The war is over, everyone is talking about it and the joy builds up in my heart until I wonder if it will explode. Since the day the war first broke out I've been dreaming of this moment and the outcome it has brought. Finally the Union is whole again, all my hopes come true in a second but still I can not be completely happy.
For some reason my feet have carried me back to this field, a field were men fell and a field were men died. I remember the first time I was here, when the bullets soared over my head and the sounds of dying men could be heard for miles. Now it is quiet, just a field, or maybe sometime more.
Walking down the field I can close my eyes and still picture the rows of bodies, still smell the stench of blood and gunfire. It is etched into the very blades of yellow grass, every last speck of soil. Overhead I hear a bird sing and I wonder if it is mourning this place of death and heartache. Again, I wonder why I feel the great need to be here.
Surely, this place of all places is more painful then my family home or returning to those people who I left behind years ago. It is the place where I lost the second half of me so that never again can I be whole. This is place where James died.
No matter how many years pass, I know that I will always be haunted by the memories. How can anyone ever forget something such as is? For all of us that fought here there will be painful memories. I wonder how mnay others held a brothers hand as he died.
By now I have reached the actual spot. While the whole field looks the same, I can still pick it out, my heart is so broken and the memory feels so fresh. I kneel on the ground and look up at the blue sky. It was just as blue that day, I can swear to the fact. Everything makes me feel like i am traveling back in time. Of all the times I could be here, it has to look actually the same. I'm sure that tonight I will not be able to sleep for I will be thinking yet again of the horrors of war and death.
Behind me I can hear the gentle footfall of another man. I turn and look up into the eyes of a confederate soldier who for some reason has come to the same spot I have, still wearing the dusy gray outfit. "Hello." My welcome isn't warm, it is stiff and filled with the pain that I feel.
"Hi." The soldier smiles, he actually smiles at me, his old enemy. "Is there any reason for you coming to this exact spot?"
I nod right away. "It is the place where... my brother died."
It is strange talking to a man I don't even know, telling him this but for some reason I also want to tell him everything. The man's face softens and he looks at me. "So you are George."
This surprises me even more. How does he know my name?? "Excuse me?"
"You are George are you not?" The man looks nervous, as if he thinks he has just made a mistake.
Laughing slightly I nod. "Of course I am George. I... I'm just shocked that you know my name."
The man smiles some more and kneels down at my side, placing a hand on my shoulder. I look him in the eye, his gaze just as sad as mine is. "You don't know who I am, that's clear to see," he said, "I'm your brother's friend. I fought by his side many of times and I can tell you that he was a wonderful soldier and he mentioned you often, almost wishfully. He always thought that you shouldn't have left, it caused him alot of pain."
"You knew James?" I am surprised, having never expected to find someone who knew my brother on my trip here. The chances of that happening are slim, close to impossible and yet here was this man who knew exactly who I was and who had fought alongside James.
"Of course I knew James," he says, holding out one hand for me to shake, "The name's Harry."
I manage to smile back at him just that tiniest bit. "It's nice to met you Harry."
We both stand up then and look it each other. It is now that I actually get a good look at what the guy looks like. I already know that he's still wearing his war uniform, all of us all but I notice a few other things as well. His hair is dirty blond, although that could just be the dirt in it and it's slightly long, covering his entire forehead. Harry's eyes are a real light blue and they have a gentle sort of look to them, one I never would have put along with a reb before today.
With a quick shake of the head, I try to keep myself from calling him a rebel. After all, we are all on the same side now and he knew my brother. It is something that we can share in comman. "Did you know him long?"
It isn't hard for him to realize who I'm talking about and Harry nods. "Yes, I did since the beginning of the war."
"Let us become friends then," I say gently, "We don't have to worry about being enemies anylonger and it is something that in the end will be worthwhile. I'm sure of it."
Harry nods, agreeing and we start walking along the field together, as friends. We once met here under the heat of cannonfire but now we can link arms, share thoughts and realize that really we aren't too different after all. We are brothers, born under the same flag and we will die like under the same flag as well while hoping that never again will our country see such bloodshed. I know I am hoping it, and I speak for Harry as well, feeling sure already that he'll share my thoughts.
The memories of my brother may grow dusty someday, like everything will as time moves on, in slow motion but never will I forget. Two halves of the same soul can join, and then can be split apart again but the memories and the heartache will go one forever. Never will I see James again but I can see him still, fixed in my mind like a frozen snapshot of the past.... a past that has been destroyed forever.
However, I will go on, it's what he would want me to do, always move on. And I will, but still no matter how much I think of it, I'm sure that his image will never grow as dusty and distant as many other memories of my heartfeeled past. We are brothers.