by Louise Krug
"Look at how good they had it," the brother says, this wide staircase, that stone porch. It was true, the sister agreed. They were in the captain's quarters part of the exhibit, and saw the iron bed, a porcelain water pitcher, a wool blanket that someone had arranged to look thrown. This was in the southern part of a state where the grass bleached yellow in the winter and the wind sounded like a clarinet. It was a day for a field trip, the brother said, and so they wore neon coats and chewed strawberry-banana gum and drove. They had no other options, having no holiday shopping left, their fill of blue slushies from the gas station, the TV at home occupied by a grandparent. At the Civil War site, the mess hall was wide-planked benches and coat hooks on the walls. "A bakery!" the brother laughed. They stuck their hands inside the Hansel-and-Gretel stove. One last rock hut was at the end of the trail. "Ah, this must be where all the business was done," said the sister. "The post office, records, you know." But it was the jail, and according to an instructional plaque, the soldiers had to perform punishments like stand on a barrel, bound and gagged for an entire day. "Big deal," said the brother. The sister went inside to get a better look at things. The brother heard a scream and found her jangling the iron bars of a cell door with both hands. "Look," she said. "Even these seem nice."
Louise Krug is a Ph.D. candidate in creative writing at the University of Kansas. She has been published in elimae, Juked, metazen, and Everyday Genius, among elsewhere, and has a memoir that will be published in 2012..