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Historical Fiction Adventure Friendship

Robert needed to wash away what he felt were the sins of the world. What he had been through was an insurmountable level of personal anguish, heartbreak and grief that would take a lifetime to understand. Closure needed to happen and leaving the camp was the beginning point. Proceeding further, he asked the others if they could stop and he went down to the water and removed his boots. The others looked on, knowing this was what their friend needed to do to make peace with himself.

Robert looked out onto the water, took a deep breath, rolled his pant legs up and walked in. He suddenly felt grounded in his faith, bowed his head, whispering a prayer of hope. The icy reminder gave him pause to honor all who live by the water, near the water and on the water for the greater good.

Now it was time to move on. The sun was out but snow was lightly falling. Even so, it was great to know the end of winter was near. They found the dory in the right place and all were now settled in. Robert and Handy pushed off and rowed down the length of the seaway. Duncleave and Caswell were in charge of the wrapped bodies of Hart and Moore laying propped on their sides. There was little chatter. Contemplating getting back into being landsman, along with some difficult questions that would be asked, lay ahead. Each had to come to terms with how best to answer those with respect to Hart and Moore.

In the distance, the Atlantic Belle became the most glorious sight in the world. It was the best view that they had hoped to see once again. Robert yelled and waved the paddle overhead. The others followed with shouts of glee. Digging in the water with abandon their efforts brought them port side, and were met by happy faces and cheers from the crew. Robert and Handy climbed aboard, hands clapping their backs. Whistling and shouts met them all around. The mood then grew somber as Moore and Hart were lifted and passed on by many hands to the deck. Duncleave and Caswell took charge and called for them to be placed near the helm. Robert looked up to see his uncle standing behind the crew and gave a wave. Captain Wait lifted up both fists, shook them and smiled. It was good to have his boys home.

There was a lot of excitement on board and Robert felt the camaraderie more so than ever before. It was a good feeling. In amongst the sea of happy faces though, there was one missing, Will. How would he ever come to terms with losing a part of himself because that is what he felt. Time. Only the passage of time could heal. Knowing that they were brothers gave him great comfort. Would it have made a difference had he known sooner? Their chance meeting was destined and he would forever be thankful for how that happened. It was one brother’s plight that led him to find his other brother. It was meant to be. He was sad that Charles never knew this but glad that at least their paths crossed even if it was at the hands of the evil Mrs. Eagle and those boys.

Robert’s uncle was elated in seeing his nephew again and none the worse for wear. He was able to seek out the ones in charge and to arrange to have his boys released from Parole camp. He did his part in this time of war and would make peace in his own way. There was no right or wrong. He did what needed to be done; one Gray for one Blue.  They sailed the South River and down into the Chesapeake Bay to retrace their route back to Charlestown. The captain was made well aware through cryptology of the naval battles that had occurred recently in Arkansas where Union victories disrupted Confederate control of the mouth of the Mississippi River. He needed to know what was happening in all of the waters of the eastern seaboard. Their return eventually passed the coast of Virginia with all eyes on deck. This was a troublesome area for a Union ship so they sailed by with a Confederate flag flying high. It was a perilous risk but they needed to get safely past and then sail heavy out into the ocean. With success, they made good headway.

The return sail was under less duress than when they arrived and the weather was as smooth as glass a majority of the time. The winds were now more predictable with less impending storm centers causing havoc. Now the question was, when would be the right time for not one, but two sea burials? Captain Wait asked Robert to find out from the crew. He would leave it up to them to decide. This was the only way to right a wrong. The weather was soon in their favor. Now, was as good a time as any as they would soon reach the Rhode Island coast in half a day’s time.

It was decided. The burials would be at dawn’s early light. Both were prepared for departure; one to port side, one to starboard. As a prayer was recited, Hart was sent on his was barely causing a ripple. As the ocean consumed his body to the seabed, they watched the swirling water pattern until it disappeared. Amen. Another prayer was recited for Will. As hands brought his body to starboard, Robert felt the wind brush his face and a drop of rain hit his cheek. He smiled at this sign. He touched his brother’s body, put his hand to heart and said, “We will meet again.” With that said, Will was lifted and slipped below the water’s surface to settle down to the ocean floor. Amen

The ship continued to sail north at a good clip to reach the Long Island Sound, then sailed east to Block Island Sound. They passed several islands and went around Cape Cod before dropping anchor for the night. Home was near and the boys were anxious to be done with this voyage. They could smell the change of air. The captain gave thanks for this small reward. Land! It would be good to set foot on solid ground. Too long of a time spent at sea nearly spelled disaster for all.

Before going below for the night, Robert needed to be with his uncle. The captain sensed the need for a moment as well with his nephew. The two met at the bow of the ship and looked out over the seascape.

“Life is good. Am I right?” Robert’s uncle, the captain and a success story in every way looked to his nephew for positive affirmation .

Robert nodded, “Absolutely. No regrets.” He looked up and spied the constellation, Pyxis, the Compass. He pointed this out to Uncle John and they both agreed. It was a positive sign and one to lead them home.

March 05, 2021 19:16

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1 comment

Kutee Tilbe
08:06 Mar 11, 2021

Debbie Curtin, will there ever come a time wars would be story of the past? We, people of the world, fare better in influencing each other for a better tomorrow. There's a story book for children: The King, The Mice and the Cheese which ends in, 'I will learn how to get along with you, you will learn how to get along with me'. I hope for this day. Let's focus on nurturing children who will make it happen.

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