Saturday, 31 May 2014

June Crusade for 2014.

Over at Scribblings of my Pen, Tappings of my Keyboard, Anne-girl's blog, the June Crusade is coming up! This year, the challenge is to write eight back cover blurby things and the first scene of each plot bunny. This should be quite a lot of fun!!!


Click here to see the post! Now I should get out my notes document on Google Drive and start thinking!!!

Monday, 26 May 2014

In Memory.

“It is where my loyalty lies,” James said, setting down the pots. His manner darkened as he looked beyond Edward and saw the minutemen lined up, and approaching them. “I must go. Sometime, Edward, in a better world, we may see each other again. Now go!” All boyishness was gone from his face, at nineteen James looked already like a man. He gave Edward one last shove and returned to ranks.
Edward stared after him, head whirling. He became aware of the troops advancing on each other, he vaguely heard the British general shouting at the Patriots troops to lay down their arms. He backed away from the road, his eyes never leaving James.  
The troops advanced on each other. Suddenly, a shot rang out from the British troops. Immediately, a volley of bullets poured from the guns, and to Edward’s horror he saw two men on the Patriot’s side fall, blood gushing from their wounds. He swallowed, and ran forward along the grass, keeping James in his sight.
By now, the minutemen had started firing, and Edward ducked behind a low wall. The troops kept advancing on each other. Through the noise of gunshots, he could barely hear the Old North Bridge creaking under the strain of many men tramping over it as the British troops advanced. ~A Test of Loyalty

As Carlos drew nearer, he saw some of the soldiers begin to try and put up a ladder to scale the wall. Captain William Travis, standing on the Alamo wall with his slave, took quick action. He and his slave aimed their rifles down at the Mexican’s heads and fired. As Travis did so, a bullet caught him on the forehead, and with a cry of pain and surprise the man plummeted back into the Alamo.
Carlos let out a cry himself, a cry of despair. The defenders’ leader was shot, probably dying at this moment. This couldn’t be happening! But it was. ~Attack on the Alamo

The smoke cleared and she saw William. It was only for a few seconds, but those seconds would stay ingrained on her memory forever. William firing his musket. William, his Union coat marked with smoke and blood. William, charging forward with a rage against slavery and the Southern states. William, standing strong as the Rebels charged back, making most of the Yankees flee in terror, dropping their arms and racing back towards Washington. William, and the look on his face as a bullet tore through the air and into his chest. William, catapulting from the force of the blow and landing bloody and motionless on the trampled grass. William, her master. ~Battle of the Bull

“About face!” The call came hoarsely and for a moment Tim thought it was for him and his ranks. But no, it came from one of the Rebel officers in the lane. Then suddenly the Rebels were retreating, then turning and running back, away from the lane. They had conquered. The lane was theirs.
Tim let out a whoop. “They’re retreating, Jeremiah; we’ve won the lane!” He didn’t wait for an answer, but kept firing as the Union troops chased after the retreating Confederate forces. Still in his angry frenzy, Tim fought harder than he had ever done that day. Gone were all feelings of fear or horror at what was happening around him and what he was doing himself, he charged ahead with the troops, driving the Rebels towards Sharpsburg. ~War Boy

“Tim... go home. Please.”
Tim shook his head, tears creeping down his cheeks. “I want to fight.”
“A war is no place for you. Go home, Tim.”
“No. I want to stay and fight. I have to!” Tim blinked to clear his eyes. “You can’t make me go.”
Jeremiah squeezed his hand. “You ornery thing. If I had the strength, I’d drag you home myself, kick how you might.” He gave a shaky laugh. “But listen, Tim. You need to go home; this isn't your place. You saw so many men die; do you want that to happen to you?”
“I won’t leave you,” Tim said stubbornly. ~War Boy

“President Lincoln has issued an Emancipation Proclamation!”
“A what?”
“An Emancipation Proclamation,” Lester repeated slowly. “It means that all the slaves in the Confederation are free, starting January first of the new year. The President is changing this war from a war over state’s rights to a war over slavery!”
Tim turned this over in his mind. “But... why only in the Confederation? The Rebels won't honor that; they’ll ignore it! This doesn’t make any sense to me. Why doesn’t he free the slaves in the neutral states?”
“I guess because he’s afraid to upset them and makes them leave the Union. I’m guessing the army will free the slaves as they take over portions of the Confederacy.”
“But why is the President doing this now?”
“Because of the victory in Antietam!”
“Victory?” Tim felt shocked. Then he remembered that he had never yet asked which side had won the battle. “We won?”
“Well, sort of. General McClellan let the Rebels escape back towards Virginia, and didn't beat them to a pulp, but still we pretty much won the day! And now, President Lincoln took this victory to make the big step and issue the Emancipation! It’s been issued for about a week or so, though it doesn't go into effect yet, but we only heard of it today. Don’t you see? Because of the battle you fought in, the slaves are going to be free!” Lester’s face was shining as he danced away to spread the news. ~War Boy

The next day, July fourth, the Rebels pulled back towards Virginia. Our troops rejoiced and celebrated on that bright Independence Day. We had won that battle at Gettysburg. But though I shouted with my comrades, a respect and sadness for the tens of thousands of dead and wounded filled my heart. I shall never forget the great sacrifice all those brave souls, on both sides, made by laying down their lives on the green hills of Gettysburg. May God soon bring peace to this broken nation.
Your brother,
Nathaniel Simmons ~Broken Nation

The General paused and gazed out over the assembled men. "I know that I ask a great arduous thing of you; you who have already been through so much. But, for the sake of our Confederacy, I must ask you to press on."
Jeffrey had tears in his eyes. For a moment all was quiet. Then, in one movement, the ranks of dusty, tired, starving men pumped their fists in the air and let out their blood-curdling Rebel howl, screaming their loyalty to their great leader.
His throat hurting from his shriek, Jeffrey waved his rifle in the air. He thought he saw tears glistening in the General's eyes as Lee bowed his head in thanks and rode away. ~After Four Long Years

The two men shook hands and Lee mounted his horse. Several guns went off in celebration, but Grant turned on the men and said, "No firing. Have respect. This bloody war is over and the Rebels are once more our countrymen." ~After Four Long Years

"I thank you, men, for the bravery, valor and unchecked enthusiasm for our cause. I could not have asked, nor never will ask, for a better and more dedicated army. My loyal soldiers, I thank you with all my heart. In three days, we will lay down our arms before the Union army, bravely, and like the men that we are, after which you may go home."
Jeffrey was crying now, and not the only one to do so. The men and boys pressed near to their beloved Lee, thanking him in broken voices for leading them so well. ~After Four Long Years

“I was living in New York when the war started, and immediately signed up with the sixty-fourth New York infantry regiment. I think the battle we fought at Antietam and the one at Gettysburg were two of the worst. At Antietam, a boy named Timothy who shared a tent with me and two other men had his leg blown off. He was only sixteen.” ~West By Train

The sun was beginning to go down as I halted at the corner of Main Street, very near to my own house, to examine the last few telegrams in my bag. There were only two left; one for.... shoving the second telegram into my uniform pocket, I stared at the envelope in my hand for a long moment. It was addressed to mother.
For a long moment I gazed at the envelope, which lay in my shaking hand like a death sentence. Finally my numb fingers ran across the surface and detected a lump.
No. ~We Regret To Inform You...

My feet were dragging, but I made it to the porch. “Telegram for Mr. Smith.”
He took it, and one hand was in Cindy’s as he slit open the flap. I held my breath as the awful silence stretched on while he pulled the telegram from its hiding place. I was clinging to the one hope that there were no medal lumps in the envelope.
“He’s coming home!” The words burst from Mr. Smith’s lips and Cindy jumped to her feet.
“Home!? He’s all right then? Oh, thank God!” ~We Regret To Inform You...

“Hostilities exit. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces-- with the unbounding determination of our people-- we will gain the inevitable triumph-- so help us God.”
Once more there was applause. Annie felt her face glowing with pride. She would help America. She would.
“I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”
The applause and cheering were so loud it seemed the radio would topple over. Annie folded her hands together and took a deep breath as a man announced the National Anthem. Annie, Bernice and mama stood up as the familiar strains poured into the living room.
Annie placed her hand over her heart. Tears blurred her eyes but she shook them away and fixed her eyes on the American flag in the garden out the window. No matter how long it took, she would help to win the war. ~Time of War, Time of Peace

Lord, this is awful. Please help me get through this. I don’t want to die. After giving this quick prayer, Ben got a hold on himself. Stay with your group, he thought firmly. Find your unit and stay with them. Follow orders.
But where was his unit? Ben lifted his head and looked all around. There, he spotted familiar faces crawling through a hole in the barbed wire. Ben moved to join them, his heart galloping in his chest as bullets flew all around him. It was almost like a game; try to get to safety before the enemy shoots you.
Ben almost laughed. Some game. A horrible, blood-thirsty, inexplicable game of warfare. The words of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the Civil War went through his head.
“It is well that war is so terrible-- lest we should grow too fond of it.”
Ben shuddered. He would never grow fond of war. ~Invasion Into France

This last snippet is out of order form the others, but concludes this post.

Home to stay. But so many other men would be going out to lose their lives.
Dear Lord, please bring them back soon. Please end this war quickly, she prayed silently. The Bible verse from that fear-filled Sunday in church floated into her mind.
“A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace.” ~Time of War, Time of Peace

In memory and honor of those who have served, and those who are serving, in our military.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Continuing Part.

That title was so I didn't say "The Next Bit" again. :D

The following day I started delivering telegrams. As I left the house, mother gave me a long hug. She was about to head out on her own job, and the house would be empty except for our cat, Sheila.
“Be respectful, Jack,” mother reminded me.
I nodded. “Yes ma’am.”
“Also, be compassionate. You’ll be bringing telegrams that will most likely give bad news to the families, so don’t look bored or annoyed.
I swallowed. “Yes, ma’am. Have a good day at work.”
“Thank you, Jack. I’ll see you tonight.” She left for the bus stop and I watched her go, feeling all heavy, like a cannonball. Even my feelings are relating to war, I thought, shivering, and biked down the road.
After receiving my load to deliver, I started down the road on my bike, trying to calm the beating of my heart. I felt about as ready to embark on this delivery as I would have been to embark on a war mission in Africa. My palms were sweating and the handlebars felt warm and sticky. I reached the first house.
My finger found the doorbell and I hesitantly pressed it twice in the well-known signal of a telegram. Heart thudding, I stepped back, waiting for a answer, the telegram in my sweaty palm.
In a moment, a nervous woman opened the door. “Yes?” Her voice was fearful, and her eyes darted from my face to the telegram, as if trying to discern what news I brought her.
I took a deep breath and handed her the envelope. “Telegram for Mrs. Stone.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, and shut the door.
I let out my breath in relief. At least I didn’t have to see her reaction to whatever was in that brown envelope. Mounting my bike, I started down the street, feeling the cool breeze flow refreshingly against my brown uniform shirt. The shirt was one of dad’s old ones, cut down to fit me.
Glancing around the street, I spotted Brad and another one of my friends, Gregory, walking down the street. I raised my hand and waved to them. To my surprise, they both just stared at me. Brad’s face was white and there was a touch of panic in Greg’s eyes.
I stopped my bike beside them. “Hello, fellows! What’s wrong?”
They took a step back at the same time, and it was then that I noticed their eyes were staring at my shirt, and my bag full of telegrams. My throat felt all choky as I remembered Brad’s face when he got the news about his da and I swallowed hard. “Ummm, well.... I guess I’ll see you both later.”
I could feel their eyes on my back as I pedaled off, and I could guess that Greg was hoping I would go nowhere near his house. Well, I had no telegrams for him or his mother, but even though I understood their fear, it hurt to see them look at me in that way.
Just like people would look at dad, I suddenly realized, screeching to a halt at a crossroad. Into my mind flashed the many times father and I had been together as he walked me to or from school, in his telegram uniform, and the looks people would give him. Not angry, exactly, but more fearful or uncertain.
I arrived at the next house with a sinking heart, for I knew the people who lived here. Dismounting, I walked slowly up the walkway onto the Smith’s front porch and rang the doorbell twice.
Mr. Smith answered, and for a moment seemed surprised to see me. “Jack! What are you--” Then he noticed my shirt. “Oh. I see you have a telegram.”
“Telegram for Mr. Smith,” I choked out.
He took it, one hand smoothing his white hair. I knew that his grown son, Johnnie, was in the war. Johnnie had no family, only a girlfriend he was going to marry when he returned. I just knew what the telegram was going to say. Mr. Smith slit open the envelope and scanned the contents of the telegram right in front of me. I wished he would shut the door, for I felt obliged to stay until he did.
“Oh Johnnie,” he whispered suddenly, his hand clutching at the door frame. “My poor son.”
“Mr. Smith?” I whispered. “Mr. Smith, are you all right?”
He looked at me distractedly. “What? Oh... no. No, I need to sit down.”
He looked about ready to fall, so I grabbed a porch chair and let him sink into it. “Johnnie?” I asked, then bit my tongue, wishing I hadn't said anything.
He nodded, tears glittering his in blue eyes. “He’s missing in action.”
Missing in action. The words cut at my heart. Poor Mr. Smith. He had no idea if his son was dead, alive, or captured. I touched his hand awkwardly. “I-- I’m sorry, Mr. Smith.”
He didn't answer, only started out over the street, so I turned and went back to my bike. I was about to mount when Cindy, Johnnie's girlfriend, came up the street toward me. She took one look at her fiance’s father sitting so silently on the porch and her eyes grew large.
“Jack, what happened?”
I gulped. “J--Johnnie’s missing in action. They don’t know where he is.”
Cindy put a hand to her mouth, her engagement ring catching the sun and flashing at me flauntingly. “Oh no!” she whispered. Tears rushed to her eyes, but none spilled over.
“I’m sorry, Cindy,” I mumbled, rubbing at my arms. To my surprise, she reached out and gave me a hug. Though her perfume was strong, I let her hug me, knowing she was hurting and needed someone to hold onto. I wished I was bigger, so I could hold her up, like Johnnie would have.
“I’m so scared for him, Jack,” she gasped out, as she began to cry.
“They’ll find him!” I squeaked, then tried to make my voice deeper. “I’ll bet they’re really good at finding people! Don’t worry, Cindy. Don’t despair. I know he’ll come home!”
She smiled. “You remind me of Johnnie, Jack. Thank you. I’ll try not to despair.” Leaning down, she gave my forehead a quick kiss. “I’ll go see how Johnnie’s pa is holding up.” Trying to compose herself, she hurried past me up the walkway.

I glanced around to make sure none of my friends were around, she wiped off the remains of her lipstick and mounted my bike. My eyes burned as I thought of Johnnie, missing somewhere in France, but at the same time I couldn't help wondering if anyone had ever kissed father’s forehead on the job. Probably not. Well, if it had made her feel better, then I was glad.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Back On June 5th!

Over at Further Up and Further In, and the other hosting blog, Beautiful People is starting up again, beginning on June 5th! This shall be lots of fun!!!

Monday, 5 May 2014

A Fresh Start.

"Water kills, you know."

The words, sharp as the broken glass from the window, pierced the calm silence and made him jump. He turned and stared at her silently, waiting for another outburst.

She moved toward him, slender hands hanging limply at her sides, not in their usual defiant position of being crossed over her chest. She moved until she was just behind him and stood staring past him at the gentle waves.

"I know," he answered slowly. "But it brings life as well."

She frowned, her nose flaring. "How?"

He sighed. She knew perfectly well how, of that he was sure of, but she had to oppose him in every way. "It quenches the thirst of plants, animals. People. It keeps us from dying of thirst. It cools us and cleans us and makes the earth seem new." He turned, a smile on his face. "Haven't you ever gone out after a rainstorm and just sucked in the beautiful cleanness of it all? Like all the wicked things in the world were, at least for a little time, washed away and everything had as fresh start."

He had caught her hand in his eagerness and for a moment she let him hold it, and wrenched away and walked straight up to the ocean's edge, watching with something akin to fear in her eyes as the waves drifted in and out. "Perhaps so. You needn't sound so poetic, Leonardo."

He sighed. "Everything I do seems to make you upset."

She stiffened but said nothing and he pressed on. "You have to find fault with everything, not just with me, but the whole world. Why, Angela?"

She whirled on him like a serpent ready to kill, and for a moment he thought she would hit him. "Don't call me that!"

"I'm sorry, Angelina," Leonardo apologized, careful to use her full name. "I forgot."

"Forgetful boy."

Never mind that he was a year older; she insisted on calling him 'boy' whenever she was mad, which was most of the time. He sat down in the sand and called for Vera. She ran to him, nearly flying over the sand, hair streaming out in curls behind her.

"Vera, come sit," he smiled, taking her little hand.

She plopped down beside him and nestled her head against his shoulder. "Yes, papa?"

He smiled. She would keep calling him that, jut as Angelina insisted in calling him 'boy.' He cupped a handful of saltwater in his palm. "Look at the water."

She obeyed dutifully, splashing up some water of her own and squeaking in dismay when it ran off her skin back into the sea. "It won't stay!"

"No, it won't. This water is just like life. We want it to stay, but it won't. It slips away from us" Leonardo glanced at Angelina; the girl had knelt down and was holding her own palmful of water, watching him from behind her curtain of hair.

"It's like what that man said, back in Rome." Vera pointed at the city far away in the distance, barely visible form their position.

"What man?" Leonardo smiled, touching her curls.

"The man outside the church."

Both Leonardo and Angelina stiffened at the same time.

Vera kept talking, oblivious of their discomfort. "He said that Jesus was like water, the cleanest ever, and He would wash away our sins. I don't know what 'sin' is, but the man said it was something worse than the blackest stains, and that it covered our hearts." She stared at her own chest, as if trying to see some hidden stain. "I don't like stains," she said, wrinkling her nose. "I want this water, papa. Can you get me some? Who is Jesus? Can you find Him for me? Does He live in the sea?"

Leonardo got to his feet and took Vera's hand. "We need to find a place to sleep," he said quietly, hoisting the little girl to his back. "Never you mind about Jesus."

Vera fell silent and Angelina fell behind him as Leonardo headed up the beach. At the top of the slope he turned and looked at the waves. Vera's words echoed in his head. "He said that Jesus was like water, the cleanest ever, and He would wash away our sins." His won words drifted through as well and he wrinkled his forehead. "Haven't you ever gone out after a rainstorm and just sucked in the beautiful cleanness of it all? Like all the wicked things in the world were, at least for a little time, washed away and everything had as fresh start."

A fresh start. Was that what he needed? Would this Jesus give it to him?

Leonardo shook his head and turned his back on the ocean. Too many questions. He wished he had never set eyes on the sea.

Chatterbox is held by Rachel over at her blog. This month's theme was water!