You are living in Atlanta in 1864. Atlanta is burning. What do you do?

In a weird way, Atlanta has never looked so beautiful, especially from the top of a Southern pine. The warm glow glistens off of everything as the night sky fills with embers of a city lost. The school house past the baptist church is gone; so is the general store and the park where Bobby Jones kissed me after school. All of that stuff was actually gone long before tonight. The confederate army took over just about every nook and cranny of this city when the northerners made a move for Georgia.

I guess tonight is the night – Atlanta’s final bow as the pride of the south. In looking down at the fire and ash, I know that there are fathers and sons and brothers and best friends that will never see us or Georgia again. Mr. Hurley from down the road is down there, Nella Green’s older brother and the newsboy.. and Bobby Jones.. they’ll never see Atlanta look like Atlanta again.

Mama says we’re never coming back to Atlanta. All of the mothers and daughters are high above the town watching our loved ones fall, watching the north claim what isn’t theirs to take, watching our home burn. Daddy said our orders were to climb as high as the mountains could take us and never turn back.

We have to see what is happening; we have to know it is all real. As embers continue to rain in the dark sky, the northerners are moving fast, and without saying so, the mothers agree it is time to go. I step to the edge of the long branch of the Southern pine, blow a final kiss to Fulton County and our families below, and reach for mama’s hand as she hurries everyone swiftly from branch to branch, making our way through the thick woods in hopes of reaching safe Carolina.


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