Peggy Mitchell watched her mother’s strong hands as they gripped the reins that guided the horse and buggy to the outer edge of the city. The horse took a familiar path and ended its journey at the foot of a burned-out and deserted home. It was a curiosity to the twelve-year-old Peggy, who always seemed to end up at a house nobody lived in. No Sunday was complete without some look into the past. As far back as she could remember Peggy had spent Sundays with her mother, listening to stories of the Civil War. But to hear the yarns her mother told, one would think the events happened yesterday.
"This is where it happened, child," the mother said, as she turned Peggy’s head to an old staircase.
Peggy looked at the staircase and saw no importance in it at all. It was a rotting pile of discarded dreams. There were no hints that human feet used these boards parallel to each other, nor were there signs of any significance that demanded Peggy’s attention.
"Where what happened?" asked the child.
Peggy looked up at her mother and saw a haunting twinkle in her eyes. Looking at the broken down, water logged staircase Peggy’s Mother was seeing phantoms that the child couldn’t understand.
"The soldier came in through those doors." Peggy’s mother pointed. At one time, the ruins contained a set of doors. "The woman who lived here lost her husband in the fire." Peggy’s mother continued in almost a whisper. "Food was hard to come by. The North took what food there was. Every now and then the woman encountered deserters, and that is what she found that day."
"Mommy, I don’t want to stay here," cried Peggy. "I don’t like it here."
"Come on then," said Mother, with a smile. "It’s home to supper for you." Both Mother and child left the burned house. Back in the buggy and heading for home, Peggy’s daughter sighed with relief. "Peggy, do you know what the Civil War was?"
"The teacher talked about it in school."
"That’s good," she smiled. "The Civil War destroyed a way of life for the South. A way of life that will never return." Mother paused. "Child, one day your world will explode under you, and God will put you to the test. A woman’s hands are small and weak, so for God’s sake, learn a trade that will stay with you. A trade you could use in your new world."
Peggy studied her mother. She didn’t understand the fear she was seeing, but her mom was worried about something; something ’grown up’.
"I will, Mommy. I promise."
Mother’s brow relaxed and she smiled down into Peggy’s puzzled eyes.