Robert reckoned that the man sitting across from him on the train couldn’t imagine anything worse than The Battle of the Wilderness. He allowed as how he’d fought in the Wilderness, then, feigning sleep, closed his eyes on the questions, tried to close his mind to the answers, tried to bring his thoughts to the family farm, to his apple trees, to finally returning home.
But even now, on the train that chugged steadily north to Montpelier, his thoughts went, as was their habit, back to when he had worked in the field hospitals. There were indeed horrors greater even than those of battle; sights and sounds and smells that Robert sorely wished to forget. Robert wished to forget putrid air thick with the smell of filth and gangrene, ringing with the sounds of delirious men screaming and moaning; wished to forget gathering amputated limbs from the dirty blood soaked floor where they fell, stacking them like cordwood on the wagons or just chucking them in a pile outside the makeshift hospital.
Robert forgot how he’d left Vermont with his regiment four years back with a notion of returning as a man, a hero, for now he just wanted to run to his ma and his pa like a little boy waking from a terrible nightmare, in need of comfort.
The prompt word for Six Sentence Stories this week is “habit”. Thank you Denise from girlieontheedge for the prompt. Go to the link up to participate or read other responses. My entry this week features a character seen before in Seeing the Elephant and in Scion.