Late Fall 1864

Hoar frost glazed the window across the room from the iron stove. It took up a large part of the kitchen area, and was their only source of heat. Mary Ellen slept on a platform they used as a settee during the day, and it became her bed at night. Domino, her dog, woke with her and squirmed a little.

“Did you hear that boy, or was it a dream. I swear it was real. Brrr. Guess it’s time for me to tend to the stove.”

The eleven-year-old lit a lantern and wrapped her grandmother’s heavy shawl around her. Domino moved toward the warm spot she left when she got up.

“Stay there boy, I’ll be right back.”

She opened the creaky back door and stepped onto the enclosed porch her Pa had built. The fire wood was piled along one wall, and she selected five stove-length pieces, and lugged them inside. The curtain that separated her parents’ alcove drew back and her Pa tried to smooth his hair.  “You okay sweetie?”

“I’m okay Pa, just tendin’ the stove. I guess a dream woke me up; I thought sure I heard the clickety-click sound of a telegraph key. You know, just like the one that’s in the train station. Clickety-click, tappity-tap, tap-tap-tap. I thought for sure I’d heard it here in our kitchen.”TelegraphKey

“You want me to do the stove honey?”

“It’s all right Pa, I can handle it, but I’ll sure be happy when brother comes home from the war.”

“That’ll be the happiest day of our lives Sweetie. Well I’ll be, look at Domino. He’s sleeping with his mouth open.”

The sleeping dog lay with his feet straight up in the air. His lips parted with each outgoing breath, and his teeth made a chattering noise. “Clackity-clack. Clickity-click, tappity-tap.”

— Ted Atoka

8 thoughts on “Late Fall 1864

  1. Ted Atoka’s the real deal. His stories and yarns have a ring of truth you only find in those who’ve “been there.”