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Historical Fiction

The old dirt path was dimly lit by the lamps of the dilapidated stage coach, it's driver standing on the side, bundled in a dark cloak, his facial features hidden from view by the top hat he wore. He seemed to look to his right and upwards towards old hackberry tree that seemed bare except for one small leaf that was barely hanging on to a branch. The driver knew that it would not be long before that leaf would fall to the ground.

The sound of footsteps broke the silence, the leaves making a crunching sound with every step, unable to bear the weight of the feet. The owner stopped upon seeing the old stage coach and took off his own top hat and greeted the darkly clad driver. He ran his long fingers through some thinning hair.

"My apologies for disturbing you, good sir." the man began. "You are the first person I have met for the many hours that I have been on this road. Can you tell me where I am?"

The driver looked at this tall man but did not remove his hat. He simply stared at him for a moment, then sighed as he looked to the ground.

"No trouble at all, good sir" and bowed to the tall man. "You remember how you got here?"

The tall man seemed to be about to speak and then, paused and looked up and away for a moment, then down at the ground, searching for an answer to that question and finding nothing. "I have no memory of coming here at all and there is nothing here that looks familiar. Yet, I know that I have been walking on this path for hours at least."

"I was in town. I had just left the theatre and I was walking back. I had walked that way many times. I remember thinking that it was very quiet that night and I didn't see many people on what was usually a busy and bustling street. Then a fog came and obscured everything. I could make out a few street lamps along the road but very little else."

"I decided to keep on walking and following the line of lamp posts through the fog, but I started to notice that there were fewer and fewer of them as I continued to walk. At that point, I turned and decided to retrace my steps back towards the theatre; unfortunately, when I that all that happened is i got further away from the lamp posts. "

"I soon found myself in this dark wood". The tall man looked upwards at the sky. "And the sky," he continued. "No clouds, no stars no moon. Just darkness.

"Please help me, sir. I must get back to my wife and there are many things that require my attention. My dear wife keeps telling me that I ought to find some time to relax...."

"Yes," the driver said. "Yes, I would say that finding time to relax is important in life and even afterwards..... I can help you. I can give you a lift."

Moving closer to the stage coach, the tall man rested his right hand against it's side. The two black horse snorted briefly as he did. The tall man noticed them for the first time. Their manes had been carefully brushed and they had shiny coats as if they had come from a fresh stable. Obviously, they had been well cared for.

"Fine horses you have, here, sir"

"Thank you sir. "

Frowning, the tall man felt along the edge of the stagecoach, tracing the cracks in the wood of the old vehicle. The door seemed to be hanging on only one hinge. It seemed out of place when paired the two fine horses.

"You have had this stage coach for a long time".

"Yeah, I am in need for an upgrade. I have been waiting for long time for my passenger too."

The tall man blinked at the word, "upgrade", but dismissed that odd speech pattern and continued talking to this odd driver.

"How long you been waiting?"

The driver sighed and looked upwards and closed his eyes for a moment as if thinking for the answer to that question.

" I think it's been over 150 years but, I could be off a bit. I have sort of lost count to be quite honest."

The tall man stared at the driver, and stroked his beard and chuckled. " Waiting sometimes feels like that sir. I have had my sure of waiting."

Chuckling, the drive opened the old door, inviting the tall man inside.

"Let's just say, Mr. President, that I have been waiting on this road for a long time for you to arrive. You probably don't realize it but you have been walking past me countless times and never saw me once until..." he paused, taking a pocket watch out of his pocket and continued. "Just a few minutes ago."

President Lincoln's face seemed to lengthen as his jaw dropped. He looked at the driver again and then the stagecoach and the old unfamiliar path that where he had been traveling. He also noted that all of the trees on the path were barren He closed his eyes for a moment.

Pocketing the watch, the driver continued. "The first time I saw you, Mr. President, that oak tree ahead of us still had quite a few leaves on it. Now, as you can see, there is only one leaf left."

President Lincoln looked the old tree and saw the last leaf it seemed to sway on the twig that as if being hit by a a small breeze even though the night was still.

"I am sorry to have kept you waiting sir."

"No worries, Mr. President. My job is still the same no matter how long it takes. Some are more ready than others."

President Lincoln entered the inside of the coach and the driver climbed onto the driver's box preparing for the ride. As the coach began to move forward, he noticed that last leaf had floated down onto the path.

"Time to move on"

January 08, 2021 14:44

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