From The Winds

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When Stacy meets Veteran’s Day re-enactor William, she knows immediately there’s something different about this man. Will her heart win out over logic?

William heard music. Bolder music than he’d ever heard
before, with more instruments playing at once. Turning
into the bright sunlight, he saw its source. A large
group of musicians played just outside the cemetery,
only a short distance from where he stood every
eleventh of November. Last year, there had been no
music, no red, white and blue flags, no cameras for
television news people. This year, he saw total
devastation of one block of homes, separate from the
rest of the town. What had happened here?

He shivered, taking a deep breath, but smelled nothing
save for a tinge of automobile smoke. It was truly
November, and though the marked areas for the dead
always chilled him, today the sheer number of grave
markers overwhelmed him. So many more than last time,
so many more fancy stones appeared every year that
William could only shake his head at the waste. Oh, he
knew that war piled dead atop dead, rapidly. But there
had been no war, as he defined the term, on this soil
for the last century.

Every year, for ten years now, William had found
himself standing in this cemetery on this holiday,
left to walk the town for several days. Each year the
townsfolk smiled at him, waved, asked for him to pose
with them for photographs, and called him a
‘re-enactor.’ Each year he learned more about the
time, and its people, but a ‘re-enactor’ he was not.

He wore Union blue because he’d served with Northern
troops. To William, it was only yesterday that he’d
helped a wounded lad find his way home, relieved as
everyone that the war was over. Knowing he’d end up
here for this mysterious annual ritual, he’d donned
the threadbare uniform this morning so he’d blend in
with the war “re-enactors” of the future.

To the men and women he saw now standing in the
cemetery, dressed in solemn clothing, that surrender
would have occurred over one hundred thirty years ago.
No, he was not a play actor, but he let them think
that. It was better than being thought insane.
Looking down, William did a quick inspection of his
dull blue trousers and faded coat, noting the familiar
burnt cuff from an argument he’d had with a lantern on
the floor of a friend’s barn.

William began to walk, tracing the line of spiked
metal fence which enclosed the stone church and its
land. Rusted in places, the fence changed only
slightly each year. Its gate still swung open with a
squeak and groan, and he pushed on it, setting it in
motion with the cold breeze.

“It needs oiling.”

William turned to find a lovely young lady watching
him. She was dressed like the other mourners he’d
observed, in dark clothing, but wore a skirt so short
that William could see most of her long, slim legs and
trim ankles.

He swallowed.

“Are you here for the Veteran’s Day parade?” She
smiled, showing straight white teeth. With one hand,
she reached down and tugged at the hem of her skirt.
William said nothing, just nodded as he always did
when confronted by these people from the future. After
the first few visits, he’d learned to be
non-committal, agreeable with their assumptions,
because that was how he’d survived these altered time

“My name’s Stacy Martin,” the woman said, moving
toward him and extending a slender hand with nicely
groomed nails.

Surprised, William took it, closing it gently between
his own, larger hands. “William Madiston, ma’am.” The
small ring she wore pressed into his palms, and her
skin felt warm next to his. William’s heart beat
faster, and he felt a tug in his chest.

This had never happened here before.

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