the forgotten

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
the story of the thousands who graduate from the land god forgot.

Submitted: March 20, 2016

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Submitted: March 20, 2016

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Boredom. Endless, painful, and unabashed in its purpose. Months before that particular morning, if it could be called that, we boarded planes and flew hundreds of miles to get here and now we’d walk back if it meant freedom. Fort Benning, two o’clock in the morning, and us; the disenfranchised, the broken, those who would have been homeless otherwise now forced to work together to survive the tartarus esque place we found ourselves in. We were promised an experience unlike anything the civilian world could offer and I suppose we found it. In the beginning we had discussed our lives outside the misery but now girlfriends had sent us their final goodbye’s, friends stopped writing, and family felt more like a movie we watched once rather than something special. Our brothers surrounded us, our parents screamed and shouted, and our social life consisted of going to one person’s wall locker space or another’s. We counted the time by meals we had left until family day; three days to be human again, three days that meant more to us than oxygen, and even with mere hours until its arrival we may as well have been another nine weeks away.

 

Someone had fallen asleep on guard and now we would have to fix the problem, “Complacency kills” our father screamed as we pushed the floor beneath us until it resembled more of a swimming pool than a marching surface. Our father was a cruel, unforgiving man, but he was the only one most of us had ever known. It was not the anger that crushed us, but his disappointment when we failed to accomplish the simple things that stung the most. An hour went by, and then another before we finally staggered back into our bunks. I had a wide smile across my face and when asked how I could possibly be happy I responded, “Because I get to see her tomorrow.” Her, she, was Samantha. The girl I never spoke above for fear my fate would be the same as those around me. I had written to her in the weeks prior telling her to not come. It would’ve been too painful to see her. In the excellence school of movement it becomes simpler to just forget your life prior to arriving. To see her face, hold her hand, hear her voice, and then return back to the abyss would’ve crushed me. But she knew me too well, and she was coming anyways. There was doubt in my mind as I stood like a statue with the sun on my face. The families of my brother’s stood in front of us taking pictures but Sam was nowhere to be found. My eyes scanned the familiar brick and cement landscape begging to god she had found her way to me. And then she emerged from behind a pair of grandparent’s in tears and I fought my hardest to suppress my smile, I failed. We were released on pass and she fell into my arms, crying. We stumbled into bed and after the stumbling was finished all I could think about was the return, but she took that away with a smile and soon I found myself smiling as well.

 

The day after she was gone I received my orders, Ft. Campbell, eight hours away. I feared the worst, she did not. Then my deployment orders came, I feared the worst, and she did not. Then the bullets came and I couldn’t fear anymore. I watched her smear her makeup at a funeral attended by those same people I had been trapped away with. They cried too, but out of thanks not anger. Thankful it had not been them, thankful for having known me, thankful for having gotten them back at a price they couldn’t afford. I watched her return home for a semester and I like to think she heard me screaming at her how important college was. I watched her graduate. I watched and hoped she would forget. I watched her fall in love. I watched her get married, and I watched that same smile take the fear out of her man’s eyes just as she had done to mine. I watched her have a child and thought maybe I was gone from her life, just as I had wanted. And then I watched them name that child, and I smiled. Now I watch no more. And I’m happy she could take the fear out of me one final time.

 


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