This is for Onthespot's air show/soldier story contest. It's about when a boy's dad is killed in Iraq.


The enormous, iridescent moon, suspended from the clear inky sky, was perfectly round, a glowing sphere illuminating the craggy rocks for miles around. Stark white against pure black, the contrast in colours only emphasized its regal brightness. It was the only real symbol of beauty in this rugged, arid desert, whose peaceful demeanour was a false façade. A glowing beacon, it guided them forwards.

Bang. Bang.

Across the gritty, drifting sand, tiny specks began to move; right now, the danger was far away, the men no more than an army of ants. But all too soon, they would be here. Reluctantly, the moon began to sink down behind the leering dunes, replaced by the energetic sun which leapt eagerly into place. The new day appeared, hazy yet bright, the sun taking centre place in the perpetual strip of blue. The sand and rocks were a spectacular golden colour; the gentle breeze carried thousands of glittering grains across the air. It was dawn; it was time.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

With, swift practised movements; he picked up his gun, secured his helmet, and stepped out onto the battlefield. He was working on auto-drive, numbly following his comrades as they crept forwards and settled into their positions. Taking one last peek at the carefully folded picture in his pocket, he murmured a prayer to an unknown god, his mouth opening and closing silently. The image swirled around his head; his beautiful wife with long, ebony hair and lustrous green eyes, her quirky grin twisting at the corners. Next to her were his 10-year-old twin sons. With their wiry copper hair, dark eyes and easy smiles, they were the exact replica of their dad.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.

The danger was imminent, the fear consuming him, the adrenaline pounding around his body. An invisible signal, and they were up and running, tearing across the sand. Glancing to the side, his best friend was taking aim, bullets spitting from his gun over the burning desert. They shared a secret, reassuring smile, ducking and rolling to a stop behind a huge boulder.  Pausing to catch their breath for a second, they scrambled to their feet and carried on. Relentlessly, he unleashed a tirade of bullets. If he could just kill them all, he could be home with his family. Home, safe.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.

It was a single bullet. Spinning across the dry air, it had perfect aim. It flew straight towards his chest.


I woke up screaming for my dad to run.

It was a week ago since my dad died. He was an ordinary man, with an ordinary life and an ordinary family. The he was shot dead in Iraq. Murdered, if you ask me- after all, if you shoot someone here, you’re a murderer, so why should it be any different for soldiers? I guess my brother, James would disagree. He thinks Dad’s death was heroic: I just think it was depressing.

It was the day of the funeral. Mum and I were crumpled onto hard wooden chairs at the varnished oak kitchen table, sobbing in to our untouched cereal, hugging each other. Briskly, James marched downstairs, already dressed immaculately and ready to go. “Come on, Aunty Linda is picking us up in 15 minutes, and you two haven’t even eaten yet.” For a 10 year old he sure was bossy.  Grudgingly, my mum scraped back her chair and piled her bowl on top of last night’s unwashed dishes.

“I’m not hungry.” She muttered, turning and dragging herself upstairs. 

James stared at me, confused. “You’ve been crying.” He snapped accusingly.  

“It isn’t illegal you know.” I sighed, miserably stacking my bowl on the side. James grabbed my arm urgently as I tried to leave.

“Dad wouldn’t have wanted you to cry.” He hissed.  “He would have wanted us to be brave and look after mum, not snivel in a corner.”

“You’re right. He does… would have wanted us to look after mum. But he also understood that people get upset.” I pushed past him and stormed upstairs, feeling a fresh surge of tears about to flow.

“Only cowards cry!” I heard James yell.

Breaking in to a run, I dashed across the carpeted landing, slammed my door and collapsed on to my creaky bed. I shut my brimming eyes, letting the hot tears splash on to the creased navy and turquoise striped cotton. I felt a welcome, gentle arm around me; Mum pulled me close and held on to me as my whole body quaked with the massive sobs. Then after a while she led me to the tiled bathroom and washed my raw red face, before telling me to get changed quickly.

Numbly, I yanked on the black woollen jumper and new jeans, fiddling with the muddy laces on my clean trainers in frustration as I tried to tie them quickly. I felt a cold hand replace mine, tying them neatly. I saw that Mum was wearing exactly the same as I was, but had switched trainers for her work shoes. No make-up, she hadn’t worn that since dad died. She dutifully combed my ash blonde hair, and checked I was ready.

All of this was done in complete silence.

A horn was beeped outside, and James burst in, loudly announcing that our ride was here. Gripping my mum’s hand tight, I followed my twin into the sleek, crimson car: the colour of blood.

 The funeral parade was slow; we were right behind the huge coffin covered with the Union Jack. Eventually we reached the exquisite little church where the funeral would take place. Tears had already stained my face once again as we pulled in to the gravelled car park and stumbled over to the large group of people that were crowded round to towering pine trees.

If I’m honest everything was a bit of a blur. People talked, people cried, and then the coffin was lowered in to the ground. When Mum went up to make a speech, I tried to hold on to James but he just glared at me in disgrace. The next thing I know, James has strode over to the coffin and stands tall in front of everyone.

Then he began to speak. “Dad, I swear I’ll look after the family, I’ll keep them safe just like you would have wanted. We’re all upset, but we know you were a hero- I know you were a hero. I’ll make you proud Dad, I’ll get good reports at school and win the football matches for you, then when I’m older, I’ll follow in your footsteps.” He paused, and I think I stopped breathing when he said, “I’m going to be a soldier.”

That day my heart shattered into a million pieces.

Submitted: July 28, 2013

© Copyright 2023 bluerose78. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:



I fell in love with this piece. I have a love for war and military stories, but this might have been my favorite so far! I understand now why James was acting so strong. He wanted to be just like his dad, and it almost made me tear up. Well done!

Sun, July 28th, 2013 6:36pm


Glad you liked it :)

Mon, July 29th, 2013 12:00pm


This was simply amazing from start to end. From the moment i read the first few lines, i fell in love with it. Well done. The descriptions were so good. I could the emotion from the narrator. As a writer, we aim to be able to make the reader picture and feel your words. And you have done that. It was also interesting. It drew me in. I am a picky and slow reader. If im not interested from the beginning, i either leave to read later or stop (but for the contests i swear i read them all lool) But with this piece; i read it all in one go. The ending was super sad when the little boy said he was going to be a soldier. And that was a good place to leave it aswell. Well done once again and double like on this

Fri, August 2nd, 2013 10:21am


Thanks, so glad you hosted the competition!

Sun, August 4th, 2013 6:59am


oh! my dear child were did you get so much information into your system of war, this piece is magnificent, it has so much body in it, you have had me in tears just reading this, how marvellous you are, thank you.

Sat, August 24th, 2013 3:33pm


No, thank you for reading it, I'm so glad someone enjoys reading my work this mich, it means a lot :)

Sat, August 24th, 2013 3:48pm


wow! this piece is incredible such wonderful vivid descriptions and thoughts. it could easily have been written by a professional author and i mean that sincerely dont under estimate your'e writing ability.

Sun, September 1st, 2013 4:15pm


thank you, I'm really happy that you thought that

Sun, September 1st, 2013 12:10pm

M K Brown

"stumbled over to the large group of people that were crowded round to towering pine trees." - "stumbled over to the large group of people that were crowded round two towering pine trees."

Hiya, sorry it has taken so long to get here but college work has taken over my life lately. This is excellent; great descriptions, virtually flawless and well written. The way you begin with the nightmare was great, after the first couple of paragraphs I was a bit put off by the story and the way they were rolling around and the "bang, bang" bits but then it came into focus when it became clear it was a 10 year old's dream/nightmare. The way you described the creation of a child's subconscious was very well executed. I enjoyed this. :)

Mon, September 16th, 2013 5:12am


Thanks for reading and commenting! :) I know what you mean about college, I'm back at school and I can't seem to find time to do anything!

Mon, September 16th, 2013 9:12am


This was definitely an amazing piece. You had fantastic descriptions. A bit lengthy at times, but it's understood for your style. I definitely liked your use of different words instead of the plain old junk. A lot of emotion, and feelings. I enjoyed it :)

Sat, September 21st, 2013 2:34am


Thanks, glad you didn't think it was junk (haha!) ;)

Sat, September 21st, 2013 12:49am


Amazing. Honestly I dont think this could have been any better. At the end you potrayed the emotion in the speach amazingly, it even made tears prick my eyes reading it. Its so sad loosing someone you love in war. Especially a family member. Your descriptions at the start were amazing and throughout the story it was very detailed. I think you've done an amazing job. Great work! :)

Sun, October 6th, 2013 11:29am


Aww thank you! :)

Sun, October 6th, 2013 8:58am


This poor family...and to think that this stuff happens all the time. It makes me feel so much more thankful for the things our soldiers do for us. Amazing descriptions of both the places and the emotions that the brothers were going through. I'm glad this was one of your requests.

Tue, November 12th, 2013 10:42pm


Thanks :)

Wed, November 13th, 2013 9:03am

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