Vietnam, 1965

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The Blue-Eyed Soldier stared at me with hungry eyes. He drew a pale hand near my face, but I slapped it away. He looked surprised and his marble-eyes grew bigger.

My daddy told me all Americans had eyes like full moons and skin the color of milk. He told me never to speak to them or they could learn our language and our secrets. They were monsters here to invade us and they would kill anyone, women and children included, that got too close. Here was one of them in front of me. I wondered how long it would be before the gun at his belt would be pointed at my face.

The American didn’t grab his gun, but rather stole the water jug from my hands. I let him have it, lest I die. He bent his head backward and drunk until my hard-earned water was dry. Finally, he lowered the jug and let out a string of words at me. They sounded like a cross between gargling and the sound of stomping feet. He continued jabbering and I considered running away.

He grabbed my hand and jerked me up. I tried to fight him, but he was too strong, even kneeling on his knees. I shook my head wildly and he looked at me dumbly with tired blue eyes. Didn’t he understand that I wanted him to leave? Americans must be stupid like pigs. With their pink skins, they didn’t look too different either.

He stood up and dragged me along. Maybe he would poach me from my family and take me to his homeland of white ghosts.

We left my water jug behind. I considered my bad luck. I only wanted to fetch water since the basin in the kitchen was used dry. Now there would be no more water for my brother and father. Where could they be? He led me around in circles around the brush of my neighborhood. Where were the other neighbors?

He pulled my wrist harder and I screamed in disgust. He looked at me in surprise and turned away. I hated this man.

He pulled me further into the brush until we came to my house, the only house for a few miles. What was he planning to do? I decided that when we came close, I would scream for my Papa so he would save me and beat the white man bloody. Then I remembered the American’s gun.

He made another sound to get my attention and pointed to the house. Then he jerked my head. I hesitated and he waited for my response. I nodded. Perhaps this fool believed I was lost.

The white man came to our house and pushed the wood open. It was very quiet and nobody was there. I was surprised. Where was my family?

He cautiously led me in and closed the door. He walked around the kitchen and glanced at the pots that used to belong to Mama and Papa’s empty beer bottles. He even touched my brother’s sipping cup with his dirty fingers. Then he stepped into the other room and looked into our bedrooms. He saw Papa’s straw mattress and the two blankets where I would sleep with my brother.

He let go of my hand. I flinched and drew back before I realized that he was not going to grab me again. Quietly, with mice feet, I tiptoed backward.

He sat down on Papa’s bed, and I noticed that he looked very, very tired. I stood there and watched as he slowly set his head down on the straw and fell asleep very quickly. I hesitantly drew nearer but I waited five minutes to make sure that he was asleep. Carefully, very carefully, I took the gun from his belt and snuck away.

I quietly snuck out of the house and waited for Papa and my brother to arrive. I waited until it was near nightfall. I thought he would never arrive, but Papa finally came back carrying a butchered pig, with my brother holding a sack of rice. I whispered to Papa and told him about the American. He set the pig down and took the gun from me. He told my brother to stay inside while I followed him into the house. He was sitting there, quietly reading a thick black book with a red ribbon. When he finally saw us, Papa’s gun was already raised at him. He blindly recognized the weapon pointed at him and noticed that the gun was missing from his belt. In terror, his blue marble eyes swept from Papa with the gun to me. I never forgot that look on his face before Papa shot him.





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