Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Forty Five

Will couldn’t stay much longer. Harley had already sent two messages. Things weren’t going well in the south, and being short his best marksman was putting a strain on operations.

It was Miguel who finally brought matters to a head, looking across the dinner table one evening and asking Will point blank when he intended to return to his unit.

Will ducked his head. “Soon.”

“How soon? Before or after one of your friends gets killed?”

“It’s not my fault they don’t have enough marksmen.”

“But it is your fault they’re expecting you back. If you hadn’t told them you were returning in September, they would’ve planned accordingly. And now here it is nearly October—”

“My wife needs me, and she comes first. Besides, September’s not over yet.”

Diana pushed the food around her plate. “You don’t need to stay here on my account.”

Will set down his fork and looked at her in exasperation. “You’re not even riding your horse yet. You’ve got no range with your arrows, and—”

“I’m doing great with my rifle and I’ll keep practicing while you’re gone. It’s not like I need any of those skills here, anyway. I can keep training on my own.”

“You said you wanted your own command,” Miguel reminded him. “A commander doesn’t let inappropriate sentiment keep him from his duties. If Diana were ill or her life in danger, no one would question your decision, but you can’t keep stringing them along. Go back and fulfill your commitment, or let me radio a message that you’ve gone soft and are quitting.”

“I’ve not gone soft.” Will pushed back his plate and stalked out of the room, leaving Miguel, Amalia, and Diana staring at each other.

Diana got up.

“Stay and finish your dinner,” Amalia said. “Let him think things over in peace.”

“I know what I’m doing. I was through eating, anyway.”

Half an hour later, Amalia and Miguel wandered toward the living room and paused in the doorway at the sound of Diana’s voice. She was saying something they couldn’t quite make out about horses, goats and corn yields.

“Don’t be silly,” Will said. “I need to go back. You and I have to put in our time and win this war so we can get good jobs afterward.”

“But don’t you think. . .”

“You don’t have to be a farmer ever again. I’m going to set you up with a house in town, so you can have nice things from the train and our kids can go to school and not have to work so hard, like we have.”

“Bridget said I might have trouble having kids.”

“We’ll adopt some."

“I think I’d rather be out on the land.”

“You’re a crazy girl, you know that?"

Amalia and Miguel waited until the conversation turned to less serious murmurings about weather and other mundane matters. When they went into the room, Diana was sitting on a cushion in front of the fire, Will lying beside her with his head in her lap. She was toying with his hair, saying something about aspen leaves. At the sound of footsteps, they both looked up. Will didn’t change position, but closed his eyes and said, “I’ll leave on Sunday.”

1 comment:

Alice Audrey said...

Man, we're seriously closing in on the end and still no resolution between them? I she still planning on running away? I hope she doesn't split without talking to him about it.