Days passed into weeks and into months and the distance between Lou and Kid grew ever farther like they were on two different sides of the earth screaming at each other but neither could hear the other.
More troubling still was Lou's sadness. She ate less and less every day and never came out of her room even after the doctor said she didn't have to be in bed anymore if she agreed to take it slow.
Buck watched all of this with a great sadness in his heart. He loved both Kid and Lou and the distance between them was killing him. It seemed that Jimmy was the only one who would be able to go in and convince Lou to eat. He often would spend the evenings in Lou's room in amicable silence just being there if she should want to talk about anything but she rarely spoke a word.
One evening while Jimmy was at the Sheriff's office Buck finally approached Kid who was standing by the corral watching a gray foal dance around its mother.
"Beautiful isn't it." Buck said.
"Yeah." Kid agreed.
"How old is this one again?"
"Couple of weeks I think."
"We've almost got all the horses broke for the army."
"That's good they're supposed to get them at the end of the week." Kid said. "We're supposed to send the mother with them but I don't have the heart to send her with the new foal."
"We can find another horse to take her place. There's the bay mare."
"Yeah, she'd be a good one to send." Kid agreed. "She's got an even temperament and doesn't spook easy."
They stood for a few minutes in silence just watching the foal and it's mother.
"How's Lou doing?" Kid said quietly.
"She's losing faith, in herself and in the world. I don't know if her or the baby are going to make it when the time comes."
Kid sighed heavily.
"Kid" Buck began. "Why don't you talk to her?"
He sighed again. "I don't know. Part of me wants to go to her, to hold her in my arms, and tell her it doesn't matter. But there's another part of me that says she was unfaithful." "They raped her." Buck said quickly.
"I know, I don't know why I can't get past that. I don't know if it's the thought of another man taking Lou for his own or if it's the fact that I don't know if she'll trust me or love me again because I'm a soldier, a reminder of what happened."
"Kid, you were a man before you became a soldier and you still are a man."
"The things I did." Kid whispered.
"In a time of great stress and a time of war. Things that happen during war are very different than what happens in real life."
Kid looked at Buck.
"Men at war are just following orders. Everyone comes to understand that in one way or another. Lou's not going to care she loves you."
"There's so many things, blood of children on my hands but not by my hands." Kid choked. "Some of the men slaughtered children just because they thought they'd grow up to be soldiers for the South one day."
"Is that why you have a hard time looking at Sarah?"
"Every time I look into her eyes, I see them. I held them in my arms when they died. Their mothers and fathers were already dead. They were orphans, children, they shouldn't die alone."
"Because you have the heart of a bear. Protective and loving."
Kid looked at Buck in amazement.
"Kid, you need to go to her. She needs you, she's dying. I can see it in her eyes."
Buck put a hand on Kid's shoulder then retreated to the bunkhouse.
A tear slid down Kid's cheek.
"I want to see MAMA!" Sarah demanded for the 100th time slamming her spoon onto the tray of her high chair nearly knocking over her oatmeal.
"Sarah Mama's resting right now. I'll take you up to see her later." Buck said smiling at her. "You don't want to make Rachel cry by not eating her yummy oatmeal."
Rachel gave her a sad face playing into Buck's ruse.
"Don't qwy Wachel." Sarah said picking up her spoon.
Rachel smiled immediately which brought an equally huge smile to Sarah's face. She began to giggle.
The door opened and Kid came in carrying a small package wrapped in paper. He smiled at Sarah and tossed the package onto her tray.
"OOOOHHHH!" She cried tearing at the paper with her stubby little fingers. Kid's heart soared.
She pulled out a small doll with a blue gingham dress on. Blue was her favorite color.
"Thank you Daddy!" She cried hugging the doll close. "Can I show her to Momma?"
Rachel and Buck looked at one another, Kid saw the look pass between them. "What's going on?" He asked.
"Can you help me for a minute in the kitchen Kid?" Rachel asked.
"Sure." Kid answered looking puzzled.
When they reached the kitchen Kid looked at Rachel. "What's going on?"
"Lou spiked a fever last night."
"So?" Kid asked complacently.
"The doc said that she's getting weaker. We're going to lose her Kid."
"And that's my fault!" Kid growled. "She's the one who won't eat, she's the one who won't leave her room. I can't control what she does."
Rachel looked at him dumbstruck. "First of all Kid" She said taking her finger and putting it on his chest. "Lou was raped, they violated her body and beat the hell out of her and we almost lost her then. Now she's pregnant with a baby that reminds her of that day every single day of her life." "She could have had it taken care of." Kid muttered.
"That baby is as much a part of her as it is a part of the sick and disgusting soldiers that did that to her. If she killed it, she would be killing a part of herself."
"She still is killing herself, look at what she's doing to herself!" Kid yelled.
Rachel slapped him.
"She's doing this because the man she loved with her heart and soul turned his back on her over something she had no control over. If you weren't so stubborn and closed minded you'd see that. You're not the same Kid that I knew. That Kid would never have done that to Lou he loved her too much."
Kid didn't know what to say, Rachel had never hit anyone in her life. He turned and fled out the back door.
"Rachel?" Buck asked bursting into the kitchen. "I heard Kid yelling what's going on."
"It's fine." Rachel choked turning away from him.
"Rachel." Buck said putting his hands gently on her shoulders.
"It's fine Buck, I'm okay." Rachel said. "Where's Sarah?"
'Teaspoon took her outside when the yelling started."
"Is she all right?"
"She was a little scared, but Grampa Spoon will take care of her."
"Buck, go check on Lou, she was breathing funny this morning."
"Jimmy's up there with her."
"Rachel, are you all right?"
"I hit him, I was so angry I hit him." She said and began sobbing.
Buck pulled her into his arms. "Shh Rachel it's all right, it's going to be okay."
"No it won't" She sobbed. "What happened to Kid? Why is he being this way?"
"Things happen to a man during war. It's why I hate it so much, you see terrible things and sometimes they haunt you for a long time. Kid's got ghosts chasing him."
"It has nothing to do with Lou." Rachel said pulling away and wiping her eyes trying to be strong.
"It's not Lou, it's what happened to her. It reminds him of what he saw and it scares him."
"A baby is nothing to be afraid of." Rachel whispered.
"Tell them that." Buck said wiping away a tear that had made its way to the corner of Rachel's eye. "Neither one of them can see what's really in front of them."
"Rachel!" Jimmy yelled from upstairs. "Rachel help!"
To Be Continued