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Prompt: Rise

Wood smoke lingers in the air, mixing with the smell of the coming snow. The year is finally drawing to a close, and I couldn't be more thankful. Never have I known such pain. Losing Pa last spring was like having a tooth pulled, the agony sharp and deep, but it was nothing like finding John's name on the lists of the dead.

My eyes trail over the furrows in the fields. It was only yesterday that Tom finished that job and left, admonishing me to spend the winter with the Upsons. Mother Upson begged me to come down the mountain with them, telling me she couldn't bear to lose another child. I refused, as they both knew I would. That's why Father Upson hung the ropes even as his wife and I disagreed. He knew I couldn't leave my home, the one I would have filled with children with John at my side. It's only appropriate that I stay in a place as empty as my heart.

Pa's grave is like a scar on the rise, the dirt fresh and clean even from this distance, even after all these months. He lies next to Ma, where he wanted to be. I'll never lie next to John. Mother Upson was told he was buried somewhere in Western New York, around Schenectady, because he couldn't be sent home in the summer heat. The chill in the air today is warm compared to how I felt on that August night when I was told he wasn't coming home, even in a pine box.

Buttercup is lowing in the barn. It's time for milking. I send up a prayer of gratitude to the Lord for the hard labor before me. When my hands are sufficiently busy my mind isn't able to dwell on what I've lost. Instead, I focus on my blessings. I have lost the men I love, but I have my land, my animals, and if we win this war, my freedom.

But, oh, what a high price I've paid. How many other wives, sweethearts and mothers will suffer as I have before this revolution is through? How often will men go to war, leaving widows and orphans behind them?

The lowing is insistent now, so I force myself out of my chair and trudge across the yard to the barn. It's time to lose myself in my labors, forget the pain in my chest and replace it with the ache in my muscles. I will not relinquish this land through lack of industry. Men I loved died for it. I will work to keep it free.

Hello all! I've been working hard at turning my one-shot, Taking Liberties, into a full-length novel. I'm in the querying (read: getting rejected) stage, but thought it would be fun to post a bit about the couple's background.

Bella is now Mary, and Edward is now Andrew, so please don't get confused. I'll be referring to them as their 'correct' name from now on. I will post the rest of these vignettes on my website, at least weekly, so please come by and follow me if you want to read more! .com. All comments are appreciated!

If I ever get accepted (and it's looking promising from one agent), I'll pull Taking Liberties. I know there are many who don't like pull-to-publish, but trust me, while the bare bones of the story is the same, the final product is much different (as in, it's now at 90K words!).