Shadows of Despair

"Where you going loser?" Curtis knew right away that they were talking to him but just pushed through the crowd, ignoring them. No matter how long Luther stayed away he would always be known as the man's friend. Young men who liked to have someone to pick on never did forget.

He wondered if maybe sharing the whole story had really been a smart idea but also didn't know what else he could have done. The man had been lying on the ground bleeding with a broken chin. Who knows what would have happened if he'd just left him there. In the end the man had still needed surgery to fix the wound and hadn't shown up in school until a few months later. Curtis had been luckier, escaping the fight with nothing more then a broken wrist. It hadn't been a bad break and two months later all he had to show for the injury was a faint scar that was very hard to see unless one knew it was there.

However, memories lasted longer then physical wounds. As it turned out, the man Luther and Curtis had been fighting was one of the popular ones by the name of Liam and since Luther had vanished they took it all out on Curtis. But Curtis had learned to just keep his head held high and not pay them any attention. He just kept his eyes out for Luther, hoping against hope that his friend would return and everything would go back to normal.

"Curtis!" He turned at the sound of his name as a pretty girl with strawberry blond hair and bright blue eyes ran up to him. "Do you mind if I walk with you? I'm visiting my brother and we are going the same way."

Curtis shrugged and she fell into step beside him. "Sure, I don't mind... ah.." He didn't know the girls name.

"It's Sonia." She laughed and nudged him. "Don't tell me that you don't pay attention to people's names, even if I'm not really around too much. Everyone pays attention to you after you helped beat up Liam. I think you actually did a good job there. I wasn't too fond of the man."

Sonia liked talking, especially to the handsome man that walked beside her and she couldn't believe that he hadn't taken the time to learn her name. But she assumed that he had more on his mind then that after his best friend had just vanished into thin air. Part of her wondered what Curtis knew about it. However, she didn't think that it was right to ask.

"I didn't beat Liam up." Curtis said after a moment's silence. "People get a little carried away with their story telling skills and tend to say things that aren't quite true."

Right away Sonia was interested and she pirked up slightly. "What sort of things are they saying that aren't true?"

"All sorts of things," Curtis replied, "They say that I beat him up but I didn't hurt a hair on his head. It was Luther that broke the man's chin. But why am I even telling this to you? I don't even know you!"

"Maybe because I want to be your friend." Sonia rested one hand on his arm and Curtis didn't pull away. He actually like it more then he was will to let on and he was willing to become her friend. After all, it was nice to have someone to talk to since Luther wasn't around anymore.

It was when they were passing a group of students, talking about what they'd just heard that Curtis knew something had just happened. Shows had been fired at Fort Sumter which could mean only one thing, war. Curtis turned and stared at Sonia. "Did you hear...?"

"Of course I did," she replied, looking directly back at him, "What are you thinking about? Does it really affect anyone here?"

Curtis nodded. "It does affect me, I'm from Virginia, if they secede..."

"They haven't yet," Sonia said softly, placing a hand on his shoulder and squeezing it. "Why are you worrrying about a problem that doesn't even exist yet?"

Part of him wished that he didn't have to worry but the fear still pulsed within him, with every breath that he took. Because if Virginia seceded then he knew that he couldn't stay up North and worrying about his schooling. If it came to war, then Curtis knew that he would fight. Because he was loyal to his state and couldn't think of anything else that he could do. There was no way that he could just sit back and watch.

And then, as the days slipped past before Curtis' eyes, the news did come that Virginia had seceded from the nation. It was news that he'd been expecting but still Curtis could feel the pain. The other students stared at him, forgetting about the fight as they wondered what he would do. He didn't fit in with then, not after his state had just turned away from what they held near and dear. And Curtis planned to turn away as well. He was going back South.

As he packed his bags, Curtis wondered whether he would ever return to the place. It was a good school and it had taught him well but he couldn't reason ever coming back. It would be better to finish his education down South, if of course, he survived the war. Just as he placed the last shirt into his bag, the door opened and Sonia stepped in. "What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I want to come with you." Sonia grinned and sat down on the bed beside him. "And don't you say no either because it's a free country. I can do whatever I like and would follow you even if you said no!"

Curtis sighed, wishing that his new friend wasn't quite as stubborn as he was. He couldn't believe that she would want to take off with someone she had just met. "Why?" he asked.

A grin crossed Sonia's face. "I would have thought I'd made that clear already. I love you and I want to go with you."

His blue-gray eyes softened and a small chuckle rose in his throat. "Can you love someone you hardly know?"

"Oh, I know you well enough," she said, "I know that Luther was your only friend, that your goal in life is to be a lawyer, that you don't like salad and that you were raised by your rich grandparents after your parents died."

"I think you've been spying on me," Curtis replied but there was an amused look in his eyes.

Sonia laughed. "Would that surprise you very much if it were true?"

Curtis smiled and picked up his bag. "At this point, dear, nothing would."

Then they left his room together, to go South, into the nightmare of war.

When Luther escaped from the school after beating another student up, he didn't go far. In fact, he didn't even leave the state. He didn't have any plans to go back to school ever and couldn't even understand why his mother had forced him to go anyway. It wasn't like he was going to turn into a good man just be being smart. The only good thing that had come out of the whole deal was that he had met Curtis. Curtis, the only person who had even listened to him but was somehow so different then he was himself. But Luther had left the school behind and in the end, Curtis had refused to follow him. Another chapter of his life was through.

Luther could have spent his days asking himself why life was so hard on him but he figured that it was because he just didn't fit in. There was no reason behind anything and Luther had learned to deal with hardships since his life was on hardship after another.

He got a job at a small shop but it didn't pay much and so Luther found himself living on the streets for two months. Then the war broke out and everything seemed to change. Never had Luther pictured himself being a soldier but he coulnd't think of anything better to do. The army would provide him with food and shelter, two things he had to always fight for.

It never occured to Luther that he might not come back. He thought that war would be an adventure and that the army would become his home. Nothing seemed better then marching off to war.

So Luther signed up to fight for the Union Army, even before Curtis decided to head back South. There was no reason for Luther to wait, he needed the army if he had any plan of leading some sort of lie. He couldn't think of anything else that a small man who had no special skills could do to earn a living.

Only a small part of him wondered what Curtis was doing. He hoped that maybe his friend would sign up to fight by his side but he also realized that it would never happen. Curtis was fond of his home. But never did Luther let himself belive that his friend would fight against him. After all, Curtis would want to stay in school, wouldn't he?

There was a string of fate, holding the memories together as two friends went off to war, just like so many other friends went off to war. One would find himself part of the 20th Maine under a man by the name of Joshua Chamberlain. The other would one day find himself marching a mile in the hot July sun under the command of Lo Armistead. They were friends and they would met again at Gettysburg.