Manhattan, 1901

Johanna Rossman stared at her reflection, a solemn expression on her face. So what if she was beautiful? She pushed her black, shiny curls behind her shoulders and sighed. Why is it that society felt that every beautiful young woman needed to be married off early? Okay, she’s a debutante, so she is just supposed to grin and bear it? She turned her head only slightly, so the light could catch her high cheekbones and long neck. Yes, she was beautiful. But it didn’t matter to her now. She slowly began to undo her corset, her body finally feeling at ease as the strings loosened. Everything had been so perfect, and then it changed.

Thoughts of the previous events ran through her mind at a rapid pace. She saw flashes of Cordelia’s morbid expression as life slowly left her face, Genevieve’s terrified cry in the night, and Theodore’s proposal. She stared at her reflection, tears streaking down her face now, and was fully prepared for what she was about to do. She reached for her cutting shears, and although her hands were shaky, she started to cut. Long strands of shiny black curls fell around her, covering her long skirts. She didn’t stop until her hair was boyishly short. She set the shears down and picked up her quill. Before her was a piece of stationery, and she set the tip to the paper and began to write.

 

My dearest mother and father,

Forgive me for what I am about to do, but I must do what is right for me…

 

She continued to write until she was sure her parents might understand, and left it by her mirror. She stood, and gracefully turned to her bed, where a full uniform awaited her, a blue jacket sitting on top. She would have to remember to thank Robert for getting it for her. She began to take off her skirts, the last time she would ever wear them, and prepared herself for a new life. Once she was in her new uniform, she picked up her bag full of new men’s clothing and her orders.

She set out into the rain, the sound calming her. She had always loved the rain, and she knew that the heavens were crying for her. She looked forward, trudging through the mud, not bothering to look back. A ship awaited her on the other side of town, and it was there that she would begin her journey to live for one she loved. The one whose life was taken from her. The rain soaked her new soldiers uniform, and for the first time in days she smiled, excited and frightened at the new life she was about to start in the war against the Spanish.

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