The ground was still frozen when the war started. I remember that clearly because my father had promised me he’d stay with us until the flowers came up. But we heard reports of the battles already being fought, so he had to go. My mother and I stood close together at the end of the yard as he rode away, and I tried very hard to dig my heel into the ground and could barely make a dent. The world was still deeply frozen—we weren’t even close to spring time.
The ground was muddy when the war ended. My birthday had passed twice since I’d last seen my father. My mother and I had both given up wearing skirts until the ground froze again, because there had been so much rain, that just walking to the end of the yard would twice the cloths weight in mud, and we spent more time holding our clothes on than we did getting anything done. I was covered in mud from head to toe when we heard the horses coming up the way. I barely recognized him—and I know he completely overlooked me. He rode straight to the house, threw himself off the horse, and burst through the door. By the time I made it inside, he had his hands around my mother’s waist, her hands up around his neck, holding each other so greedily that I think I would have been less embarrassed if I had walked in on them in bed together.
I headed back outside, and took care of my father’s horse. I’d wait for them to remember they already had a child—hopefully before they started to make a new one.