my house. Curious, as I never got too many visitors coming; I didnt recognize the car, either.
It took five minutes for the car to reach the end of the long road, rolling to a stop right beside me. The horses and the pigs, who were by now wide awake, all seemed as curious as me. As one, we watched quietly as a tall man dressed in the garments of a Southern fighter stepped out from his car. He tipped his hat to me and asked me my name. I gave it to him and received his in turn, but for the life of me, I cant remember it. Nor can I remember the exact words he said to me afterwards, but it wasnt the wording that counted in the first place. It wasnt the wording that drove me to my knees, it was the content.
The man said something more, his tone gentler, his face filled with sympathy. But I heard none of it, my ears already filled with the sound of my own sobbing. I wasnt ashamed to let my tears roll from my eyes, down my cheeks, to splash on the ground below as the man whose name I couldnt remember watched. It didnt matter to me at the time, nor would it ever. Nothing much mattered to me as the horrible news set in.
I couldnt be quiet for even a moment to thank him for bringing me the news and for the kind words and consolations that came with it. But it didnt matter to me whether I left his kindness ignored or not. He gave up after a while, climbing back into his battered car and driving away as I continued to sob into my hands, rocking back and forth on the ground.
I dont know how long I stayed there. The animals were all deathly quiet, as if understanding a need for silence. When I finally got to my feet, silent at last, and made my way back inside, they seemed to all be watching me. I couldnt tell you if it was simply my imagination or if they truly felt my loss. No, not just my loss. I suppose it was their loss, too.
I sat back down at the table, eyes burning yet now dry. I rested my arms on the table, burying my head in them. It was terribly lonely as I sat there, like it had been for a while now. But now, now this loneliness was filled with nothing but sorrow. The silence hung thick around me, leaving my mind free to think about and realize how alone I really was.