I was high-tailing it across the field, checking the woods to my right, and the rise of the hill. Geography was important. I’d studied the layout from the bridge to the road. If I made the road, I’d have a chance to get back behind the lines.
It was June, I think. I was running through green grass not too high yet. It looked like the perfect place to just lay down and sleep for a day. I hadn’t had a real sleep in over a year.
If I wasn’t in a hurry, I might’ve noticed the wildflowers peaking up through the grass. Or the smell of the pine woods in the sun. Birds would be singing – I could see them on the posts of the fence I was heading towards.
But my nose was full of powder, and my ears still ringing. Had to stay a while. Make such the charge took and split the bridge in two. Doubted guards made it. Woulda been quite the sight if the train were there. But the General said “Blow it now! No bridge – no supplies.” McPhereson hadn’t made it back from reckernoiting when the train would hit the bridge. Probably lost another man. Could use every one of them.
I jumped the fence, and started down the road. Damn it was hot. My clothes stuck to me like flies to honey. Had to take my cap off and wipe the sweat ‘fore it were in my eyes. Then the answer to my prayers. I’d decided last minute to take the downward slope – just had a feelin’ the ridge was just too convenient. And, a good place to watch the road from.
The road twisted ‘round a corner, and was cut in two by a river. Well more like a crick, but to a sweaty, dusty, thirsty man from Tennessee*, it looked mighty good. Still remembered to look. They hid in the woods – learned it from us I bet. But no movement, only the sounds of the water and the trees. Weren’t too quiet. Just right.
I slide down the slope to the crick, and crossed as slow as I dared. Damn that water felt good. I drunk up as much as I could. Tasted sweeter than bourbon without the kick. No time for thinking ‘bout home and the boys kicking it up. No boys left, I magine. All turned to fightin’ men.
Noises on the road above. I slunk as low as I could under the bridge, holding my breath it weren’t them blue coats.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
This is a compilation of a series of re-occurring dreams from my late ‘tweens and early teens. Nothing going on in my life to become a Confederate solider at night. I have other vivid images such as trying to cross a strong, high river, and walking towards a Southern plantation house.
Sometimes I was seeing the world through his eyes. Other times, it was a pan-back like a movie and I watched the action from above. I’ve added an inner dialogue in badly written dialect. I remember images more than inner thoughts. These dreams continued for several years, mixed in with other dreams. The landscape continues to be part of my dreamscapes. Driving down the road at the ridge, or seeing the field and line of pines. Strange to feel a sense of déjà vu. Déjà vu inside a dream of déjà vu.
Out of curiosity, I searched the National Park Service data base of soldiers and sailors in the Civil War. My last name is unusual; I found 2 soldiers from the North and 3 from the South. I checked my maternal grandmother’s name. Again unusual, or I thought so. Turns out 233 fought for the Confederacy, and 92 for the North.
So was it inherited memory? Subconsciously remembering things I knew about the Civil War? My mother talking about Gone with the Wind? Or just a series of dreams that meshed? I don’t know. I do know the image of fording a cold, racing river is as clear now as when it was in my dream. I can’t say the same about yesterday, my childhood, and what I ate last week other than ice cream.
* I don’t know, from my dreams, which state; Tennessee sounded good.
Written for MindloveMisery’s Writing Prompt #105: Memories
“For this week’s prompt I want you to describe a memory in vivid detail using all of the senses. You can even experiment with past life regression if you like. Perhaps you have vivid dreams or experiences of déjà vu concerning one of your former incarnations. Work with those fragments and try to recreate a snapshot of that former life. The important bit is getting the reader to experience your words on multiple planes. Choose a title that embodies the primary emotion of the piece.”