Four words. That was all it took to change my life forever. The day was April 24th in the year of 1775 when my father said it, and everything turned into a distant story. Something impossible but somehow true. I didn’t know it then, but it was the sentence that really started my life. I’m going to fight
“But Father!” “No, Amelia. I know it’s been hard since your mother died from scarlet fever but your brother and I have to fight in the war. The country requires us to.” “Surely you can just hide when they come pick you up? No one will search for you.” “We already signed up. And hiding is not an honorable thing to do. Do you know how many soldiers are out there fighting for freedom from England? They’re all risking their lives, and we should be doing the same. Now leave me to my packing, and stop protesting. There’s nothing you can do.” I scowled and ran out the door, tears flowing down my face as if my eyes were overfilled blue lakes, just waiting for a chance to explode. I crouched down at the side of the barn and cried, letting everything out. Nothing was fair! Why couldn’t I get a say in anything? It was always Father or my older brother William bossing me around. Amelia, do that. Amelia, do this. Amelia, stop interrupting! Amelia, go to your room! And whenever I tried to say something they would just thrust a broom or a mop in my hands and tell me to leave them be. As if they were so high up they could give everybody orders. Suddenly, a shadow fell onto me. I looked up and saw Mrs. Carpathia, my neighbor standing above me. “Amelia?” she said softly. “Go away,” I said through tears. “You’re upset about your father, aren’t you,” Mrs. Carpathia guessed. I kept my head down and didn’t say anything, although I had to gulp back a sob. “You know, Amelia,” she began, stroking back my fiery red hair. “When I was a little girl, even smaller than you, my father went to fight in the French and Indian War. I was devastated when he told me, and I cried for days on end. I’ll never forget the day when he came back a year later in a horse-drawn wagon from a wounded leg. It was horrible, with the doctors running around and blood spilling onto the filthy, roughly tied bandages. My mother crying occasionally, but she would usually just sit silently, as if in her mind the world had already ended. That everything was over. Even though I try not to show it, that scar is still in me, memory of the days of the past. But I learned to forget what happened before, and concentrate on what really matters. The present. Now-” “Well you’re lucky!” I cried, interrupting. “What if Father doesn’t come back? And William was my only friend, even if he is a pest sometimes. I’ve already lost my mother and my grandparents. I don’t want to give up anybody else!” Weeping harder than ever, I tore myself out of Mrs. Carpathia’s grasp and ran into the woods. Even as branches caught on my favorite cherry red dress and ripped the cloth, I kept going and going and going. Farther than I’ve ever gone before. When I finally stopped besides a small stream cutting through the rugged landscape, it was turning dark. My stomach ached with hunger, and my mouth was as dry as a well in the middle of summer. I gratefully crouched by the stream and carefully brought a handful of water up to my parched lips. It felt like a butterfly was dancing across them, light and graceful. Unable to resist, I dunked my whole head in, washing my tangled hair and scrubbing until I was as clean as a whistle. When I had drunk my fill and tidied up a little, the sky was turning a threatening shade of black and a cool night breeze was stirring the air. Reluctantly standing up, I stretched my stiff limbs and looked around for a good place to spend the night before I had to return to the horrible place called home. At last I decided on a tiny spot where three trees intersected, forming a little cocoon. I covered it with fresh grass and used a pile of leaves as a pillow. Barely managing to squeeze myself into the petite space, I tried to make myself as comfortable as I could with my head between my knees and my arms intertwined with my legs. Inhaling the sweet scent of fresh earth, however, gave me new hope. Perhaps everything would turn out right. Father and William would stay at home with me, and the war would be like a pesky fly outside closed windows. We would be safe and sound, enjoying life as it was.