Forever MAG

By Aerin Gleason, San Diego, CA

In the days of the war, when men and women ran headfirst into ­barrages of gunfire, there was not one person unaffected. Soldiers died, and families submerged in sorrow when the officer knocked on their door. I was no different. I was the naive, fresh-out-of-high-school girl who married a reservist, and then paid the price for my innocence.

I remember that hour vividly: the meek face of the officer, the wind nudging the clouds over the sun, down to the small flag waving on my porch. I bit down on my lower lip. This was the moment that had starred in my nightmares for seven months. At any second, I would wake up and be staring at the ugly popcorn ceiling of my bedroom. That relief never came. Zachary Atmos, my husband, was killed trying to protect an injured comrade.

Exactly one week later, in a whirl of color and people talking too fast, I followed my brother-in-law to my seat at the funeral. It was a miserable day. Rain had poured relentlessly for two days. In my self-pity I believed that the angels were crying.

The militaristic funeral service was covered by neon blue tarps; the riflemen seemed unfazed by the cold. In unison, their guns fired three times in salute to my husband. With every ringing shot, I shook.

I wondered what he had heard in his final moments. Was he in pain when he died? Had he thought of me? What if I had joined alongside him and been deployed also? Would things have been different? Now there was no way of knowing.

Like the statues placed around the cemetery, I was similarly stone-faced, but with ribbons of moisture running down my face. I was crying. I and the attendees around me were like a black-clad sculpture garden, conveying solemnity in our midst. I moved only to accept the flag that was laid over my husband’s coffin. Over the sheet-like drone of the rain, a single bugle player performed the lonely tune of Taps – a lullaby for the dead.

Then, as quickly as everything had begun, it was over. I was walking away, my face downcast toward the sidewalk. I wondered if Zack was watching me, if he was feeling okay. My mind was so wrapped in these questions, I wasn’t paying attention. The stiletto heel of my shoe wedged into a crevice, causing the other to slip on the concrete. My leg flew up while the other collapsed under me. I don’t remember much of the initial fall, but I must have yelled, for the ducks nearby retreated to their hidden nests in the reeds.

My dress was wet and my tumble broke my umbrella. My bangs stuck
to my temples, pressing the newly acquired grime to my face. Forcing myself to my knees, I noticed a diluted film of red coating the ground. Only then did the palms of my hands and my right knee begin to sting. For the millionth time that day, tears flew to my eyes and threatened to spill over my lashes.

My marred hand went to my face instinctively, smearing blood on my cheeks and sending mascara around my eyes and brows. I caught my reflection in a puddle, my shoulders falling at my pathetic image.

Great tufts of hair hung matted, ­soggy, and windblown. My makeup ran in deformed rivers. My black gown was wrinkled and stained with blood. Suddenly, the smallest flash of light caught my eye. Centered neatly in my V-shaped collar hung the necklace I had put on that morning. My gaze was locked on the tiny charm on the delicate chain. Zack had given me it shortly before he was deployed. It depicted the face of a wolf. The flat back of the charm had a single character in Japanese hiragana: Kokoro – the word for “Forever” or “Always.”

I knelt there in the rain and wind, contemplating … always … always … The word sounded so comforting. My fingertips grazed the cool metal at my throat, and I stood. I gathered my purse and my useless umbrella, standing straight and tall. The pendant on my necklace rested comfortably at my heart like unbreakable armor.

A few hours later, I was home, bathed and warm again, hands and knee bandaged with care. Huddled by the fireplace with a book, I looked into the flames, where I swear I saw him smiling his dorky grin at me.



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This article has 129 comments.


on Oct. 20 2012 at 9:19 pm
livetodie BRONZE, ---------, California
2 articles 0 photos 2 comments
Wow. This is amazing.

on Oct. 20 2012 at 12:17 pm
hugeNYRfan BRONZE, Glen Rock, New Jersey
4 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
dreams are like rainbows, only idiots chase them

Omg, this is really good. i felt like i was really there

on Oct. 20 2012 at 12:52 am
WonTonFred1 SILVER, North Salt Lake, Utah
9 articles 0 photos 38 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you can't convince them confuse them-Harry Truman

Fiction is fiction for a reason hes supposed to be dreamy :D, loved word choice etc. etc. Would have cut out the dork part and ignore whatever wordsRus down there is saying about your story its awesome and the average reader doesn't care it's itsumo instead of kokoro.  

sonJaNae said...
on Sep. 28 2012 at 9:30 pm
sonJaNae, Fort Wainwright, Alaska
0 articles 0 photos 68 comments

Favorite Quote:
"No one can change a person, but someone can be a person's reason to change" -Spongebob Squarepants

I agree that it showed character! It was obviously somethign the widow loved about him, his dorky grin, and I think it adds the touch of nostalgic happiness that the ending was leading up to :)

sonJaNae said...
on Sep. 28 2012 at 9:28 pm
sonJaNae, Fort Wainwright, Alaska
0 articles 0 photos 68 comments

Favorite Quote:
"No one can change a person, but someone can be a person's reason to change" -Spongebob Squarepants

Oh my god. Just. I don't even have words to describe how amazing this is! It cuts especially close to my heart because my best friend and love will be graduating next year and is going to join the military. I've known him since I was seven and the though of anything happening to him is killing me. I cried when I read this. It is just so amazing!!!

on Jul. 2 2012 at 10:58 am
writer3499 GOLD, New Bedford, Massachusetts
11 articles 0 photos 196 comments

Favorite Quote:
"it's impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all-in which case you fail by default."
-J.K.Rowling

this is fantasic

on Jun. 17 2012 at 4:19 pm
Shining.With.Crystal.Clarity SILVER, Bristol, Virginia
6 articles 0 photos 28 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The Doctor talks to himself sometimes, because he's the only one who knows what he's talking about!"
~Sarah Jane Smith


"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen..."
~Hebrews 11:1

"Aim small, miss small."

Here's a long due comment on one of your pieces, Aeliss! (Sorry I didn't do it before, especially since you commented on mine.)

This is great! Really lovely style, and I could see everything happening really clear while I was reading it. Good word choice. Nice, original story! I don't wonder it got printed! =D


on Apr. 28 2012 at 11:13 pm
_ella_herondale BRONZE, San Diego, California
4 articles 2 photos 224 comments

Favorite Quote:
"...If the Thames that ran beside them...recalled a night where the moon shone as brightly as a shilling on the same boy and girl... and thought to themselves, 'at last, the wheel comes full circle,' they kept their silence."

Beautiful, sad, emotional, descriptive. Wonderful piece. I kind of cried. So goooooodddddddddddd job!!

Soulwolf said...
on Apr. 27 2012 at 10:12 pm
Soulwolf, Reston, Virginia
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
Knives don't run out of ammo. -Ziva David, NCIS

This is an awesome story! It truly is a masterpiece. Could you also read and comment on my short story, Modus Operandi?

Regia SILVER said...
on Mar. 14 2012 at 8:05 am
Regia SILVER, Greenville, South Carolina
7 articles 1 photo 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
You laugh because I'm different, I laugh because you're all the same.
We're only young once, but with humor we can be immature forever.
If you're going to get into trouble for hitting someone, you might as well do it hard.
After a game, the king and the pawn go in the same box.

I sincerely agree...I thought that was one of the best things about it...soldiers are real people, just like everyone else, and there's no reason he wouldn't have been dorky; it just adds character and reality to the story. Great piece! Fantastic writing. So vivid and realistic.

on Feb. 21 2012 at 9:50 pm
writertoday SILVER, Eagle, Idaho
7 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken." -Oscar Wilde

Really? I liked it, because I think it shows character... And dorky grins are cute. I think all dreamy is unrealistic.

on Jan. 30 2012 at 8:47 pm
Zaraclaylime DIAMOND, Chicago, Illinois
75 articles 2 photos 69 comments

Favorite Quote:
So I suppose my simple advice is: Love your life. I only say that because your life is what you have to give.
-Tom Hiddleston

dont call him a dork at the end. he was dreamy until that last part. i dont think she'd be calling her dearly departed husband a dork

WordsRUs GOLD said...
on Jan. 30 2012 at 7:03 pm
WordsRUs GOLD, Jefferson City, Missouri
10 articles 0 photos 18 comments
I hate to do this, but I must. As a student of the Japanese language, I must inform you that "kokoro" means "heart", as in the one that bears feelings. It's also written in kanji, not hiragana. The word you're looking for in that context would be "itsumo". That means always or forever when dealing with matters of the heart. Your piece was beautiful, but the lack of research on your part really ruined the most powerful scene for me.

on Jan. 30 2012 at 10:43 am
thebrighterparts BRONZE, Newton, Massachusetts
3 articles 0 photos 7 comments
Absolutely beautiful.

on Jan. 8 2012 at 9:33 pm
camohunter19 GOLD, Sedro-Woolley, Washington
14 articles 13 photos 128 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Girls are so queer you never know what they mean. They say No when they mean Yes, and drive a man out of his wits for the fun of it." "Violence is never the answer! It is a question, and the answer is yes."

Awestruck.This piece deserves professional critisism. "Incredible! Two thumbs up!"

on Jan. 8 2012 at 2:08 pm
bubblesrfun GOLD, Muskego, Wisconsin
15 articles 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be your own kind of beautiful.

Amazing! I can't believe this is fiction! It all feels so personal and realistic.

on Jan. 8 2012 at 1:05 am
Def_Leppard_fan120 SILVER, Lake Lorane, Florida
5 articles 0 photos 72 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you want your dreams to come true, Make them come true. If you want to win, Make it a win.
The only one that is stopping you from accomplish your dreams is YOU.

Check out my article called THE BATTLE and leave comments. I cried when read this. You can see what was going on in your head.

on Dec. 17 2011 at 9:45 pm
otherpoet SILVER, Wayland, Massachusetts
6 articles 9 photos 254 comments

Favorite Quote:
"For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone." - Audrey Hepburn

This is an amazing piece - no wonder it's getting chosen for print! You are so talented in your writing, I hope you write more. I loved how closely you allowed the reader to connect with your character. Over all - a great piece!

on Dec. 17 2011 at 5:47 pm
fictitious-quandary GOLD, Orlando, Florida
18 articles 5 photos 83 comments

Favorite Quote:
Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right"
- Henry Ford

* I felt so sorry for her loss 

 

 


on Dec. 17 2011 at 5:44 pm
fictitious-quandary GOLD, Orlando, Florida
18 articles 5 photos 83 comments

Favorite Quote:
Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right"
- Henry Ford

I am so sorry for your loss. This is such a moving and saddening poem I am about to cry. You're an amazing writer.




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