How Far We'll Go

May 29, 2008
By Stephanie Crook, Tigard, OR

The thin November sunlight beamed weakly through the windows of the classroom, almost desperately it seemed to David, like each pale, golden ray was trying to single-handedly lift the gloom of the atmosphere. With a sigh, he hunched forward over his desk and buried his head in his folded arms, no longer bothering to pretend to listen to his teacher’s droning lecture. What did it matter? The way world affairs were heading, did he really need to know about the value of calculus? The events of yesterday morning played out in his head over and over and over, a slideshow of broken images that wouldn’t end. He remembered the way his mom sat fixated in front of the television screen, remembered the ashen face of the breaking news reporter, remembered how the reporter’s hands shook as he delivered the news, and remembered so clearly the single tear that slipped down his mother’s cheek as she heard the verdict: war.

According to David’s punctual wristwatch, exactly 27 hours had passed since he heard of the missile that hit the heart of New York City, launching the globe into World War III. Somewhere out there, chaos and panic pervaded the atmosphere, but here in this classroom, far across the country, nothing had changed. Nothing felt different. He felt nearly the same way he did everyday, except now he had a nagging question in the back of his mind: what will happen if I die? What if we all die?

The bell, signaling the end of a slow school day, shook David from his deep musings, but he still wasn’t fully aware as he slowly stood up, elongating his tall frame, and then left the building, making his way home.

Outside, the wind whipped viciously against David, nearly whisking the old baseball cap off of his blonde head, but David hardly gave it a thought. He just dug his hands deeper into the pockets of his grandpa’s tattered, old coat. There was something about that old coat that drew David in. When he wore it, he almost felt as if he were living in another time, a happier era, but really, he couldn’t think of what happier era that might be. As far as he could tell, humans were never completely satisfied. He frowned at the thought and kept on walking and thinking. His grandfather had worn this very same coat back when he was in high school, when the world appeared to be at peace. What happens now? What would nuclear warfare do to the human race, or to the planet for that matter? If everyone fought until total destruction, what was left?

David abruptly stopped walking when he realized he had reached the little newspaper stand at the corner of the park. He always read the paper, just like his dad did before he died serving in the Iraq war. It was part of his routine and he never strayed from it. Never. Not if he could help it. Everyday he read the paper almost completely through, only skipping through the ads and celebrity gossip. He settled down on the rickety park bench, and unfolded his newspaper in front of him. Immediately an article caught his eye: “New Life Sprouts at Yellowstone After Man-Made Fire Devastates Forests”. In the accompanying photograph, a sapling poked its leafy head through the charred, barren landscape. So that’s what’ll happen.

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This article has 3 comments.

hunnybear said...
on Aug. 15 2008 at 9:07 am
I think this author shows potential, but I agree that the ending was a bit abrupt. I hope to read more from this author!

annie said...
on Aug. 9 2008 at 12:46 am
Well written. Only thing I didn't like was the too sudden ending... a few more sentences might have made it a little less abrupt? Could have also changed the mood, if the author wanted to, provide a little bit of hope? Or - if that wasn't the intention, a few more sentences could have made it a little more FINAL... just something to help with the abrupt ending. I thought there was another page missing or something. Other than that, though, I enjoyed it, and am very impressed with writing ability! :)

katcrook said...
on Aug. 7 2008 at 10:52 pm
very thought provoking story. I enjoyed reading it.

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