January 1866Savannah, TN
Cannon fire echoed in the distance as she made her way across the battlefield. Mist covered the ground and hid the bodies she knew were there. She didn’t know where she was going, but something was calling out to her.
The smell of smoke choked her as she neared what looked like a pond. It wasn’t filled with water though because water wasn’t red in color. She could almost believe it was blood. There were men lying at the edge taking a drink while others were floating in the middle of it. She wanted to ask if they were all right, but something held her back.
Shaking her head, she walked around it to continue through the Peach Orchard. It was still too early for the fruit to bloom, but there was growth on the branches. Some of the trees were missing branches while others were nearly chopped down. She knew cannon and musket balls were responsible for the damage the trees sustained.
The wind whipped around her as she crept through the carnage. The voice calling out to her became more and more familiar with each step she took. The voice also grew louder with each step. The same voice had her crossing the Tennessee River during the battle to find who was calling her.
“Rachel,” the voice cried out.
“Colton?” she questioned as she looked around. She finally recognized the voice. Why had it taken this long?
“Rachel, help me,” Colton cried.
“Colton, where are you?” she asked as the mist started to rise.
“I’m here,” Colton answered.
She finally looked down as the mist cleared to reveal the ground and the prone bodies of soldiers. They were not just Confederates, but Union as well. The grass was stained as the pond was with blood. Glancing around, she finally saw Colton.
He was slightly to her left, lying on his back. She walked over to him and knelt down next to him.
“Colton,” she breathed as she cradled his head in her lap.
“I’m sorry,” he gurgled out. “I’m sorry, for leaving you and for not coming home. I love you, and I wish we could have had more time together. I know you do not understand my reasons for joining, but you will one day,” he promised.
She couldn’t say anything. Tears streamed down her cheeks and she choked back her sobs. Logically, she knew he was dying, but she didn’t want to accept it. She was only sixteen. They hadn’t been married a year. She couldn’t lose him. They’d planned to have a family together. What would she do without him?
“Colton,” she whispered as her tears landed on his cheeks and nose. “I love you. You can’t leave me.”
“I wish I didn’t have to, but you will continue on in your life. I know you will find someone who is broken and together the two of you will heal,” he stated.
“No, I will not find someone. Do you think I will forget you so easily?” she questioned.
“You will never forget me, but you will love again.”
She shook her head before wiping her cheeks. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath. “Don’t leave me,” she pleaded.
The battle raged around them, but she didn’t care. No one seemed to bother them, either.
“Rachel, I love you,” he whispered, as his breathing grew labored.
She ran her fingers through his hair. It was matted with blood, sweat, and mud. She watched as his chest rose and fell, but it didn’t rise again.
“No,” she cried as she tried to shake him awake.
Nothing worked to revive him. He was gone.