“Hey boy, I’m talking to you.” A nudge accompanied the voice. Dreams of Clara faded into the ugliness of Camp Sumter.
A hollow face took shape- Bryan, an enemy but also a friend in misery. He was a confederate soldier who’d taken interest in me. We were both stuck here now.
Wooden walls blocked all light but not the cold. Gaunt, skeletal figures lined the walls. I couldn’t see them now, but knew they were there. The sick, labored breathing of those that lived were the only sounds.
“What do you want?” I rasped.
“I was asking if you believed in Jesus Christ, the Lord Almighty.”
I hadn’t been to church in some time, but I believed and said so.
“You know what today is?”
I shook my head, talking hurt my throat.
“December twenty-fifth. You probably won’t be shipped out with the rest of the prisoners, the white folk have priority, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to wish you a Merry Christmas.”
Choking out a response wasn’t easy, but it was worth it- to both of us.
“Merry Christmas to you too, Bryan.”