Texas Secedes

April, 2013

“I have an announcement,” Texas said.

“So does his desk,” muttered Connecticut. “It’s saying, Get this guy off of me, before I collapse!”

I had to admit that Connecticut had a point. Texas’ desk, on which he was standing, was emitting some rather loud creaks, and its legs were looking a little more bowed than ordinary.

“Hush, y’all,” Louisiana said. “I wanna hear this.”

“After much deliberation,” Texas said, “I have decided to- ow!”

“You’ve decided to ‘ow’?” Georgia asked confusedly.

“Maybe it’s a code word,” South Carolina offered. “Like, maybe, what he really means is – ‘I have decided to take tap-dancing classes’?”

“That,” Georgia said slowly, “is the stupidest idea I have ever heard. Why would a state need to tap-dance?”

South Carolina shrugged. “Why not?”

“Actually,” I said, “I think he said ‘ow’ because his desk just collapsed on top of him.”

“Oh, yeah,” South Carolina said thoughtfully. “It could be that, too.”

Texas raised an arm from under the pile of splintered wood in the center of the room, and waved. “I’m okay!” he said, hauling himself up. “Dang desk… anyway, as I was saying – after much deliberation… I have decided to secede from the Union.”

Silence fell over the room. Vermont and North Carolina stopped pinching each other. Oklahoma and New Mexico stared at Texas, identical expressions of amazement on their faces. Massachusetts’ mouth was hanging open, his eyes bulging and his face slack with shock. I would have laughed if I hadn’t felt the exact same way.

The still was only broken when Mississippi squeaked loudly and fell off his chair. Alabama, who had been holding his hand tightly, emitted a similar squeak and followed him to the floor. 

Massachusetts finally found his voice. “You’re doing what?”

“Seceding,” Texas said.

South Carolina shrugged. “Big deal. I’ve done it too, you know.”

“Yeah,” North Carolina said bitterly. “And then the Civil War happened.”

South Carolina’s smile instantly dropped off her face. “Oh. I, um, forgot about that.”

“Let’s not get off topic,” Louisiana said. “I just found out my neighbor’s seceding from the country. Can we discuss this, please?”

“Yes, let’s,” Massachusetts said, frowning. “Secession is unconstitutional. It’s illegal. We’ve been telling you that since 1845.”

“Well, I dispute that!” Texas yelled.

“And I dispute your dispution!” Massachusetts yelled back.

I was pretty sure ‘dispution’ wasn’t a word, but Massachusetts’ face looked dangerously close to exploding, and I didn’t really want to push him over the edge.

Now Vermont joined in, his expression identical to Massachusetts’. “You can’t secede!”

“Oh yes I can!” Texas said, his hands curling into fists. “I don’t have to listen to you!”

“Oh yes you do!

“Says who?

I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand their bickering one moment longer. “Wait!” I yelled. Texas, Massachusetts and Vermont all froze.

“Why?” I asked.

“Why what?” Vermont snapped.

Why does Texas want to secede?”

“Who cares why I want to?” Texas asked.

“Because,” I said, “if we know the problem, maybe we can fix it so you won’t have to secede.”

There was a general murmur of assent, and everyone’s eyes fixed on a very flustered Texas.

“It doesn’t matter!” he said, reddening. “The point is, I’m seceding, and you can’t do anything about it.”

“You need a reason to secede,” Georgia pointed out, not unreasonably.

“No I don’t!” Texas shot back. “I just want to, that’s all! And I can!”

I sighed. Today’s meeting was going to be a very long one.  I had planned on sorting through some papers when I got back, but noooo

“Oh no you can’t,” Vermont said.

“Oh yes I can,” Texas replied – and with that, we were officially back to Square Zero.

Then Vermont punched Texas, and we slid back to Square Negative-One.

“Oh Lord,” Georgia whispered. “This is bad. This is very, very bad.”

“You can say that again,” North Carolina said, joining us. “If it gets any worse, we’re gonna have to refight the Civil War – and no one wants that.”

I nodded – and suddenly a flash of inspiration hit me. “That’s it,” I said slowly. “That’s it! No one wants the Civil War!”

Georgia raised an eyebrow. “What…?” Before she could say anything more, I did something that, looking back on it, could only be considered suicidal.

I leapt right in between Vermont and Texas.

“Dammit, Virginia! Get out of the way!”

“Unless you’re here to help me, you better skedaddle-”

“Shut up,” I said, cutting them off. “Look. Remember what happened last time someone tried to secede?”

Both fell silent as memories were dredged up – memories of blood-soaked clothes, whistling bullets and screams of agony. Smoke, fire, death… I couldn’t help but wince myself. Most of the fighting had taken place in Virginia, and – though a hundred and fifty years had passed since the weapons were laid down – the memories were still raw.

“I remember,” Vermont said quietly, and Texas nodded. Around us, I heard other states who’d been present – Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio – mumble their agreement.

“Do we really want that to happen again?” I asked. A flurry of ‘No’s’ greeted my question.

“But with the way things are going right now, it might,” Georgia said. “Y’all need to make up with each other. Texas, honey, if you can’t think of a good reason to secede, then don’t secede.”

“Be a sport, Texas!” Missouri called.

“Chill!” California added.

Texas bit his lip and stared around the room. “I- well- fine. Fine. Maybe I won’t secede right now.”

“Or ever,” Vermont added.

“Vermont,” North Carolina hissed. “Don’t push it.”

“I won’t push it if he won’t push it,” Vermont replied, sounding like a five-year-old negotiating for Lego box rights. Texas replied with a rather colorful statement that I’d rather not repeat here.

But despite all of that, I couldn’t help feeling happy. It was a beautiful, warm evening, and the meeting had been concluded without the Union breaking up.

Maybe I might even have time to sort out those papers.

Secession Really Really Sucks

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.”

Crack.

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.

Political Debate = Fruit Fight

November, 2004

The sun was shining, the sky was a vivid, clear azure, and the grass was green and touched with fresh dew. It would have been a perfect day, if only Vermont wasn’t repeatedly whacking my head with the latest election results.

“Dammit, Virginia, I thought you were smart!” Whack.

Ow! Stop that!”

“Not until you tell me why,” Vermont said through gritted teeth, “your stupid, stupid citizens voted conservative AGAIN!”

“There’s nothing wrong with being conservative!” I yelled back, shielding my face from an especially vicious blow. “It just means that-”

“Your citizens don’t like change,” Vermont said. “If they had it their way, they’d be living in the eighteen thirties, wouldn’t they? Or better yet, the eighteenth century.”

“Of course it doesn’t!”

“Then why,” Vermont asked, “are you wearing a shirt with a quote from The Declaration of Independence?”

I flushed crimson. “The Declaration is timeless! And you’re getting off-topic, anyway.”

“You’re right,” Vermont said thoughtfully, before going back to hitting me.

“Why do you hate conservatism so much?” I gasped.

“It’s backwards!” Vermont cried. “A backwards, ignorant philosophy!”

“What’s a backwards, ignorant philosophy?” Georgia had entered the room, swinging her usual basket of peaches and quirking an eyebrow at Vermont.

Conservatism!” Vermont spat, stabbing a finger at Georgia. “You’re stuck in the nineteenth century, all of you!”

Splat.

I stared, half amused and half horrified, at the large splat of sugary yellow juice that was currently dripping down Vermont’s forehead. Georgia, eyes flashing, hefted another ripe peach into her palm and drew her arm back.

“Say that again,” she hissed. “I dare you to say that again!”

Vermont’s face was burning red. “You- you threw a fruit at me!” he spluttered incredulously.

Georgia nodded. “And I’m about to throw another one, darling,” she said. “Unless you take that back.”

“Take what back? That you’re all backwards idiots? Yeah, right.”

Splat.

Vermont growled and started fishing around in his pocket. “Okay, I don’t usually pick fights with girls… but you are so on!”

“Dudes, a fruit fight? Awesome!”

I groaned. As if Vermont and Georgia weren’t acting childish enough. Now California, the six-foot-one three-year-old, had to walk in.

“This is not a fruit fight,” Vermont said stiffly. “This is an exchange of political opinions.”

California blinked. “Is that why you have smashed peaches in your hair?”

Not the point!” Vermont snapped. “California, we have to convince these idiots that they have to vote liberal!”

California shook his head sagely. “Georgia. Virginia. Conservatism is not cool, man. Hey, can I throw fruit now?”

Vermont heaved a dramatic sigh. “California… for the last time, THIS IS NOT A FRUIT FIGH-

He was interrupted by a flying peach, which caught him straight in the nose, causing California to dissolve into snickers. Until he, too, received a face-ful of fruit juice.

“Sorry, guys,” Georgia said sweetly. “But I really don’t appreciate you telling us what to do. Right, Virginia?”

I gave her a thumbs-up from the corner I was currently pressed into.

“We don’t appreciate you acting like idiots!” Vermont screamed. His eyes looked dangerously close to popping out of their sockets.

“Say that again!” Georgia screamed back. “Say it- OW! CALIFORNIA, YOU IDIOT!”

“Sorry,” California said, shrugging. “But the chance was there, man, and it was way too good to pass up.”

“YOU CAN’T JUST GO THROWING ORANGES AT PEOPLE!” Georgia’s expression was murderous, and the vivid orange juice streaming down her forehead did nothing to improve her appearance.

“OH, LOOK WHO’S TALKING NOW, PEACH-HEAD!” Vermont yelled.

“PEACH-HEAD? YOU’RE THE PEACH-HEAD, AND YOU’VE GOT THE HAIR TO PROVE IT!”

“CALIFORNIA! GIVE ME THAT ORANGE!”

VIRGINIA!” Georgia screeched, turning to me. “Help me out here!”

And that is when I lost it. I took a deep breath, stood up, and grabbed the bowl of wax fruit I kept on my side table.

IF Y’ALL DON’T SHUT UP RIGHT NOW, I WILL THROW EVERY PIECE OF THIS AT YOU! AND IT’S WAX, SO IT’LL HURT!

All three of them stared at me, dumbfounded.

“ENOUGH ARGUING! EVERY STATE VOTES THE WAY THEY WANT TO, BASED ON THEIR PEOPLE’S BELIEFS! THROWING FRUIT AT EACH OTHER IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE ANYONE’S MIND! SO JUST LEAVE IT ALONE, WILL YOU?”

Silence. Dead silence.

“Virginia has a point,” Georgia finally admitted.

Vermont gave me a long look before holding out his hand. “Okay, I shouldn’t have-”

“Beaten me up with the election results because of the way we voted?” I smiled wanly.

“Sorry,” Vermont said. “No harsh feelings?”

I hesitated for a moment before taking his hand and shaking it. “None at all.”

“Great!” California chirped. “Because there’s something I’ve really, really been wanting to tell you guys for the last three minutes.”

“Yeah?” Vermont asked.

“I wanted to tell you,” California said, “this.

Two peeled oranges came hurtling toward us. I managed to duck mine, but Vermont wasn’t quite as lucky. His hit him right in his chin – the only spot on his face that hadn’t been covered with peach juice.

Vermont’s eyes blazed. “I’LL KILL YOU, CALIFORNIA!

California laughed. “Oh, Vermont. All is fair in love, war and political debates.”

I grimaced as I watched Vermont chase California around my room and knock over half my furniture in the process.

“Babies,” Georgia scoffed.

“I think,” I said faintly, “I’m going to vote Liberal in the next presidential election, just so that Vermont won’t go homicidal on me again.”

Maryland’s Identity Crisis

“Virginia? Can you help me, please?”

Maryland was standing in my doorway, biting her lip nervously. One of her tiny hands was fluttering around the tie of her frilly dress, and the other was pulling at a curl of golden hair. I held my breath and kept silent, hoping she’d take the hint and leave.

Of course, being Maryland, she didn’t. Instead, she simply stood there, looking pathetic, until I could take it no longer.

“Yes?” I asked, swiveling around and adjusting my spectacles.

“V-Virginia…” Maryland whispered, tugging her hair even harder. “Can I ask you a question?”

You just did, I almost said, but caught myself just in time. “Shoot.”

“Um… well… I was thinking, you know-”

I fought to keep myself from rolling my eyes. Maryland, thinking? Amazing.

“And, well, I was wondering… Am- am I…” Her voice trailed off, and she flushed a delicate pink.

“Are you?” I prompted.

“Am I Northern or Southern?” she blurted, her cheeks reddening even more. I blinked.

What?

“I mean- well, I don’t know! I asked Georgia, and she said Southern, but then I asked Massachusetts and he said Northern!”

“I really don’t know,” I said. “Look, Maryland, if that’s all you wanted to ask, then-”

Before I could finish my sentence, I found myself being violently shaken by the shoulders.

“You- don’t- understand!” Maryland  shrieked. I gulped. The look in her eyes could only be described as… disturbing.

“I didn’t even take a side in the Civil War!” she continued, shaking me harder. “Oh, Virginia, what if I don’t belong in the Union at all? What if I’m just an outcast?”

“Maryland,” I said as calmly as I could, “every one of us belongs in the Union, you included. Now please stop shaking me.”

Maryland stopped and blinked rapidly. “You- you think so?” she sniffed.

“Absolutely,” I said, looking up at her from my current position on the floor.

“But Virginia-” Maryland started, looking unsure.

California chose that moment to walk in, dripping wet and clutching an oversized umbrella.

“Virginia, man, it’s hella raining out there, I- um, you know you’re lying on the floor, right? And- Maryland…? Am I interrupting something? I can, you know, leave-”

“Wait!” Maryland had gotten that psychotic look in her eyes again – at least this time it was directed at someone else. “California, you have to help me!”

California smiled at her. “Sure, what do you need?”

“I need you,” Maryland said, leaning forward and directing an intense stare at him, “to answer my question.”

California gulped nervously. “Oookay…?”

“Am I Northern… or Southern?”

California stared at her. Maryland stared back.

“Dude… I don’t know,” California finally said, shrugging.

Please!” Maryland hissed, grabbing his shirt collar – no mean feat, considering California’s immense height. California’s eyes widened.

“Seriously, dude, I don’t know… I’m Western, I don’t know how things work out East… Maryland- Maryland, please don’t- Virginia, man, help me out here!”

“Hey, I brought peaches!” Georgia chirped, strolling into the room and swinging a large basket. “They’re- oh my God, Maryland, why are you throttling California? And why is Virginia huddled in the corner?”

Maryland turned to Georgia. “Georgia…” she said faintly. “No one’s answering me…”

Georgia sighed. “Is this about that North-South thing again?”

That’s when Maryland broke down and started sobbing hysterically. “Y-you said I was Southern, but Massachusetts said I’m Northern, and Virginia didn’t know, and California started acting weird!”

Georgia glanced at California, who had evidently found his own corner to huddle in.

“Honey,” Georgia said softly, placing a hand on Maryland’s shoulder, “honestly, it doesn’t matter.”

It matters to me!” Maryland’s death glare was now directed full force on Georgia, who took a few quick steps backward.

“Honey, I’m sure we can figure something out. Why do you want to know so badly? It won’t change a thing…”

“Because!” Maryland wailed. “Everyone else has a national identity! You and Virginia are Southern, California’s Western, there’s the Midwest and the Southwest and the Northwest and I don’t fit in any of them!

“Darling-” Georgia started tentatively, but was abruptly cut off by Delaware, who had just entered the room. Normally I would be irritated – I had never particularly liked Delaware – but now all I felt was relief. If anyone could snap Maryland out of her fit, it would be her brother.

“Virginia, I- Mary? What’s going on?”

Maryland turned her tear-streaked face to Delaware and stared at him for a moment, before breaking into a run and throwing herself into his arms.

“Whoa, sis,” Delaware said, staggering back a little. “What-”

“No one’s answering me!” Maryland yelled. Delaware cocked his head and looked confused.

“What’s your question?”  he asked.

“Am I Northern or Southern?” Maryland asked, lip trembling. “I don’t know my national identity… Delly, how can I be a state if I don’t have a national identity? I should just secede now!”

“Why not be both?” Delaware asked.

Maryland goggled at him. “B-both…?”

“You said you didn’t feel like you belonged, right?” Delaware said, wrapping an arm around his sister’s shoulders. “Well, now you’ll belong double, because you’ll be part of both areas.”

“Yeah!” California said, pumping his fist. “Hella awesome idea, Delaware, man!”

“It’s… not bad,” I admitted. Dammit, why hadn’t I thought of that? My IQ is at least twice Delaware’s…

“Lovely,” Georgia chimed in.

“You-you think so?” Maryland asked. “You think I can be part of… both?”

Delaware nodded. “Absolutely. And don’t you dare talk of secession, Mary, or of not having a ‘national identity.’ You’re just as much a state as I am. And I live right next to you, remember? You don’t have to be Northern, or Southern, or Eastern or Western or anything to be part of the United States.” Gently, he put a finger on Maryland’s chin and propped her face up. “All you have to do is be yourself – Maryland, the seventh state of the United States… and my sister.”

I gaped at Delaware, utterly dumbfounded. He’d always seemed so… slow; where’d he pull a speech like that from? To my left, I heard Georgia clapping softly.

“Hear, hear!” California called. “Here’s to the United States!”

Maryland looked up at her brother through tearstained lashes. “Oh, Delly…” she whispered, before subjecting him to a bone-cracking hug. “You always make me feel better!”

“That’s what I’m here for,” Delaware said, grinning. “Now why don’t we go and get something to eat?”

“Okay,” Maryland said quietly, slipping her hand into his. Georgia, California and I waited until they had disappeared from sight before crawling out of our respective corners.

“Oh, man,” California sighed, brushing a few droplets of sweat from his forehead. “That was some hissy fit, huh?”

“She shook me,” I said. “Maryland actually shook me by the shoulders.”

“Not hard,” California laughed, lightly smacking the back of my head. “No offense, dude, but you’re kind of… little.”

“Hey!” I said, smacking him back. Georgia sighed.

“Guys, do we really want to go through this again? After Maryland-”

Our hands froze, mid-smack.

Maryland,” I said.

“Who’da thought she’d be so… psychotic?” California asked.

“It’s always the quiet ones,” I said, shuddering slightly at the memory of Maryland’s crazed expression.

Always the quiet ones.”

Introduction

Greetings. My name is Virginia.

Yes, that’s right. Virginia. Site of the first English colony in the New World, tenth state to ratify the Constitution. (Delaware likes rubbing this fact in my face; he was the first, and therefore he is awesome…)

Being one of fifty states can get annoying. Interesting. Exasperating. Sometimes downright creepy (this is usually when Alaska is involved).

But boring? Never.

What ensues is a list of my fellow states’ escapades. I try to avoid getting involved, but somehow… that never really works out.