"Mama? Papa! Where are you?"
The child turned in all directions, searching, calling, but no one called back. The sun was setting, swiftly behind the tall pines, and a late afternoon chill signaled a cold, life-threatening December night, unless the child found shelter, soon.
Her long cotton dress, and tattered wool coat, would help, but her teeth were already chattering from cold, or maybe from fear. At this point, it didn't matter which. Both could spell her death.
Their attempted escape had begun the night before from the rural Georgia plantation; the only home the girl had ever known. That much she could remember. Then sometime, just before sunup, they'd heard the dogs. Vicious sounding, braying madly, having caught scent of fully focused prey—a family trying, desperately, to distance itself from the oncoming battle between the North and the South.
Annabelle had panicked and run in the opposite direction of the fearsome howling, believing her mother, father, and younger sister were heading in the same direction.
She was wrong.
Her voice, barely audible from strain, she stumbled through the thick undergrowth for hours, calling, "Mama? Papa? Where are you?" She slumped to the ground beside the trunk of a Georgia Pine, nestled her exhausted, frightened body into a pile of dry leaves and closed her eyes,
All books by Mary Cunningham