And do we have to walk like this? I can make it there just fine without your help.”
“I know” he said with a chuckle. They had made their way to the back and were about to cross the field when Barouk shouted after them.
“Don’t walk across the field! You’ll leave tracks in the rows.”
Drake stopped short and looked down. Realization hit as he said “Oooh, right Dad.” Then turned to go around them, half dragging Martin as he went.
“Will you let me go?”
“Nah”, and chuckled some more.
Martin half resigned himself to this treatment as a plan began to form in his head. He needed to wait for the soldiers to appear before he could make his move, but not give away his intent before then.
“Look Martin, we’re almost there.”
Martin looked and saw the woods looming closer and closer. “Are we going to the clearing? We can start a fire to keep warm.”
“Stupid!” said Drake as he clubbed him on the head with a balled fist. “That’ll give us away.”
“Ow, okay, fine. Just let me go!” And with a hard push he managed to free himself from his brother’s grip. He slowed to rub his neck from the ache of his grip. Drake seeing this grabbed his arm and hurried him along.
“Don’t stop until we’re in the forest. What are you, stupid?” His grip was strong and he seemed to want to squeeze the life out of it.
“Ow, stop it. I’m coming!” Martin’s complaint did nothing to lessen the grip until they entered the woods. Only then did Drake let him go.
“C’mon, we’ll hide by the stream.” Drake took he lead and Martin followed slowly, looking back to the road to see if he could see any sign of visitors. Drake noticed him lagging and turned to grab him once again.
“What are you doing, c’mon!” He reached for Martin who darted back, not willing to be grabbed again.
“Hey, don’t you want to see them?”
“The soldiers. When was the last time you saw a soldier?”
“Uhh,…” Drake turned his head to think on it, then shook it. “I don’t want to see no soldier. Now let’s go!” He tried to grab Martin again but while Drake had strength, Martin had speed, and was able to dodge him once again.
“Look” he said, “maybe you don’t want to see them but I do. Don’t worry, I won’t be caught. And I’ll come get you when they’re gone.”
Drake looked at him for a moment then shrugged. “Fine, do what you want.” He turned to head for the stream. “And don’t get caught.” He walked away, but not before adding “And if you do get caught, don’t tell them where I am.” A few more steps and he was lost in the trees, leaving Martin alone.
It was then that Martin realized that would be the last time he saw his brother. He was a bully, and a bit selfish, but he loved him anyway. And as weird as it sounds he would miss the punches.
This thought made him pause. Now he was beginning to realize that he would miss his mother, his father, and his two younger siblings, Emma and John. He would miss the house and the fields and the two draft horses. Perhaps he shouldn’t do this, just follow Drake to the stream. He knew his father would be disappointed in him if he did this, and Mom would bawl her eyes out. He looked back to the house, now in the distance, and saw his home with new eyes. He was trying to see something he missed while he was alive and living here. He saw everything where it was supposed to be, every row in the field, every board on the house, the ploughs, the horses. The only thing different was now his father and mother were working the field. Dad moving his plough quickly with an expert hand, Mom trudging along slowly. He had to laugh at that. He didn’t think he ever saw her working the field, and it showed in her walk.
Was this the right thing to do? he thought. He wasn’t exactly leaving them short-handed, but he was leaving them. Would they miss him? Would he get a chance to visit? Would they be mad at him? So many thoughts and feelings rose to the surface, feelings of misgivings, mixed in with fear of what awaited him, and fear of his parents reactions. Fear of what would happen next. What would it be like, being a soldier? What would he have to do? Could he do it? Would he get kicked out? How long would he be in?
And as these questions began to rock his insides, he noticed a small noise coming from the far end of the road. A sort of jangling noise mixed in with horse’s hooves. He couldn’t see what was coming from his vantage point, but he knew. The soldiers were arriving.