Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Civil Valentine

Finish That Thought #32 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: The cat meowed, and stretched, and that was when I first heard [the scream].
Special Challenge: Set your story before the year 1900CE

Whether you like Valentine's Day or not, I hope you take the time to reflect and be thankful for those in your life who have shown you love!  Happy Valentine's Day.
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The cat meowed, and stretched, and that was when I first heard it. Or rather, when I noticed it, since one does not actually hear silence. Slipping my feet out from under the covers, I hurriedly shoved them into my slippers and threw a coarse blanket over my shoulders.

“Stay here,” I whispered to Luna, knowing full well that the fluffy grey mass would wallow wherever she chose to. Thankfully, she was more interested in the warmth of my bed covers than getting under foot. I fumbled in the darkness for a match and lit the candle on my nightstand with a shaking hand, the silence eerie after the constant thunder of gunfire.

Padding down the hall to the stairs, I met one of my servants on the landing. She too held a candle, her dark face blending into the shadows.

“I wuz jus comin' to get you, Miz Caroline,” Mabel said. “There’s someone at the door.”

I nodded for Mabel to open it and held the candle aloft to make out who was there. An officer in a grey uniform stood on the front step.

“I’m sorry to trouble you this late, ma’am,” the young lieutenant said in a soft drawl. He doffed his cap and stood fiddling with it, no doubt somewhat awkward about seeing a lady in only a nightshift. My mind, however, was whirling in despair at what his message might be.

“Is- is he…” my raspy voice couldn’t bear to ask the question.

“No, no!” the young man quickly exclaimed. “Your brother is well. In fact, he sent us here.”


The soldier stepped back and gestured to the yard. There was a small company of men, most of them on rudely crafted crutches or moaning on stretchers. I stepped forward hesitantly until I was standing next to the lad and surveyed the poor souls.

“They’ll die before they make it to a hospital,” he said softly, his baritone voice vibrating through the thin fabric of my nightgown.

I looked up at him, his dark eyes pleading in the flickering light of my candle. I took a deep breath and nodded, “We can make room.”

Immediately, I marched back into the house and ordered Mabel to wake up the other servants. Beds must be made out of the living room furniture, bedding out of my fresh linens. Unfortunately, the town house had very little room, but I was determined to make the best of it.

After over-seeing the transformation, I retired to my bedroom to change into something more suitable and sent Mabel to fetch my craft box.

“Wut you plannin’ on doin’ with this, Miz Caroline?” she asked curiously. I took the wooden box from her and set it on my dresser, opening it to reveal streams of ribbons, coloured paper, and pressed flowers. I handed her a pair of scissors.

“It’s Valentine’s Day!” I replied as the first light of dawn crept in. “We’re going to cheer those men up with some cards.”

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