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First Love Never Dies

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Soldiers commonly bathed in groups, sharing the caustic soap that was in short supply, so no one questioned it when Alexander and John left camp and headed for the edge of the river. They washed their uniforms and small clothes, scrubbing them to remove the bloody evidence of war, and left them on the rocks to dry. Then, out of sight of the other soldiers, they bathed together in the cool water, floating lazily past one another, moving to the shore only when they began to prune. They relaxed in the warm sun and discussed their plans for after the war.

“We have fought side by side to make America free; let us hand in hand struggle to make her happy.” Alexander took John’s hand to emphasize his desire for them to be together, both in their congressional efforts and in life. He moved closer and pressed their lips together.

The click of a light being turned off broke the spell. Alexander opened his eyes and took in the darkness, so different than the sun shining across the water in his dream. He watched his dear wife, Eliza, extinguish the gas lamp on the edge of his desk and raised his head from Henry Laurens’ letter informing him of John’s death at Combahee. He had fallen asleep in his study again, dreaming of John and the life they had been denied.

He rose from his chair and kissed her. “I love you.” Eliza smiled. He loved her just as much.