Historical Fiction Romance

December nineteenth eighteen sixty three. 

Mary coddled her seven year old daughter Anna's frail body close to hers. Anna shivered and Mary wrapped the woolen blanket tighter around her daughter. As the war continued on sickness ravaged through her little north Carolina town. Taking the population down to almost nothing. No one would come to help so the towns people had to rely on prayer and sheer luck. Despite Mary's relentless prayers sickness entered her home. With her husband fighting in the war she was left to weather this storm on her own. Snow lay against the window pane and bitter cold seeped through the wooden door. They sat on a blanket on the floor in front of the fireplace to keep warm. With her daughter sick, Mary was not going to bother with keeping the entire house warm. She was not even concerned with keeping herself warm. Anna had taken her father leaving very hard. Adding to this hardship Mary was left with almost no means in which to survive. Mary felt she should inform her husband on how sick Anna was, but she did not know where he was. It had been months since she received a letter from him. Many she had tried to write but ended up throwing it into the fire. A she sat clutching her daughter in front of the warm fire she knew she was fading. Mary had a growing sickening feeling that her daughter would not make it through the night. Every time she felt the feeling creeping into her mind, she tried so hard to dismiss it by pulling her daughter closer to her. "Mommy tell me about you and papa." Anna  said weakly. Mary looked down at her and smiled "The story of how we met?" Mary asked.                           

Anna shook her head. She had been sick for two weeks already and had gotten worse as time went by. She was so weak she could hardly speak. Her breathlessness pained Mary as if the sickness was hers. "Well it was July in eighteen fifty eight. I was at a ball with my mother and father. I saw him talking to some gentlemen on the other side of the room. He must have noticed me as well because he came over and asked me to dance. I danced several dances with him before my father noticed. He disapproved of papa and made us leave. My father did not know that I snuck my address in his coat pocket." Mary was interrupted by Anna's coughing. She quickly got up and poured a cup of water for Anna. She held her head steady as Anna took a small sip. Mary wrapped Anna tighter in the blanket and stoked the fire with her free hand. "Do you want me to keep going?" Mary asked Anna. When she shook her head yes Mary continued. "Two days later he came to the house and asked my father if he was permitted to see me. My father rudely declined him and made him leave the house. He saw me looking out my window because that night he came back. I already had my nightgown on and was sitting on my bed reading, when I heard a tapping on the window. I got up and opened my curtain and saw him standing in the yard. I opened my window and climbed out onto the balcony. "What are you doing?" I whispered. I had to see you. He answered. He came to my window every night for one month. I fell more in love with him with every passing day. Finally two months later he came up to the house one day. I happened to be sitting in the parlor when he knocked on the door. Papa and my father walked into his office and I waited in silence. Then after fifteen minutes they came out and papa walked out the door. I stood to my feet and walked out to the hall. "Did you dismiss him again?" I asked. "My dear Mary you forget yourself." He said harshly. Well I ran out the door and through the yard to catch up with him. He said he wanted my father's permission first but he wasn't going to get it. He then got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Mary continued. Anna was intently listening to the story that she had heard so many times before. Mary could see in her eyes how tired she was, "Are you ready for bed my darling?" Mary asked her. "No momma, finish the story." Anna answered. "Alright then. My father stood on the porch and watched me accept papa's proposal. When I got back to the house my mother and father were furious with me. They said I was not allowed to marry papa. But I knew I was going too, so in the middle of the night. I packed up what I truly loved and I met papa in town. I took enough of my father's money to get us started. We got on the train and rode it here. We found a preacher and got married as soon as we got to town. And we went to the beach for one whole week. It was so perfect Anna, and when papa gets home we are going to go to the beach. " Mary continued with the story. Anna smiled at the thought of going to the beach. Mary reached under the bed beside her and pulled out a trunk. She opened it and grabbed out a beautiful shell, "Look, hold this to your ear." Mary said. Anna's little hand grasped the shell and she held it to her ear. "That sound you hear is the ocean." Mary said. Anna looked up at her surprised.  "How does the story end?" Anna asked weakly. "Well we came back home. And papa started plowing the field. It was too late to plant anything though so we had to go all winter without any food stored. Finally spring came and he started a garden. I was learning how to do all kinds of things that I had never done before. Then I found out I was going to have a baby." Anna smiled "Me?" She asked. "Yes you. I had you nine months later, December twentieth. Which is tomorrow. Papa was so excited to meet you that he cried." Mary finished her tale and was so tired so was almost to fall asleep. However, there was to be no rest for her tonight. She picked up Anna and laid her in the bed and wrapped her tight with many blankets. "I have to go out and get some more wood." Mary told Anna. 

Mary wrapped herself up a tight as she could and walked outside. Once outside the cold cut through her like a knife. She slowly began walking through the yard to the wood pile. When she reached it she had to dig with her bare hands to find some wood. Mary picked up as much as she could carry and walked back towards the house. She rushed inside quickly but once she was inside she realized it was not much warmer. Anna laid shivering on the bed as if she had no blankets on at all. "Hold on honey." Mary said as she threw wood on the fire. Mary warmed her hands and then felt Anna's head. She was burning up, her fever was the worst it had been the entire two weeks. Mary ran upstairs and grabbed some more blankets to wrap around her daughter. She sat on the floor by the bed holding her daughters hand. She must have fallen asleep at some point during the night. She woke up to the sun shining in the window. She saw the dying coals in the fireplace and quickly put more wood on. She looked over at the bed and saw her daughter laying her on side facing the wall. She stood up and leaned over her daughter "Anna." She whispered. Anna didn't move at all. Mary's voice became desperate, "Anna come on honey. Talk to momma." Again nothing. Mary sat down on the floor by the bed and quietly began to cry. It did not feel real that her only daughter was gone. Mary wanted to believe that she was dreaming. Could she be dreaming? Or was her daughter truly gone. Suddenly Mary lifted her head from the side of the bed and rubbed her eyes. She was asleep and dreaming, a warm tear rolled down her cheek as she remembered her dream. Mary noticed that the fire had died out so she got up and put more wood in the fireplace. Then she walked over to her daughter who was laying on her side. "Anna." Mary whispered as she rubbed her head. Anna didn't move at all. Mary suddenly felt as if this had already happened once before. A feeling now commonly called déjà vu. Mary's voice became desperate, "Anna come on honey. Talk to momma." Again nothing. Mary sat down on the floor by the bed and quietly began to cry. Suddenly a small hand rubbed the side of Mary's head. Mary quickly turned around and saw Anna looking at her with her big blue eyes. "Hi momma." She said smiling. Mary was overjoyed and tears filled her eyes. "Don't cry momma." Anna said rubbing her face. "They are happy tears." Mary answered. Anna had to stay in bed for a while longer however the threat of death was gone. Life despite the war seemed as if it had a little more joy now. The dark cloud of sickness that hung over Mary's house was finally leaving, and Mary was deeply glad of it. Her next prayer was that the war would end and her Jonathan would return.

June 25, 2021 00:59

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