[ Written for the NPR 3 Minute Fiction writing contest that dictated length , topic etc ]
April 30, 1789 11pm
The war had been brutal, as all wars are. So very costly in both life and coin. Now that all is spent and the accounts settled I wonder why the world had seemed so opposed to it and to us in the beginning. A crucial few lent their support to our cause in word and in purse and without these “mercenaries” our future was cloudy at best. I suppose I should view them in a more pure light. But I am bone-tired beyond that thought.
What a day of joyful pomp and endless circumstance this was- the floor feels so good to my bootless feet. The world’s eyes will be sharp on me the morrow, the new President of these now United States. I am not sure I yet grasp the totality of the word. One hundred years hence, how will this new republic and I be marked?
The soldier’s life is all I have known for so long; following, drilling, parry and advance up and then to lead and build these far flung colonial men of town and farm on to reckoning – God be thanked they had the will of iron that was asked of them. Now that all is ended, was the path we chose correct? Or are we merely mutineers that betrayed our country? Can I lead in this new role as well as in battle? I so pray I can.
What I would give for the easy decisions of Valley Forge. To advance, retreat, bend or strike with calculation. Such strategy was black and white and so easily seen even at dusk. This after-glow of war is indeed heavy mud upon my boots. Perhaps old Ben is right; the good of man in dark times outshines the heart of he in the best of times. The uncured bonds that hold our fragile dream together have not yet fully set and could so easily unravel tomorrow. To be overrun by the King’s best again, or our remains had for dinner by the generous smiling French? The wolves are many and live within as well outside our borders.
George old boy, we are in store for a ride on this wild and beautiful stallion that has never been saddled. As well the path is sure to be lined with many a low branch and gopher hole. I’ll wager more than a few apples are to be hurled by the random hidden scoundrel from either side of the road.
Again my thoughts are troubled by this weighty new title “President”, a word both vexing to me and prideful all in one breath. Will our plans for the whole of our people work in stride and detail for the cobbler as well the statesman? Oh, if our aim is but miscalculated by three degrees, our target should be missed and our goals but folly. I fear those brave fallen souls of this war will surely come back and drag me straight to hell itself for that fault.