"You… you idiot…" The blonde boy clutched a bouquet of wild flowers between his fingers as he crouched by his friend's epitaph. "Rab! How could you?" The disheartening words echoed around the empty cemetery, only resounding for a moment after they left his pained voice. Perhaps, his question should have been rephrased as 'How couldn't he?'. Rab was going to do what he felt right. He had been born a fighter, so he died a fighter. The fearless git!
Quiet lingered for longer than he expected, but his hazardous sniffling broke the familiar silence. Leaves rustled in the background; the wind carried and threw the browns, oranges, and yellows in the air. Colors surrounded Johnny like a fire. A bright, consuming fire…
Stupid… He left so much behind. Johnny couldn't even count the things he had just abandoned so quickly. His family, his friends, a career… Everyone he loved. Everyone who loved him back more than he could imagine. Perhaps, it was just Johnny who felt the loneliest. How true he was, those many months ago when he knew that nothing would hit his numb mind until later. That day he was so dazed… so confused! Too baffled to even comprehend himself in his predicament.
Now all he wished was that he'd taken it in deeper. 'It's just a nightmare', he had thought to himself, 'Merely a figment of my imagination… He's not truly dead. I know it.' What a lie. How untruthful could he have been to himself? About something so serious…
There was only one thing for sure, though. His best friend was never coming back. His life was lost to the battlefield, only conveying to the mere taste of smoke and gunpowder as equivalent exchange. But it could've hardly been called such. It was never equivalent. It would never be. A life gone only for the luring excitement and the feeling of courageousness. And the blood… It was sickening just to have any thought of it. Johnny remembered the day he had visited Rab with Dr. Warren; seeing him so pale. There had been dark circles under his eyes, and he had grown weak so quickly… Memories of his gaunt face and the bit of red that had trickled down the corner of his mouth gave Johnny chills.
The young man cringed and placed the flowers neatly under the small plaque that had Rab's name and vague details about his short-lived life.
JANUARY 29, 1757 - APRIL 23, 1775
A LEXINGTON MINUTEMAN
A moment of observing the golden letters in solitude went by and he was soon joined. There was a swishing sound of ruffles of someone's dress and a small, but dark shadow on his back. Turning, Johnny saw none other than Cilla Lapham. As did he, Cilla had bloodshot eyes as well. She gave him a painful smile, but he only looked away, ashamed of his emotions that were flowing rapid like a waterfall, bashing against rocks and mystifying his world.
"Oh Johnny…" she began to whimper, "I… Dr. Warren assumed you'd be here, so I rode on Goblin… And here you are.."
Of course. Dr. Warren told her where he was when she came looking for him. Johnny shook his head, "I just can't believe he's gone, Cil.." his voice trailed off while he absentmindedly stroked the blades of grass beneath his body.
The girl threw her shivering arms around him in an embrace and sat down with a trembling Johnny. It had been a while since they had spent time together like they had done before. It was just a while ago … He'd ride Goblin and meet Cilla and Isannah by the town pump. Or as he did later, he'd go by the Lyte's place and visit them there. That was when he was unknowing of his true self. It was Lavinia Lyte herself that told him he was really Jonathan Lyte Tremain.
All of this was bursting like fireworks in his aching mind. The stillness of everything was killing him. He had had absorbed enough of the inglorious hush and tension in the air. Sensing this, Pricilla finally got up from where she was, dusting off her dark blue dress, and lent a hand to Johnny. He looked at it, outstretched and ready for his own to interlock with it, but he shook his head, leaving her a tad confused. Those encouraging words echoed, quietly streaming away.
"A man can stand up…"
And that's exactly what he was going to do. Johnny pushed himself off ground despite Cilla's offer, not that that the exact meaning of the words. It was something more in depth. More urging, making Johnny more confident for once. She smiled at him and he felt himself slightly redden. "Let's go home.. It's getting cold out.." He suggested quietly as Cilla nodded and rejoined him at his side.
Goblin had taken a liking to Cilla after she had visited him with apples every once in a while. After he had grown familiar with her, the two had become a close pair, just like Johnny had at an earlier time. Taking Goblin home was a smooth ride and the two enjoyed every second of it. The wind took their hair and let it fly in their faces as they galloped through the stone streets of Lexington. Of course it was cool out… very cool indeed, but the two ignored it since the ride warmed them. Horse-back riding was always exciting, so no one ever needed a coat since the excitement itself was exhilarating.
The two stopped at a house with a door containing a bronze sign in the center of the light blue painted door. It had the address of the house of the particular street they were on. The two hopped off Goblin and tied his reigns to a metal pole. Cilla stayed by the nervous horse, while Johnny knocked on the door, just to give a hello. They couldn't stay long since it was getting late out and Goblin didn't fancy it when it began to darken. The sunset was gorgeous, and looked as if someone had painted it on a canvas meticulously. Johnny s tared out at the sprayed colors for a moment as he waited for Dr. Warren to step out, having already knocked the brass knocker. His attention turned to a fairly young man with bright, clear, blue eyes and thick, blonde hair. He had just walked out of the building. "Good evening, Johnny." His gentle voice had a ring to it as he greeted the boy.
"Good evening, Dr. Warren." Johnny replied casually. He could tell that Doctor Warren was a bit busy, but wanted to spare a little of his time to relax and talk. Just the way his voice was slightly tensed, but released at the same time, he knew..
The two shook hands before the doctor stepped out onto the porch, seeing that Cilla was with Goblin. "I assume that Miss Lapham found you, then?" he smiled towards the girl whom was down at the steps. She waved to the two of them while she stroked Goblin's coat to reassure him that she was there and there was nothing to worry about, which the horse seemed to comply to.
Johnny reddened just barely, but not enough that the doctor would take notice to. He didn't really like the sound of Cil looking after him since he was a man after all. He could take care of himself without being babysat by a girl… "Yup. She found me, all right…" he muttered a bit sourly.
Doctor Warren pulled out a chair and offered Johnny a seat as he took his own. "That's good… Should I make some tea for the three of us?"
"It's alright, sir. We were going to head back soon anyways…"
Doctor Warren paused, reached for his pocket watch, and gave a sideways smile. "The last ferry left, well, will be leaving in fifteen minutes. They only let the passengers board ten minutes before they leave. I hardly believe that you'd make it to the other side of town in only five minutes, Johnny. I'm sure the landowners here would let you stay the night. Down the street, only a little ways, is a horse stable, so Goblin can stay there."
Johnny considered not taking the offer for a moment, but he then realized that he really had no other choice, but to stay overnight. His eyes wandered to Cilla whom only smiled in encouragement to accept. He gave in.
"That'd be great. Let me ride Goblin down to the stable then and I'll return in a minute."
With that, Johnny took the horse down the road, passing a few weavers in their shop still plucking at the threads over a loom and a blacksmith and his apprentices closing up their work area. The sun was getting low, and all the shops were beginning to close. Sometimes, it made Johnny remember his days during his apprenticeship with Mr. Lapham before he had died, and before his hand had been burned. Johnny looked at his hand now with a smile. It was all better now. Dr. Warren had surgically detached his thumb from his hand so it moved like it did before the incident. When it was still healing, it had grown in with the other part of his hand, making it unusable.
But that had been okay because he found people like the Lornes' and Rab Silsbee that made him feel as if it was gone. He always knew it was there, but they made him feel as if nothing happened. They made him feel normal again. He had almost everything to thank them for. The Sons of Liberty had been a great influence on him too, and if it wasn't for them, he probably wouldn't be as Patriotic about as much as he been about. Johnny remembered when he didn't even give a care about politics - when he had been so apathetic about things. It just goes to show that you can become anything with a little bit of influence.
Johnny had arrived on Goblin after a few moments of finding himself rambling about his past in his mind. Smiling to himself, the blonde led his horse into the stall and locked it up after consulting the man that owned the barn. Thankfully, he had generously accepted, just as Dr. Warren had said. After saying goodbye to the beautiful beast, he began to trot back to the residence that Cilla and Dr. Warren were still located. Whistling, he watched the sunset turn it's beautiful colors. It made him think of how wonderful a world they live in, just without the violence. Perhaps, if the war, and all the hatred people held for another vanished, the world would be utterly perfect.
But even with a perfect world, there would always be diseases that swept the countries of loved ones. For hundreds of years, this would go on, and no cure would even be found for some. Perhaps, there wasn't such a thing as a "perfect" world. Maybe the imperfection was the beauty of it… After all, every one was still living, right?
Johnny found Cilla waiting on the porch for him as he rounded the corner. Was it now, that he was finally realizing how faithful and determined she was? No… He had known that for a very long time. The girl smiled at him, and he returned it a little more sheepishly than intended. "You know, you should've gone inside, Cil. You'll get a cold."
She rolled her eyes, "Johnny Tremain caring for a girl like me?" The girl gave an lopsided smile as she stepped through the door frame, only before giving a raspy cough.
Johnny scowled, "Of course, I care!" He found his ears reddening at his statement… well, exclamation. "And that's besides the point. You just coughed then, silly girl!" he frowned.
He stopped there. It was going to be a war of words after that. He rolled his eyes. Right just then, she sounded a bit like her sister had when she was younger. Parroting every word, Cilla would say… It sometimes made Johnny wonder what that spoiled child was doing now. Obviously, she was back in London with the Lytes, probably being fondled over every minute of every day.
Johnny sighed and was greeted by Dr. Warren once more, who pointed to a comfy-looking chair that had a twin sitting besides it. The boy and girl took their seats next to one another while a young woman with dark brown hair in a long braid brought three cups of tea, each of the guests taking one with thanks.
"Thank you very much, Molly." Dr. Warren had replied coolly after taking his cup of tea. "Well, you did come here for something, didn't you Johnny? Or am I just mistaken?"
Johnny was just taking his tea off the tray with a smile, and a nod of thanks to the girl named Molly. He heard Cilla mutter a "thank you" as well. His mind was avoiding Dr. Warren's question, though… "Well, you see, Dr. Warren, I was wanting," he gulped while watching the steam hover above his tea, "to be a Minuteman…"
He saw Cilla bite her lip with his peripheral vision, as he watched Dr. Warren stir his tea and switch his feet uncomfortably, but he looked up with a hopeful smile after a moment or two of thought, "The question is: Are you ready to be one?"
Johnny nodded, "I am. I have a rifle and have had practice before. Rab and I used to practice shooting before the British caught us at one point… But I want to help, that's what I want to do." He paused for a moment as he watched Dr. Warren smile.
"You've said what you really mean. I can tell… there's that fiery determination in your eyes." he set his tea aside onto a pinewood table and clasped one hand onto the other. "All I have to say Johnny, is that your determination is what sets you apart from other men. Do what you feel is right, and you'll get where you want to be."
Johnny nodded, "Thank you, sir."
The night passed on almost dramatically slow. Cilla didn't speak to him for a while. She only said a simple, "Goodnight, Johnny Tremain" and went to her own bedroom. Was she like him at the moment? Not getting any rest? He rolled over onto his side and looked out the window with a heavy sigh. His mind was set though, he was going to become a minuteman like his best friend did. Only, he wasn't going to get shot. He promised himself to Cilla.
What we do on our own part can affect more than our own lifestyle, but one of a loved one, or perhaps someone we do not even know. What we intend on doing and don't intend on doing separates us from everyone else. If life hands you a golden apple, do you accept and play your part? Or do you decline? That's what makes everyone different from one another.
Johnny Tremain © Esther Forbes - Last Chapter ©Laurel Potts