Nothing To Hold On To

June 10, 1896
Sarah Waters

In solitude there is a lot of time for thinking. These days I spend a lot of time thinking about the past. I used to dream about the future, about the places I wanted to visit and the people I wanted to meet. All of that seems quite silly now.

My freedom has been taken from me and for the first time it is for something I have actually done. The sheriff is dead and I shot him that way. It was not an accident, but deliberate action. Deserved in my opinion, but the law seems not care about details like that.

I find it highly amusing, the medics here at the army camp have spent hours treating my wounds, and all for nothing. It will not be long and I will be sentenced to death for murder. I always hated waiting for a spanking at home, but waiting to die in solitude with strangers for guards is worse. Maybe if I try to escape they will do it faster?

“Good morning.” The General said.

I turned around to see him ducking inside the tent which has become my home.

“Is it?” I asked.

He nodded as though he understood.

“I have spoke with just about everyone in this town about you.”

“Most of them probably hate me these days.” I replied.

“Some do, but not most. Most of them seem to think you are some kind of a hero.”

I blinked disbelief at him.

“My father was the hero.” I said after a moment.

“Yes, he was as well.”

“Does any of this have a purpose? Not that I don’t enjoy your company but I grow tired of waiting to die and a few words from you won’t be changing how I see any of this.”

“From what the medics tell me you will not be dying anytime soon, Miss Waters. Why would you be waiting to die?”

“I killed the sheriff. There’s no escaping it.” I replied.

“True enough, although he was also shot in the back. The purpose of my visit however, is to tell you, you are free to go.”

He smiled.

“Why?” I asked.

Why did I care to know? I do not know. I should have walked out of the tent and kept on going without ever looking back, but I guess part of me still cares about things even though I feel dead inside.

“Seems most of the people in this town tell a similar story of the sheriff cooperating with William Howe and his gang of thugs in kidnapping quite a few young women. Under this light his death is little more than another thug meeting his just end. Nobody is going to convict a woman of murder under these circumstances.” He said.

“So, if I was a man, I’d be in trouble?” I asked.

“You’re not so it doesn’t matter.”

I laughed at the twisted logic.

“Your brother is waiting to take you home.” He said.

“So, that’s it?” I asked.


I stood up and walked past him out into the open. Sam stood a few feet away. His face was torn between happiness and distrust. He stood his ground and waited for me to come to him. I walked slowly.

“Are you all right?” He asked when I was near enough.

“No.” I replied and kept walking.

The family wagon was a few feet behind him and I climbed up into it without waiting for assistance. Sam joined me a moment later. The general stood outside the tent and watched as we left. Sam drove the horses onward toward home and neither of us looked back.

When were beyond the borders of the camp I turned to Sam.

“Has our father been buried?” I asked.

“Yes.” He replied.

His voice sounded strained and nervous.

“I want to see him.”

“Okay.” He replied.

“Now, Sam.” I said.

Sam nodded and I sat back lost in my thoughts.

The cemetery was deserted. I could not help but notice there were lots of new graves. I wondered for just a moment how many men had lost their lives over the strike. No matter what the number it was too many though and so it did not matter.

Sam led me to our father’s. It was marked by a small carved stone. I knelt on the ground at it and my hand grasped at the dirt and grass. I am not sure what I hoped to find by coming, but whatever it was, it was not there.

“I’m sorry, Sarah.” Sam said.

“For what?”

“For everything. For not being there when you need me. For not waiting to bury him. For not saving you. For not saving him.” Sam said, his voice creaking with emotion.

“None of it was your fault, Sam.” I replied.

We stayed in silence for a few moments and then I forced myself to rise.

“Let’s go home, Sam.”

He nodded and followed me.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Melanie, thank you, you got this one so right, Sarah's and Sam's feelings come over brilliantly.
Warm hugs,