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well this happened. what do you think?

Ghosts of Gettysburg || Listen to the Silence

November 7, 2020

PROMPT: Setting as Mood

4
The wind whistles through the grass in the field - the occasional cry of a bird breaks the whispers. The field is never silent. When the wind stops the birds chirp, when the birds stop the crickets sing, when the crickets stop the wind whistles and on and on and on.

She walks at the back of her group. Her father wrinkles the map - holding his flashlight between his teeth to get a better look at it.

"I think we're almost to the other side," he mumbles. Her mom leans over his shoulder.

"Are you sure?" Her mom says.

"Nope. But it can't be too far now." He starts walking again. The rest follow suit.

The sun has just begun to set and the wind starts to pick up. It whispers over her shoulder and tickles her neck. She can't help but glance backwards again and again; she can't shake the feeling someone is following her.

They walk for another hundred feet or so before she starts to hear things. Voices. screams. pain. The silence. The unspeakable, horrifying silence. She knows the field is never silent, but the further down the sun recedes into the sky the quieter it seems to get behind her. she hurries forward to rejoin her family.

Then she stops.

"The union forever."

The melody rolls hauntingly over the hills.

"Hurrah! boys, hurrah!"

She closes her eyes and there's more.

"Down with the traitors,
up with the stars."

She tries to open her eyes but can't.

"While we rally round the flag, boys,
rally once again,
shouting the battle cry of Freedom."

She opens her eyes and stumbles. The ground has suddenly become uneven. unstable. She glances down to try and get her footing and her stomach rolls over. She's standing a foot or two above the ground. She's standing on bodies. translucent, pale, bodies, of boys and men of all ages. They're distorted and broken, bloodied and bruised.

It is anything but silent.

She turns to her left and glances down. There's a boy there, about her age, shaking the shoulders of another older boy. the older boy is dead.

"Wake up, God Harry wake up, you gotta wake up he's gotta wake up." The younger boys' cries get more desperate with every second, and the shells get louder with every moment.

"Jack we gotta go! there's too much fire." An older man grabs Jack's arm and tries to pull him along the ground, out of harm's way from the fire.

"But James he's-"

"We gotta go!" Then Jack looks right at her.

"Can you save him? Please save him!!" He pleads.

A shell explodes and Jack and James do too. She stumbles again and the world shifts. 

She's still on top of bodies but there are more. Thousands more. She shivers and hugs herself. There's something off about it all, beyond the bodies and rivers of blood. It takes a moment for her to realize.

It's dead silent.

There are no birds. no crickets. No human voices. not even any wind. It's stagnant.

It's almost like the field died, too. Along with Harry and Jack and James. Along with all those other men and boys and grandfathers who can no longer live, no longer breathe, no longer speak and the field can't speak either.

The girl tries to breathe but can't. She tries to move but she's stuck in the blood. Their hands pull her down to the ground and beg her to fall asleep beside them so they might have a friend to talk to before they close their eyes.

Oh, how they want to close their eyes.

She opens her eyes and times restarts. Her family is two steps away. The wind whistles through the grass. The trees cast shadows on it all and she is alive.

She breathes the air deeply. The wind wisps through her hair and she glances over her shoulder.

Jack is smoking a cigarette while leaning on a tree. He's in uniform, smiling slightly. Harry and James stand beside him. He passes the cigarette to James. She stares, unsure of what to do next. James smiles at her too, and holds his flask up in a toast after he passes the cigarette to Harry. She tilts her head. They smile. She tentatively smiles back.

"Shouting...the battle cry of...freedom."

One final chorus. She turns back and rejoins her family.

"You know," her dad says, "they say this place is haunted. and the later it gets, the more likely you are to see a ghost! think we'll see one?" he asks the girl. She shakes her head.

"I think the soldiers want to sleep," she replies. "it's been a long day for them." Her dad laughs. She glances over her shoulder one more time. Jack winks, and then all three fade away into nothing.

Turning forward again, she continues on. The ground does not come alive again that night, and the wind doesn't speak, only blows. 

But when she takes a breath and holds it, tilts her head and listens closely, she can hear it. The shells and guns and screams. the laughs and cigarettes, complaints and joys - it's all there. The ghosts of Gettysburg are there. you just have to listen to the silence.

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  • November 7, 2020 - 10:37am (Now Viewing)

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7 Comments
  • acrosstheuniverse28

    Woah, this is incredible! Gave me chills, and I love that last paragraph! Such an interesting and thrilling piece, great job!


    5 months ago
  • Stone of Jade

    this is like my favorite piece EVER! What the heck! How did you come up with this? It is AMAZING!! The whole tone is so perfect! I love everything about this! the dialogue is so realistic too. Especially that bit about James. AAH! It gave me chills! this is so so perfectly written!


    5 months ago
  • anemoia (#words)

    Re: thank you soooo much for your comment! i love long comments! i do have a part 2 to the bookstore thing, published on here, but it correlates to my earliest drafts. so some things/details may not align exactly anymore. i still have my longer versions on my doc, because i liked a lot of the details and they added hints for later.
    ahh, daylight! that might be one of my favorite songs off of "lover." let's see... the archer, daylight, cornelia street (underrated!), miss americana and the heartbreak prince, maybe death by a thousand cuts. and prob paper rings and london boy, too. I'M SO GLAD TO HAVE FOUND ANOTHER OLD SOUL! As Anne Shirley would say, "Kindred Spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world." I'm reading book 4 of the Anne of Green Gables series rn, and they're simply lovely.
    on running: i actually hated cross country when i was little, but only because i hadn't learned that you actually have to work hard and try. i lost every race—not completely, but i was jealous of the girls who were always winning. but in 7th grade, i ran the 400, the 4x100 (but the second girls team, so I'm 99% sure we actually came dead last every time) and the 200. 8th grade, the 400, 800, and 4x400 for finals. 9th grade... well, almost had a season, but I had hoped to run the 1600 and probably the 800. 400 KILLS me, tho, but we did a relay fundraiser before our real season against our own team (the only time we got to compete or race) and I had to do the 400. Possibly one of the hardest races, I think, that's strictly running. (obviously something like a heptathlon, decathlon, 10,000 meters is kind of its own category.) 800 is a close second, tho. i really wanted to compete in the 1600, because my goal was to be sub 6 min by the end of season, but... covid. speaking of which, i love this bubble idea! meet all these writers for real in a safe space, and if it's on the moon, then sure!
    on the house hunters international episode: it's called "Duty Calls to the Cotswolds" and it's either season 154, episode 5 (according to hgtv.com) or season 141, episode 21 (according to watch.hgtv.com) idk why it's different. but yes, romantic sighs all around as we stare at vintage tea shops (even tho i'm not a tea girl) and brilliant fall color around the thames and crumbling brick with ivy and colonial style houses and stone bridges covered in moss.
    also, there was a piece by tushar mandhan (who commented below) that gave me intense taylor vibes, called "never kiss your best friend." tushar is also a hardcore taylor fan, as you may see in the comments on that piece.
    haha, wonderland is so interesting. when i realized i'd only heard the deluxe version songs of her albums, like, once, i went on a vicious repeat on youtube. wonderland is just so addicting and intense, kind of like the relationship she describes. anyway, i love the long comments and convos and fangirling! hugs from the west coast! ;) <3


    6 months ago
  • anemoia (#words)

    This gave me chills. Seriously, this is really good. And I love the title.


    6 months ago
  • Tushar Mandhan

    that was interesting! and idk but the title reminds me of 'silence of lambs' though the stories are poles apart XD


    6 months ago
  • Rohan’s Defender

    Re: aww yes! I hear you about school and the election! But anyway, we do need to talk more! Besides writing and horseback riding and school, I’ve been potty training my puppy. XD


    6 months ago
  • Rohan’s Defender

    Re: haha, yay! Thank you, :) It’s so nice to talk to you! I’m glad you’re doing well, and I miss talking! I’m sure you have been really busy. I know I have been!


    6 months ago