by Laura Hamby
Hannah Mary Kelsey stood at her window, careful to stay hidden behind the curtain. She stared at the man who'd just crashed to his knees, then over to the left. How he managed to find the one and only sunbeam poking through the clouds overhead, she didn't know, but a sunny, surreal haze surrounded him.
She couldn't tell from this distance if his eyes were open, but she had the creepy sensation that he watched the house. That he somehow knew she was in there. Looking at him.
A dark stain spread across his shoulder and down his right sleeve. The man didn't move.
Neither did Hannah. God help her, what if this man was a Yankee? It didn't matter to her if he was, but it would matter to her neighbors, and she had a rocky enough patch of land to tend as it was, without borrowing more trouble. It seemed to Hannah that Virginia had absorbed an ocean of Confederate and Yankee blood over the past few years. It had to end somewhere.
Her father's hound whined at the door. He wanted out. "Hush, Esau. It's just a wounded soldier."
Esau's tail thumped against the floor, accompanied by a deep growl. The dog sounded hoarse, and little wonder. He'd done nothing but bark all night long. The hair-raising sound kept the intruders away from her place, earning the dog his rightful place in heaven for protecting her from a neighbor determined to make her his wife, willing or not.
Hannah scanned the trees that encircled the small clearing around her home. No movement. No sound. A welcome silence after hours of rude voices raised in shouts, the report of guns, the sound of horses pounding the earth beneath their hooves.
The man hadn't moved in over five minutes. His weapon lay under him at an awkward angle, obviously no use to him if he wanted to move with any speed. Still, Hannah kept her rifle with her when she ventured outside.