Married ...?! I must've misunderstood. While I was busy dyin' Anna was marrying my cousin Edmund? There was even a child now, the conception of whom I didn't even want to consider. The familiar pain in my chest flared again, the feel of that Confederate's knife twisting the truth deeper into the already damaged organ. Anna was married, and not to me.
I Stayed around the farm the better part of a month, I thought to win her back, finding time alone with her, reminding her with the heat of my kisses of promises made and broken, in a vow to someone else, our love a casualty of war. Edmund. My kid cousin, pest, who we let tag along with us, endured his endless questions and the moony way he'd look at Anna like she was a dish of Aunt Oneida's fresh peach ice cream.
When he left me to die on the battle field I chalked it up to fear and inexperience. Everyone else thought I was a goner, why wouldn't he? But now it took on a sinister tone. I watch him now with fresh eyes, the way his hand rests with ownership on Anna's back, the way he cannot meet my eye or shake my hand, the shut bedroom door, the child who should have been mine ... Had this been his plan; to get me out of the way and make Anna his own? It was improbable. It was ...
I left the day she took my ring off. As long as she was wearin' it there was hope. And then ... there was nothing. Nothing but an endless stream of tomorrows far away from the place I had always planned to turn up my toes, my loving wife and a passel of babies with babies of their own gathered round, tears and fond memories. There have always been Stokes in Cedarsville ... but they won't be mine. My future stretches out on an endless road to somewhere else. I could not stay in Cedarsville and watch my cousin live my life, with my wife.
I headed west.
There's always somewhere to hang your head and drown your sorrows.