April 17, 1861
I stood awkwardly beside Massachusetts’ great wooden desk, watching him frantically scribble away on a piece of paper. Finally, when I could bear the silence no longer, I spoke up.
“Massachusetts, I need to speak to you.”
“Virginia!” Massachusetts exclaimed. “You do not know how pleased I am to see you, really!” Though his smile was bright, the lines around his eyes and mouth betrayed his true state of worry. “Seven Southern states have seceded, and they give no indication of a desire to return to the Union!”
“You surely cannot blame them,” I said, “after Fort Sumter.”
Massachusetts looked at me, surprised. “Have you forgotten who started the violence at Fort Sumter? It was South Carolina, not the Union!”
“The Union held no claim to Fort Sumter. It was on Confederate property, and thus belonged to the Confederates.”
Massachusetts’ eyebrows began to dip into a frown. “Virginia, what are you saying? Do you honestly believe these rebel states are their own country?”
“I see no reason why they should not be,” I said. “Massachusetts… I do not condone a war between the states.”
Massachusetts sighed in relief. “For a single moment, I honestly believed you-”
“However,” I interrupted, hating the effect I knew my next words would have, “I also firmly believe that states, when oppressed, have a right to secede.” Gently, I placed a hand on his shoulder. “I-I am sorry, but I cannot take up arms against my sister states.”
“What are you saying?” Massachusetts asked, his frown deepening. “Are you truly saying that you-”
“As of today – April 17, 1861 – the state of Virginia is no longer part of the Union.”
Massachusetts gaped at me for a moment, his expression equal parts angry and confused. “You- you… what?”
“I seceded,” I said calmly – or rather, with the appearance of calmness, for inside I was roiling with guilt and defensiveness.
“You- Virginia, no! You cannot do that!”
“And yet, Massachusetts,” I said quietly, “I have already done so.”
I stared at Massachusetts in disbelief, cradling my stinging face. “You- you slapped me!”
“How dare you,” Massachusetts hissed. “How dare you upstart Southern states disrupt our Union in this manner!”
“How dare you Northerners crush our rights under your feet!” I shot back. The guilt I had been feeling had completely vanished, to be replaced by blind rage. “As of now, Virginia shall become the eighth state in the Confederacy!”
“There is no such country,” Massachusetts spat, eyes bulging with fury, “as the Confederacy!”
“Deny it if you will,” I said, turning to leave. “It is growing even as you speak.”
“The Union will make sure your little experiment does not succeed!”
“Of course. I presume you’ll be using force? It seems to be the only method of persuasion you Northerners understand.”
“Leave!” Massachusetts roared. “Get out!”
“Very well,” I said. “I am going to inform South Carolina of this happy addition to the Confederacy.”
The only response I received was a grunt and the scrape of a chair turning around. As I shut the door behind me, ignoring the brief twinge of guilt that shot through my stomach, I heard an unmistakeable sound coming from the great desk.
The sound of frustrated, broken sobbing.