A Bit Of Blue
May 03, 2012
The challenge this week for Flash Fiction Friday is Good vs Good
The best stories don’t come from “good vs. bad” but “good vs. good." ~ Leo Tolstoy
The above quote caught my eye and it was one of those things that I’d never heard before but knew in my heart it was true. Two people with noble intentions working against each other…fascinating. It brings to my mind all of those stories of brother against brother during the Civil War. There’s a lot of material to choose from. Let’s see what you can do with it.
Prompt: Write a story that set during the American Civil War that portrays a conflict between two good people
Word Limit: 1,500 words
Due Date: Thursday, 5/3 12pm ET
I decided to put a bit of a spin on this, using two of 'my' fairy tale characters, the woodcutter and Red Riding Hood. And a bit part for the witch.
Being Canadian, I didn't know much about this war - so found a link to browse from the Washington Post.
A Bit of Blue
"What about my boobs?" asked Red.
"Don't worry," said the witch. "We'll bind them up. Add a bit of makeup, keep your voice low, and you'll pass for a civil war soldier."
"Until I have to pee," said Red.
"Just find some shrubs, say you're shy," said the witch. "This new role be a good experience for both of you, and give you a chance to do something different together. Maybe will fire up some passion in that boy too."
Her friend the witch had managed to convince the woodcutter he didn't have to act the same with Red between stories as in them, that they could be more than strong silent rescuer and helpless naive woman. After 300 years Red was looking for a little more passion from him, more than 'just friends'.
"I hope it gets him going," said Red. "'I'm excited about this new role too, to be able to help out in this new interest for Civil War stories. I'm glad the Grimm's decided to outsource us."
"I like the one you're doing," said the witch. "So romantic, and yet tragic. Now hurry up, they're almost ready to start."
Red and Bruce were getting into character as Sarah and Thomas. They'd met some of the other characters, and had skimmed the background notes. Like any of the stories, this one had a life of it's own, a plot that had evolved and solidified over the years, that could move itself along. They were more than puppets though, the story relied on them to use their presence to it - while the stories had brought them to life, they in turn used power to boost the emotional impact of stories, to boost the power they had over their listeners.
"What about you're, ah, you know - "
"Bosom?" said Sarah. "Don't worry. I'll bind it well. And I'll crop my hair, rub some dirt on my face, and keep my voice low."
"I won't allow it," said Thomas. "Your place is here on the farm, not as cannon fodder in the Union Army."
"And your place is not with the Confederates either," she said.
"Those are our neighbours," he said. "We have to stand together against Lincoln and the other Northerners - they want one big government controlling everything we do. It's against our rights."
"I think our neighbours are more concerned with their pocketbooks than any federal control. They all need slaves to run their cotton plantations. what about their rights?"
"You didn't mind all the benefits our daddy's plantation brought you - the fancy balls, this big mansion. And he always treated our workers like family - even let some of the house slaves use his books to learn their letters. "
"But they were all slaves," she said. "And hardly any of our neighbours followed his ways - they all said he was too soft."
"They were just jealous at how prosperous this place was," he said. "And now he's gone, little sister. And there's a war that's already swept over much of this place and burn it to the ground."
They'd argued for days over this, hiding out in one of the barns with the few survivors, both convinced they were doing the right thing, both trying to convince the other. Most of the slaves had been let go weeks earlier - Sarah had convinced Thomas to give them their freedom. Some had decided to stay on, at what had become their home, in spite of her pleadings. Time had run out now, today they both were leaving to sign up.
"Daddy wouldn't have wanted you to do this," said Thomas.
"Daddy always told us to do what we thought was right," she said. "Besides, I think he secretly had wished for another son. In between all the parties and dinners, he didn't mind if I sneaked off and traded my gown and parasol for breeches and a rifle."
"You did become a pretty good shot," said Thomas.
"One of the best in South Carolina," she said. "So I'll ask to be a sniper. That will keep me safer from getting found out as an impostor - or from getting shot. Come here, I've something for you."
She stood on her toes, wrapped a blue scarf around his neck, and gave him a hug and a kiss.
"This was momma's favorite scarf," she said, "Wear it as a bandana when you go into battle. I don't want to shoot you by mistake -no matter how much you teased me when I was little."
Thomas was tired, and dirty. They'd been fighting for only a few months but already he'd seen countless friends and neighbours cut down. Often the only gain - or loss - was a farmhouse of a small creek. After a battle the infantrymen would argue around the campfires about whether it was all worth it or not. He shared their doubts himself, but was careful to avoid the discussions - as an officer he was supposed to treat their words as treason. There had been talk earlier of concessions, of a truce, but Southern pride always seemed to get in the way. His skills and courage had kept him alive, and earned him a spot today next to the General, not just as a servant, but as a protector, ready to give his life if need be. Thomas had caught his leg on some brambles on the way to the command post, and could feel the blood trickling into his boot. He grabbed the bandana from his neck, wrapped it quickly around his calf, and hurried over next to the General.
Sarah was tired, dirty, and had to pee. So far she'd maintained her role as a man, and as a sniper in the Union Army. It helped that her targets were always far away - she knew she wouldn't have the nerve to dance again with one of her southern friends and stab a bayonet in his gut. But even from a distance she was dismayed at how many died - and how quickly. Dozens mowed down in a rifle volley, or blown apart by a cannon ball. The few times she did talk with her fellow soldiers some were fired up with their cause, but some were confused and tired. She settled down behind her log, sighting her Sharps rifle through a break in the forest. She had a clear view of the Confederate General and his aides - too far to identify faces but his distinctive hat identified him. They were all in a cluster, but she could quickly pick off the ones in the way.
I liked it. It's interesting, the way you set this up.
An odd fact (on I didn't know until I found a book called a A Boy's War how the camps actually worked---how sometimes Northerners and Southerners would all camp together at night and then head off to fight in the morning: http://www.amazon.com/The-Boys-War-Confederate-Soldiers/dp/0395664128/ if you're interested).
The other thing... the guns themselves. I think it was Mythbusters that tested this one out... The accuracy of those older guns for snipping was pretty close to abysmal. It did happen, but those 800 yard shots were rare.
Posted by: Eden Mabee | May 05, 2012 at 12:45 AM
I didn't know about the camps, thanks.
I did look up rifles before mentioning a brand, the Sharp was used by sharpshooters in the North, had good long distance accuracy. Not sure what Mythbusters used.
Posted by: Ravens | May 05, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Beautifully done and well researched. Love the way you incorporated your 'fairy tale' characters into this. It went just far enough for me to see the great heartache coming. Brava! Please don't let this be the end of any of them.
Posted by: Joyce Juzwik | May 07, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Don't worry, won't be killing off any of these guys. May need some extra ones in fact.
Posted by: Ravens | May 08, 2012 at 09:05 PM