I was just coming into myself when I met her. I never forgot her face. She made sure I never had to.
I met her in Maryland back in my young years. I still hadn't completely broken free of my so-called family yet. There was a community well over which she was bent. The girl didn't look any older than me. I still remember her long, tied-back, ash-blond hair falling over her shoulder. I didn't even try to look away. This was new.
Apparently I let it go too long.
"You want a turn?" she called, snapping me out of it. I looked into her blue eyes.
"Oh. No. I was just...admiring the view. Of the scenery," I added quickly, seeing the look on her face. "I don't get into Maryland often." Idiot, I scolded myself, feeling my face turn red. I think she smiled...but I'm not sure what was in it.
"Yeah...neither do I." But here she was, taking water from the well like she did it every day around here. No one questioned her.
"So, where do you get around, stanger?" she said, following me all the way back to where I was staying.
"Mostly Massachusetts these days. But my...brother's sort of mad at me, so I have to leave him guessing where I am for a while."
"Oh, were you part of that?" she asked, almost astonishment in her voice. "So, you align yourself with the Sons of Liberty, then?" She laughed. I put on a stupid smile and shrugged my shoulders, trying to contain my own laughter. "So," she said, so raptured by this that she set her bucket down and stopped there to face me. "How was it?"
"It was..." I remembered it like it was yesterday (okay, it was about two weeks prior. But I still remember like it was yesterday). We were all in costume. I recall the salty smell of the harbor and how heavy the crates were. How it was so dark I could barely see my hand in front of my face. How I longed to see the water turn that shade of brown (which it never did, it just sank). "Invigorating. Terrifying." I tried to think of another adjective. She wouldn't stop staring at me. "It..." Then a phrase came to mind. "It was the feeling of a new chapter."
"I see." She heaved her pail back up.
"Hey, let me take that for you."
"As a hero, I shouldn't let a young lady struggle with something like that!"
"And as a heroine, I can handle it myself." I felt like she just slapped me in the face.
"What?" I said to her back as she kept walking.
She stopped. Then set it down. Turned. Looked right into my eyes. "Oh, alright, since you need to feel important." I picked up her bucket and she started leading me to another place entirely. "So, since you know the Sons, what are the chances of me getting set up?"
"Little sister," I said, laughing, "we have more important things to do right now than think about ladyfolk."
She was not amused with my answer. "You may want to think about ladyfolk. When you win this whole arguement with Mother, you would best remember the ladies, because we do more than you men will give us credit for." She strode faster. "I wasn't looking to court, by the way. I was looking to join."
"What part of 'Sons of Liberty' is foreign to you?" She did know she was a lady, right?
"Well, I suppose that does make sense," she said, coming to a stop upon a hill.
"Do you live here?" I said, trying not to let her know her bucket was becoming heavy.
"Technically, yes. Specifically, no. But you can set it down; we'll be here a while." She looked out over the hill as though seeing past the horizon. "Perhaps I shall see if I can get the Daughters back together. We'll do the women's work while you men take care of the other men." She said it with slight distaste, but I think she believed if that was what it took, then she'd do it.
"I'll try to make sure the girls are thought of when we..." I trailed for a second before ending with "...win." I stared at the back of her tied-back hair. She had also just said "when". Most people respond with "if".
"Yes, that's what you said."
"But it's also what you said."
We stayed quiet a moment more. "You do realize we're going up against the British freaking Empire, right?" I was trying very hard to make her disagree with me.
"If it comes to that, then yes." She turned around, a spacey yet horribly serious look on her face. Her eyes shone with entertaining this thought. "Are you implying I doubt our ability to fight? That I don't believe in my countrymen? I have no doubt our boys are at least a match for those soldiers over there. If they're going to act like this to us, I want them to see just how much we can be back."
I stared at this girl. She was crazy. But she spoke exactly what I thought, which meant she was only as sane as I am.
"Who are you?" I asked her.
"Who are you?"
"Are you saying I am you and you are me?" I asked, trying not to trip over it.
"Perhaps. I don't know. As they call you a Son of Liberty, I could then be what you call a Daughter of Liberty."
"What do others call you? Normally," I said, hoping to prevent another weird analogy from this woman's mouth. She thought for a second.
"They call me Jones."
"Hey, me too." I had completely made it up, but I had thought of my everyday name prior to meeting her.
She gave me a weird look; sort of a smirk, like she was playfully scolding me with her eyebrows. "Distant relative?"
"There are a lot of Joneses on this continent and back home," I said without thinking.
"Oh...you weren't born here."
"Wait, what? Yes I was!" I yelled, trying to think of what I said to make her think that. "Oh...no, I just meant...you know, they call him 'Mother', so..."
"I see. I get it completely. I know what you meant. So, Mr. Jones," she said, turning round to look over the horizon again, at the sun setting behind the tall trees. "What do your friends call you? Surely you aren't so formal as to call yourselves by title?"
"Well, no, they call me Al."
I rolled my eyes. I hated the name I picked out. "Alfred."
"Ah, so Al. They call me Emily." She smiled delicately, as one could expect from a woman. "The sun is set. I'm afraid I have to leave you now, Mr. Al Jones." She heaved her bucket off the ground.
"May I call on you tomorrow?"
"If I'm still there, but I dare say our paths will cross again sooner or later."
"Should I carry that?"
"Are you just making excuses to not leave me?" Was I?
There was something special about a girl I could spend an entire afternoon with without first knowing her name. I definintely wanted to know more about her, this so-called Daughter of Liberty. "Sooner or later..." I don't know if sooner was near enough for me.
I caught up to her anyway. "At the very least, let me see you home. A man shouldn't let a lady walk by herself in the dark!"
"Now you are just making up excuses." I saw her smile.
I liked it.
What was I going to do when I had to walk away?
Little sister, we have more important things to do right now than think about ladyfolk.
Myself included. I had a score to settle and a feud to end. Back to Massachusetts.