For Some Reason

From Chapter 16

When the house doth sigh and weep,
And the world is drowned in sleep,
Yet mine eyes the watch do keep,
Sweet Spirit, comfort me.

Robert Herrick

The night was long and Joab slept little. Tossing and turning, thinking about the task at hand reminded him of the sleepless nights in Sarepta before he returned to Oxford Town. Was this the true meaning of bittersweet? He was fond of Will and felt a kindred spirit because of the war. Not only that, without motive of any sort, he was hopeful he could help Will. The purpose of the trip to Shiloh was to try and bring an end to the harbored hate and hostility. It was not Joab’s intention to stir up a hornet’s nest of a different sort, one that could potentially do even more damage. On the other hand, he was so in love with Aggie he couldn’t see straight. In moments of reprieve from sinister thoughts of how it would play out with Will Cavanaugh, Joab remembered the scene on the Stephens’ porch. The touch of her hand on his face, her soft lips pressed against his own, the warm feeling he had that wouldn’t go away. Not that he wanted it to. He hoped it would never go away.

It was Sunday morning just before daybreak. Joab, having at long last fallen into a deep sleep, popped awake, hoping he had not overslept. He heard no one stirring as he got up and slipped into his old clothes and boots, stepped quietly out onto the back porch and washed his face in the pan of cold water, threw it out and drew more to replace it.

He took long strides to the barn and in ritual that must be performed twice a day, he sat on the milking stool, filling the first bucket to the brim, pausing in his thoughts to wonder how Samuel was doing. He longed to see him and his mother, Rachel. Why did I come here, he thought? Would life always be this complicated? I hoped falling in love would be easy and pain free. But it’s not. It has a sharper pain than anything else in life. Joab thought of Rachel and how she had loved his father passionately. And then he was gone—killed in a war that left her drained of every ounce of her being, for she and Thomas had been as one.

Joab thought, in light of Rachel’s loss, my light afflictions are nothing. How could I be so selfish? I should be happy for the few moments I've spent with Aggie, and if, God forbid, something happens between us—at least I will not be relinquishing a lifetime of love and devotion like Rachel had to do.

He lugged two buckets of milk to the porch and took off his boots, stepped inside to breakfast of hot biscuits dripping with butter and honey—

Jane Bennett Gaddy, Ph.D.
Trinity, FL

Scheduled for publishing Fall, 2012


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