A Soldier's Funeral

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is for Onthespot's air show/soldier story contest. It's about when a boy's dad is killed in Iraq.

Submitted: July 28, 2013

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Submitted: July 28, 2013

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Bang.

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.


© Copyright 2019 bluerose78. All rights reserved.

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