Yesterday I wrote this little scene as instructed in the outlining mapbook of One Year Adventure Novel. On my “Current Works” page I briefly mention the novel I have begun, step-by-step to plan. It’s been a drawn out process right now, but I’m working on it little by little. As to the little scene–I’ll share some background. The novel I am going to write follows the story of a young woman named Milly Clarence (a name I took to well enough), and her experiences during the Civil War, between North and South. Initially she is a self-centered, highly selfish creature…let me just say that she is hard to deal with and be around, in the eyes of outsiders, and chances are many won’t care for her. Throughout the course of the war she grows, is stretched beyond her imagining, and matures as she is put through pain, and learns crucial lessons that change her focus drastically to someone other than herself. There’s more to it than that, but for now I’m ending here. The scene depicts the moment when she has to watch her three brothers leave the quiet little farm in the hills of the Old Dominion (specifically, the Shenandoah Valley). I suppose it could be called a story sketch–as I roughly try to depict scenes with different moods to get myself “into” the characters and the story.
The Mapbook asked me to: Write a scene in which antagonist does something terrible to the MC’s (major setback)
The war is looming, and it threatens all that Milly loves. The storm is about to pick up…a deadly tempest…a bloodbath beneath a War Torn Sky.
I’d appreciate if you told me what you think!
A Story Sketch
I had never endured such a long, hideous night in my life—the night before Tom and Will and Jess left. My pillow became damp with tears, the night like one large cloak that would cover me forevermore. Even my breathing seemed…unearthly, and belonging to some ethereal beast just at my bedside. In the dark I prayed one small little prayer that seemed both helpless and forlorn. Had God heard, I knew not: only I felt sure that if my prayer had been taken into consideration, it possessed not real substance or worth. God truly couldn’t answer, nor could Providence change the irrevocable event that would happen on the morrow. Tom and Will and Jess indeed had been melancholy in some sorts, before traipsing off to bed. But I felt apart from them all at once—terribly distant, as though I stood on one side of a chasm and they on the other. The chasm would only widen, after they had left. And the mere thought brought the sobs in surges up into my mouth, emerging from my lips in choked little sounds. I hoped that Mother would not come in as she sometimes did, to kiss or stroke my cheek before she went to bed. She might discover my wet face, and should she, I felt it should not fortify her in her own fears and sorrow at her sons’ leaving us for the war. So I determined to be strong, and cease my crying. ‘Twas hard to do, but I managed to at last dry my face in my blankets, and lay for a long, hollow time, till at long last the softest rays of dawn shone in through the window.
The sight of them touched a deep chord of emotion, and I could not keep myself restrained from tears any longer. They flowed forth and I flew to the window, burying my head in my arms, and at last lifted my eyes to the sun which just barely shewn above the hilltops in the far distance, sending beacons of golden light down upon the valley—upon my head as I sat thus, trying to control myself, and thinking every moment of the boys. There was Jess, coming in from the barn, where he must have been preparing his mount for the day’s ride. And a scent drifted in—of side bacon, and breakfast—Cilla had already begun the morning meal, and though I usually went to help her, this morn I could not bring myself to leave till I had stilled myself into a contained, calm creature.
I heard the bedroom door open behind me, and then close, and I turned to see Tom move in, past my bed, and right over to me, at my position by the window.
“Why are you awake so early, sweet child?” he whispered, bringing his face close to mine with a gentle smile. Oh dear Tom! His large, soft eyes with their golden flecks gazed steadily into mine, as though he looked right into my soul. I at last made myself look away, biting my lip and savagely thinking that I would not begin to cry. And I did not at all mind that he called me ‘sweet child’. Suppose I never heard him call me that again…suppose I never saw those beautiful eyes, nor his little smile that always said a world of things…all the supposing did no good. If Tom ever came back…I winced…if he ever came back, nothing would ever be the same. I didn’t want to believe it, but it seemed like a large, monstrous cloud, that would forever shadow things, and leave its fog behind after it had left.
“I couldn’t sleep,” said I at long last, in my strongest voice.
“I don’t think it right that you shouldn’t get the proper rest,” Tom continued to gaze at me in his unruffled way, as though everything was perfectly at right, with such a peaceful expression that it seemed like there wasn’t a war to be fought, as though he wouldn’t be leaving later… didn’t I want to believe it!
“I don’t want to rest,” I sighed pettishly, “I don’t feel like it now.”
“Well, take care, pray,” replied Tom serenely.
“How can…” I stopped myself in midsentence, for I had nearly burst out with bitterness and regret, and at such fierce heights were these feelings that should I had gone on, everything would have been terribly spoiled. Tom suddenly drew me into his arms, and my anger dissolved immediately into stormy anguish, that poured out of me. I could not stop it.
“Darling, dear, don’t you cry now,” murmured Tom into my ear, “I’m just going off to fire a few at those blasted Yankees, and then we’ll be back. You mustn’t cry now, you really mustn’t… what sort of bad fortune might this bring—”
“Oh don’t, don’t speak of bad fortune!” I cried wildly. “I can’t bear to think of you leaving…twill ruin everything! Things shall be different, and I hate, hate the thought… Tom, don’t leave! You, Jess, and Will don’t need to. Papa needs help on the farm, and you don’t need to go away to the war…don’t Tom…oh don’t!”
“Things shall be different,” Tom’s voice was hoarse—his face pale when I looked up at him—indeed, his very visage had altered, within moments. He carried some invisible burden upon his shoulders—a burden of thought and feeling I myself could not comprehend then. He had to go, I later realized. Tom, Jess and Will’s honor and duty lay in their need to join the Confederate army—the South lay in their hands, in the hands of so many other fellows who had gone away from their homes. But now I selfishly refused to see beyond the fact that should they leave, everything would be ghastly, terrible and so difficult that every day would seem like a nightmare, constantly changing and shocking all who lived during this time.
Photo credit: book cover on the internet