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She stood up again, carefully shut the trunk. She gazed at the profile of the man on the bed, and took a jagged breath that in the cold air of the room sounded like a branch against glass. Then she opened the door to the gray yellow morning and went outside.
Pat Carr uses an interesting idea in her short story “Diary of a Union Soldier”. Set during the American Civil War, a woman compares her marriage to a Confederate soldier who is away from their Kentucky home fighting to what she imagines a marriage would be like to the unconscious wounded Union soldier lying in her bed. Most of her imaginary marriage comes from reading the diary that the woman found with the Union soldier’s things. And it comes as no surprise that the marriage she can’t have appears better than the one she has.
The excerpts from the diary that Carr includes in the story prove the Union soldier is articulate – perhaps more so than the woman’s husband. The Union soldier also seems observant of his surroundings. Other than that; however, the diary doesn’t give much detail about the soldier’s background or personality. This comes from the woman’s imagination. She takes considerable note of the handsomeness of the soldier. Also, something that might be different from her husband.
While maybe not one of my favorite stories, it’s one worth reading and one I would recommend.
I read “Diary of a Union Soldier” when I selected the Four of Diamonds for Week 43 of my Deal Me In 2018 short story project. It’s included in my copy of Home and Beyond: An Anthology of Kentucky Short Stories edited by Morris Allen Grubbs. My Deal Me In list can be found here. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.