Authors: Kelly Martin
A Heartless Novella
by Kelly Martin
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.
Copyright © 2016 KELLY MARTIN
Cover Art by P.S. Cover Design
Friday, May 3, 1861
Y BROTHER IS GOING TO KILL ME.
Kill me or laugh at me—or something.
If he ever finds this book… this… Heavens I don't want to say journal. However, I suppose that’s what it is.
A book where I can write down my thoughts.
I'm sure not able to, nor have the capacity to, do it in life. In real life.
And if mother ever sees this… I shudder to think what she would do to me. This is my father's father's journal. I found it here last week in an old trunk shoved back in the loft of the barn. I find things to do so I don't have to go inside the house. I have my reasons. I suppose this is a safe place to share those reasons or talk about why. No one else is going to come up here and read it, but I know my feelings. So, why should I write them down?
Because my grandfather did.
Because I want to be in the house as little as possible.
Because I need to talk to someone.
Because there is something in me that I can't explain.
Something… I don't know. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe I'm just being a baby and thinking too much about it. I don't know…
Maybe this is all too dumb to write down.
I can feel it sometimes. Mainly when I’m angry, which is a lot of the time actually. Perhaps it’s because I’ll never live up to my brother in my mother's eyes. Perhaps it’s because she never wanted me Lucien could do no wrong. I could do no right. I touched her damn book with the weird symbols on it when I was three and couldn't sit for a week.
And she never wanted me. Yes, she told me that for the first time when I was eight and embarrassed her by getting into a fight at church.
To be fair, Laurence Baker had it coming. He called my brother a name. Nobody picks on my brother but me.
I didn't tell Mother that. Lucien asked me not to.
Mother didn't think I had any reason to break ten-year-old Laurence's nose.
Thing is, Lucien didn't even stand up for me when it was his fault—well, sort of his fault. He just stood by while Mother broke the broom over my back. He told me later he was sorry. He thanked me while he put some cooling pieces of wet cloth on my back. Sometimes I think he's more scared of our mother than I am, which makes no sense since he's the oldest and the favorite.
He promised he'd never let her hurt me again.
So far, he's kept his promise.
She's hit me since, but never like that. Mostly it's just words. Looks. The way she dotes on Lucien more. I don't even know if I can explain it. I just know that if Lucien and I were both drowning, I might as well just let go and drown because she's not helping me, especially not over Lucien. She calls him her angel.
I guess I know what that makes me.
Anyway, I don't want to write about the past. I don't even want to think about it. The past can't be changed. I can only look forward to the future.
The scary, scary future.
The war is going on around us. There’s talk that Tennessee will join the CSA.
I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Am I ready to go to war? Would I join the war? If so, which side?
The news around here is grim, but we must continue to live our lives. We have no choice in the matter.
My brother seems to smile more now, though. Well for the past few days anyway. Lucien has a big heart, mostly, and a big dumb smile. But something had him down the past few weeks. I asked him what, but he refused to answer. Not refused exactly, but he changed the subject.
Lately, though, he's seems lighter. Today, I caught him sniffing a flower.
With an idiotic grin.
It was… I was going to say strange, but it was actually pretty nice.
Whatever is going on with Lucien, I hope the same will happen to me soon.
Not that I want to stop and sniff flowers.
I'm not that desperate.
Saturday, May 4, 1861
WO DAYS IN A ROW.
I'm surprised I even picked this up again. I figured I'd write some idiotic drivel and then forget about it.
But here I am. Sitting with a lantern in the loft, writing away.
Like a loser.
I've decided Lucien will never read this, though, since it’s logged in the back of our grandfather's. They weren't close like we were. Well as close as I am with anybody.
My brother, my grandfather, and my father. I guess those are the only people I've ever been close to. And my grandfather is dead now. My father has been acting differently lately. I'm not positive why. Perhaps he now sees my mother for what she is, but it’s too late to do anything about it.
My mother is still young and beautiful. Fiery red hair with an attitude to match. She has aged much better than my father, who looks twice her age, even though he’s a few months younger than she is.
It’s strange, to say the least. The only thing that makes sense is that the war has aged Father more than Mother. It must be difficult with sons of fighting age. Since Tennessee hasn't joined the Confederates (though I feel it will happen soon), neither my brother nor I have joined. Only one boy I know, Thomas Buck, has joined for the South. He met with them in Virginia, or so I hear. His mother paces the floor of the mercantile. His father asks us when we will enlist ourselves.
Truth be told, I'm not sure I want to enlist. Or if I do, which side to fight for.
I have plans, big plans, for my life, and dying on some battlefield isn't one of them. I want to get away from Prospect. Maybe go to Nashville. Make my way in the world. I would love for Lucien to come with me. Might be nice to do something successful with my big brother. I don't see him leaving our mother, though. He’s a Mama's boy for some reason. Even if she does frighten him. Her favorite son.
I'm not sure why or what I've done to make her hate me, but it is what it is. As long as it doesn't make my brother hate me, I can manage it. He's all I have. The only person who’s ever in my corner. More so now after the church fight eleven years ago.
If I ever wanted someone to cover my back, it's my brother.
I hear him coming up the path. It’s past dark, and he left the house hours ago to go to the mercantile for Mother.
I haven't gone in a few days. Mother has me busy weeding and other things of no consequence.
All right, this is odd. Even for him.
He's been sniffing flowers and whatever for the past few days.
Now… he's singing.
My brother is singing.
Surely he isn't sweet on someone. He hasn't been sweet on anyone since, well, I can't even remember when.
Lucien is the quiet type, which is irksome at times. I don't like to brag. Wait, yes I do. I've courted my share of girls. I've kissed and, well, other things. I don't even think my brother has held anyone's hand. Ever.
I don't know what he's so nervous about.
And now he's singing and sneaking back home at all hours of the night.
I'll let him sneak. I won't tell him I saw him. I can't. Then he'd know that I hide up here sometimes. And he'd come sneaking around and find this journal.
We can't have that.
I think that's enough for tonight. I may never pick this back up. Who knows? Maybe if I have something else to say or if I get bored.
Yeah, I'll never write in this again.
Tuesday, May 7, 1861
Look, I'm not going to get all sappy in this journal. And I'm not going to pour my heart out or anything.
I met a girl. A girl like every other girl I've ever met.
I don't know why I'm lying. What good does it do to lie in here? Lying to myself. Such a dumb thing to do.
Colleen is… well, maybe I should start at the beginning.
I actually went into town today. Mother didn't send me, and I'm not sure she ever noticed I was gone. It doesn't matter either way. I've given up on my mother caring about me. I am a nineteen-year-old man. A man. I do not need my mother's approval or her love.
Love makes a person weak.
Lust. Now lust is another story.
Lust is an emotion, a feeling, I’m all right with.
I've seen all the girls in town. I mean seen them, not seen them without clothes. Not all of them anyway. I've kissed most of them, all but Catherine Marlor. That cold cow. Catherine and Bonnie King. Bonnie is Thomas's girl and has been since they were eight.
I might be a cad, but I’m not evil. I'd never take someone's girl. I'm better than that. And I like Thomas. I would have offered to look after Bonnie while he's fighting, but I was worried he'd take my offer the wrong way.
I’ve learned people take things the wrong way most of the time. Even from an innocent bystander like me. Though I have to admit, Bonnie's lips are very soft looking and plump and beautiful.
I met Colleen today at the mercantile. She's new to town. Truthfully, I had no idea there was even a Colleen in the world.
Turns out, I was wrong.
I don't know where she came from or why she's here. The fact is… she's here.
And she's beautiful.
I snuck into town because I was bored and needed to get out. There are times I just can't stand it. I need to get away from home. Away from Mother. Away from life.
I keep a little stash of money hidden so I can buy something just for me when I go to town. No one knows about my money. My mother would force me to give it up for the good of the family if she knew. What she really means is the good of her.
I do odd jobs in town now and then and keep the money hidden. No one ever tells Mother. I think they like her even less than I do, if that's possible.
I seem to be putting off talking about Colleen. I shouldn't be; it’s not like she's anything special. I'm not some swooning person like my brother.
Colleen—if I have to describe her—is beautiful. Dark hair. Short and curvy. Gorgeous eyes. Just beautiful.
I'm not good with words. That's why I'm not a writer.
I walked into the store unsure what I wanted to buy. I thought about buying a book. Thought about candy. But I wasn't really sure what I wanted. The point wasn't to buy something. The point was to buy something behind Mother's back. If my mother is going to hate me, I might as well give her a reason.
I'd buy a bar of lavender soap for all I care, if it would tick her off.
I walk over to the book section, which maybe has two books total. Not many people in town can read or care to read. I like to read. It’s a nice and easy way to escape home. I hate home as much as home hates me.
I picked up one of the books, brown like all the others. Though it isn't the cover I’m interested in. It’s the world inside that matters.
Then I saw her.
She stood at the bottom of the steps and looked at me with a mix of amusement and confusion.
I could tell she wasn't from around here. I’d sure never seen her before, and I know I would’ve remembered her.
Normally, I don't notice what someone wears. Colleen, though, I can't forget it. It was a light purple dress. Beautiful. I can't remember anyone wearing such a color during an ordinary, mundane day.
Don't suppose today was an ordinary day.
I stared at her. The book in my hand felt heavy, so heavy in fact that my fingers gave way and the book fell down with its companion with a thud. I instantly pulled my hat off my head and held it in my hands. I hate to admit that my palms became sweaty.