Author's Note: This was orginally written as a new story entirely, just going along with my short story series that Quenching Glory is a part of. However, I didn't think it would make as much sense alone and so I've decided to post it is a part of this story.
I find the man that I am looking for quite quickly considering that all I know is his first name and appearance. If you ask long enough, sooner or later someone will be able to point you in the right direction. Up to this point I haven't really made any friends. There is something about me that makes me a bit of a loner so I tend to spend my time hanging in the background. But there is something about Jim's presense that draws me to him, just as a magnet is drawn to steel.
He looks at me and a smile plays out across his face, making me smile as well. His eyes appear to sparkle and although they are blue, so unlike my brothers brown, they have the same gentle touch. It is strange how this man can remind me so much of James who is out of reach with the rebels while I wear the blue of the North. But I cannot deny the fact that he does.
"You wanted to say something George?" Jim is looking puzzled, almost as if he is wondering why I am staring at him so much. I'm sure that he doesn't understnad my heartache but I still believe that he will feel sorry for me. Maybe that is why he is the one I wish to speak with. Because he looks like a good listener.
Still, I don't quite know where to begin. Where does my story really begin? With the start of the war or even before that when James and I realized how alike we really are? And where will my story end? With the end of the war or will it go on forever? Is there really a ending to this nightmare? These questions make me want to step back and forget about ever talking about this but I can't do that. Jim is still standing there, waiting for an answer. So I choose a starting point and begin my story.
I tell him about the friendship I had with my brother, what my brother belives in, that the war has pushed the two of us in completely different directions. Then I go on about how I felt during the battle when I wondered if he was getting himself hurt of if he was just fighting me. It feels good to talk about my troubles, like a great weight has been lifted off of my chest. Like I assumed, Jim is a very good listener and he listens to every last word that leaves my mouth and so as I go on, the talking gets easier.
When I finish, my mouth feels dry from saying so much. Usually I am very quiet and odn't have much to say. One can say that I just had to get everything off my back. "Sorry," I say softly, "I guess I rambled for a bit there."
"It's alright." Jim places a firm hand on my shoulder and I marvel at how wonderful a person he is, so kind and caring. "There are times when you need to just talk about your troubles."
There is so much truth in his words but I can't think of anything to say so I just nod and look into his gentle eyes, feeling at peace for the first time since the fighting. He smiles and meets my gaze. "Come with me George."
Jim starts walking and I've got no other choice but to fall into step beside him. It really is a beautiful day. If one listens carefully one can hear all the birds singing, having returned after the sounds of battle scared them all away. The sky is a beautiful shade of blue as well, barely a cloud in it. But even the few clouds seen wonderful as they drift lazily across the sky. It could be that I appreciate all this because not too long ago I was faced with death and dying faces of the men who had marched alongside me. One really thinks about life differently after seeing what death is like.
After walking a short while we come across a river and Jim stops beside it. I pause, watching the water splash across rocks that are trying to block the flow. "This is a pretty place. How'd you find it?"
"We found it together, call it luck." Jim steps to my side and places a hand on my arm, causing me to jump as I didn't expect the sudden contact. I glance at him and he keeps talking. "I just wanted to get away because unlike you I prefer to cling to my secrets instead of letting them fly away. But you chose to talk to me and so I will talk to you."
I am surprised that he was a secret he has been trying to hide but then I realize that we all have secrets. There is always going to be something that we are ashamed of and try to cover up. However, I never expect anyone to want to share anything with me. I guess this is Jim's way of thanking me for reaching out.
"Before the war I had a very loving family," he tells me, "We were always together. But the war changed everything. My parents started fighting over who was right and who was wrong. My mother believed in liberty and freedom while my father would say that this is the American Revolution all over again expect that this time we are the ones in the wrong, trying to control people who we shouldn't be ordering around. Well, I wanted to show them both that I could make my own decisions so I signed up for the army. My father nearly had a heart attack and then he vanished. Often I blame myself for his departure."
Now it is my time to feel sorry for someone who doesn't have a very easy life either. Jim is a person just like I am, who comes from a family of mixed beliefs. We shouldn't be fighting with one another but that doesn't stop us, we do it anyway. It is a shame that our country has come to this and that now we will kill each other because we find it so hard to work things out peacefully.
Looking into Jim's eyes, I can see on the pain on his features. "It's not your fault," I assure him, knowing that it's what he needs to hear.