“You know if you keep looking at that ring long enough, it might disappear.” Ben teased as he moved them across the dance floor. Kathryn’s curls bounced as they danced to the music.
“I just can’t believe we are engaged.” Kathryn remarked with a smile looking up into his eyes. Anyone could see the love reflecting in her blue eyes especially when she looked at Benjamin.
“I’ve wanted to ask you for weeks but I couldn’t think of the perfect place. It finally came to me and I’m happy you said yes.” He said spinning them around in time to the music.
“Was there any doubt?” She asked glancing around the room before looking back at him.
“A little.” He admitted as she laughed and eased closer to him. “You know you are not supposed to be dancing this close to me.”
“Who cares, we are engaged now.” She pointed out and she intended to dance as close to him as she could. “Anyway we are at the back of the room so no one can really see us.” She reasoned looking around them.
“Kathryn, what would Ms. Maybelle think of your behavior?” He asked pulling her even closer which made her happy. She knew he didn’t care how close they were dancing, he just didn’t want to ruin her reputation.
“My mother would likely come and separate us to the require inches apart but momma is off talking to your mother at the moment.” She replied with a knowing smile. “As long as those two talk about our upcoming wedding, we are fine dancing this close.”
“As long as you don’t get me in trouble with my momma, we’re fine.” He laughed spinning them again. The ballroom was crowded. This was the first party of the season and people had journeyed out to show off their new dresses and to shake off the winter blues. This year had been hard due to the recent election.
Months and months of arguing had finally resulted in Abraham Lincoln becoming President last November. Lincoln hadn’t even taken office yet but the Union was already broken up. In January their beloved Georgia left the Union to becoming one of the seceding states. Things started happening fast as more and more states starting leaving the Union. Their represtatives were also leaving Congress. Three days ago the first shots had been fired on Fort Sumter. It had been very tense with everyone wondering what Lincoln would do in response.
“Are you worried about President Lincoln declaring war?” She asked. It was something they had discussed at length over the past few weeks. Tension was running high in the nation and there seemed to be only one outcome; war. She didn’t like the outcome and prayed it wouldn’t come to that conclusion.
He sighed as he stepped back from her a little when he noticed their mothers looking at them. “I am worried but if war is declared, I will fight.” He stated breaking her heart. He was a good man and she knew he would fight for Georgia.
“Why?” She asked. “You don’t believe in war.”
“I know but I will support my state and my rights.” He answered. “Kathryn, this war could mean the end of the United States or it could make us stronger.”
“It’s already the end of the United States.” She muttered. “They are already calling themselves the Confederate States of America. We left the Union in January and more states have left since then.”
“I know and I hope that things can be resolved but with Lincoln becoming President only five months ago, I fear the worse.” He whispered as they continued to dance almost if they were in their own private world.
“Why can’t he just let us leave in peace?” She asked.
“Would you willingly give up land?” He asked as she shook her head. “Exactly, he does not want to fight but he wants to preserve the Union and if it means war then war it is.”
“You talk like a politician.” She remarked slowly.
“No, it’s the truth. Every nation has been tested at one time or another.” He explained sadly. “A nation is only strong when tested.”
“Yea and most of those nations have fallen.” She muttered. “I just want our way of life to stand.”
“Nothing stands forever.” He whispered as several men started shouting. They stopped dancing and lowered their arms as they tried to figure out what was going on. People rushed into the ballroom as they waited with baited breath to hear what these men had to say.
“LINCOLN HAS DECLARED WAR!” They shouted as chaos reigned all around in the ballroom and the town. Kathryn closed her eyes and felt the shift in Ben with those four words. Their world was forever shattered. Breathing slowly, she opened her eyes and looked up at him and saw his resolution. He always knew that it would come down to this and in the back of her mind, she knew it too.
“Ben?” She asked as he looked down at her. Her heart broke in those moments.
“Marry me tonight.” He whispered. “We can get married before I leave.”
“What?” She asked not understanding what he wanted.
“I will leave in a few days now that Lincoln has called for war.” He stated. “We can get married before I leave. I know it will not be the wedding you have dreamed of but at least we will be together.” He said.
She shook her head as she tried to think of the words but nothing came to her. “I’m sorry.” She whispered. “I want us to get married but not like this.” She said as tears pooled in her eyes blurring her vision.
“I understand.” He said cupping her face. “Believe me, I understand.” He whispered as he brushed his lips across hers before pulling back to look down at her. “I love you, Kathryn.”
“I love you.” She said wrapping her arms around his waist. She had held him like this before but it was different this time. It was like someone had placed something between and she feared that it would never be removed. Their easy loving relationship was forever changed in those moments and she knew she would never get it back. He didn’t even have to leave, he was already gone.