Long steady road
Oh travel, be kind
I'm searching for some peace of mind
The home that you know
A home left behind
Oh trouble, don't trouble this time.
If you've just picked up this book you're probably quite lost, but that's what you get for opening it in the middle. You might be expecting to read a glorious tale about a prince saving a princess or some other type of fairytale containing love and happiness. I've learned that those types of stories do not exist, not here in this harsh reality anyways. A few years ago I would have never imagined that I'd be running around half of Europe trying to find a horse, oh not just any horse, this was specific horse. With white socks and a white star atop his glorious head. Now how exactly did I get in to this mess? Well that's up to you, all you must do is flip to the start of this book to find out.
It was a sunny day in Devon; I had arrived just a week before the cavalry had come to the small town. My older brother was sickly and dying; he had never married and lived alone, so it only made sense that I would take the three day journey to visit him in his last few days. My family stopped acknowledging his existence after he fell into alcoholism. Every connection he had with my mother and father was cut, yet I continued to send him letters. Soon his letters came in longer spaces of time, and each time they were a little bit more distant and sad. When I received a letter written by the town doctor regarding his remaining time I immediately decided to go.
"You can't be seriously thinking that you'll be fighting in the war!" I said in disbelief to my brother, who was attempting to stand up from his chair. He was as thin as a twig and feverish, he would never even make it to the street and here he was sure that he would fight. "They've called every able bodied man of age to fight, I want to go and fight for my country! Alexa, you must understand that!" He said before collapsing back into his chair with an angry sigh. I shook my head at him, my dirty blonde hair swinging back and forth "But you're sick! You must come to understand that you can't fight!" I paced across the room and picked up his wooden cane. "I will go in your stead brother" I practiced hobbling across the room with the cane "see! I can cut my hair and fake an injury or disease, that way I'll be undetected when I go! " I said with a forced smile, attempting to convince him. "Alexa, this is not one of your fairytales, this is a war. You are but a woman, a woman is unfit to fight" He said with disbelief at me even mentioning it. I put the cane down and walked to the back of his chair, "Alright brother, I understand and I apologize for even mentioning it, I'm very sorry Kinsey" and with that I hit him hard against the back of him head, he fell forwards off the chair and landed on the ground.
"I-I've killed him! Oh dear lord what have I done!" I pushed the chair away with shaking hands and knelt down beside my brother. I picked up his right arm and slid my hand to his wrist; I found a pulse there, shallow but there. He would be waking up with quite the headache, and when he awoke I was sure to be gone, ready to fulfill what may be his last wish. To serve his country, but since he's so unfit to go I will go in his stead. I hauled him into my arms and dragged him over to the bed, and pushed him into it. I then briskly strode to his dresser and picked up a pair of scissors, looking into the mirror I took my long hair into my hands and snipped it. A long stand fell to the floor and I stared at myself, was I ready to do such a thing? Was I ready to commit such a crime? All for the sake of my mess up of an elder sibling, to fulfill his wish while he crushed me and my parents hope of a happy family with his alcohol? I took another lock of my hair into my hand and cut it off. I felt my tears hit the floor as I cut my hair; I didn't stop until I had a head of short blonde hair. I gazed at my face, was it possible to pass as a man? My face was not that of an angel, it was thin and lanky, with a slightly more masculine jaw structure than most girls my age. I nodded to myself, yes I would do. While my brother always failed to come through with his promises I would make sure to fulfill mine.
Dropping the scissors to the dresser top I grabbed a satchel and emptied the contents, I threw in my journal, a pen and some ink. I went back to my brothers' room and rifled through the closet to find something that would fit me and hide the slight curve of my body. I picked out a clean brown work shirt; some ripped up and paint splattered slacks and a cap. I ventured to the medicine cabinet for some bandages to conceal my chest. I dropped the satchel onto the counter and began getting dressed.
After I had gotten dressed I pulled out a sheet of my journal and wrote a quick note to my brother for when he would awake.
Dearest Kinsey, I apologize for that knock to your head, but I will not apologize for leaving. You'll thank me in the end; you would not last a day out there. While I'm gone be sure to watch your drinking and health, I'll send letters when possible. Don't worry about me; I can take care of myself. I'm doing this for you remember that always, I will not try and justify my actions to you any further.
Going once more into the fray, "Kinsey" (Alexa) Darwin
I folded the paper up and tucked it into his coat pocket; I cast one last glance around the room." I promise brother, I will come home" and with that I walked out of the house. I stopped on the porch and wiped my hands onto the dusty wooden railings, I smeared some of the grime onto my face and clothing to appear a bit more masculine before continuing on my way.
When I arrived in the town square there were quite a lot of young men milling about. There was a couple of tables set up which seemed to be taking names for volunteers. I made my way over to the nearest table only to be knocked aside by a couple of young men who were grinning from ear to ear as if going into the war was a picnic. I got pushed backwards and nearly fell over before regaining my balance, one of them sneered at me "watch it you little sod, make way for the REAL soldiers" I ducked my head into line behind them, eager to just get signed up. After half an hour I was finally at the front of the line, I was indeed nervous when they asked all the questions, but apparently my disguise passed, I had been enlisted.
I sighed and rested my back against a wall; we wouldn't be setting out for a few hours so I had time to spare. I eyed the crowd of people curiously; there were a couple of horses being sold. My eyes became trained on someone who was obviously high military status; he seemed to be purchasing a large fine horse from an elderly man. That is until a young boy interrupted him, I could tell that the man was selling this boys horse, he looked heartbroken. My heart went out to the boy, especially when he attempted to enlist. Yet there was nothing to be done.
A hard tap to my shoulder turned my attention to the same group of young men who cut in front of me. The one who tapped my shoulder seemed to be the leader, "so signed up to fight did ye? I doubt a little shrimp like you could last even ten seconds out there" the rest of the small group chuckled at his witty remark. I nodded "Yes" I replied curtly turning my attention back to the boy and his horse, I didn't reply to any other things they asked or said to me, I just kept my eyes trained on the crowd. They eventually got bored and left, which left me against the wall relieved and nervous.
I spotted the man from earlier in automobile; it seemed he had purchased that fine beast in the end, what a great steed it would be to ride on. We walked and we walked for what felt like forever, my feet were sure to be sore and calloused the next day, I had been at the back of our march because of my cane, I was surprised they even let me join with the "limp" I had. We were soon assigned bunks at the barracks which were cramped and stuffy, luckily there were also a couple of private bathrooms for use, which meant that hiding my gender would be a tad easier. I fell asleep with a heavy heart in my chest, and fear in my head.
And baby don't look back,
Odds don't stack
They just crumble down around you.
Oh, you gotta go away if you wanna come back
Lyrics: I won't let you go - Hedley