the Veteran | Teen Ink

the Veteran

December 19, 2017
By tomtheterrifying BRONZE, Nicholasville, Kentucky
tomtheterrifying BRONZE, Nicholasville, Kentucky
1 article 0 photos 1 comment

Thomas was a little boy who lived in his own perfect world, while the world that lived around him was unhinged. The year was 1971, and Thomas’s dad had went off to fight in the war when Thomas was really young, but he was still eager his daddy coming home, and then everything would be better. This year had been an odd one for the rest of Thomas’s family, well specifically two members of his family, his mother and grandmother. His grandmother’s condition had worsened this year, alzheimers had been a relentless partner with her in her older age, and just recently she started to lose things other than her memory. She had gotten so bad this year that she could not walk about by herself anymore, she could not bathe herself, nor could she even use the bathroom by herself. Thomas’s mother was the only family member willing to take care of the old woman, but the task still proved to be too much for one person to handle, so she decided the nursing home would be the best place for the her. Even though it was sad for her to see this once proud woman to be reduced to an infantile state of helplessness, she did not give up on her, and made a point of visiting every day, and she brought Thomas with her of course. Admittedly Thomas did not like the nursing home, he did not like the smell, or the way the people the old people acted towards him, he imagined them as sunbathing lizards. He was also, somewhat shamefully, afraid of the old men and women. He might also have been afraid that they would eat him. (If only because they threatened to do so every time he visited.) There was one man he did like to visit at the nursing home though, there was an old veteran by the name of Frank, every day Thomas came in Frank was almost always sitting in his favourite spot looking out the window. Frank did not talk much, but this made a very good listener, not a lot of people were willing to listen to Thomas, so to him Frank was his best friend. That day when they got to the nursing home Thomas’s mother was very insistent that he visit his grandma, Thomas did not actually like visiting her, when they used to vit a few months ago she would talk to him a little, but now she didn't even do that, all she would do is look at them with a confused expression on her face, unable to recognize her family
“Mom,” said Thomas “i don’t want to visit grandma” Thomas’s mother, Carroll as some call her, was a middle aged asian american woman who had dealt with an almost unimaginable amount of stress that year, and it showed plainly across her features, demonstrated in the abundance of lines that now cross her face, and the new streaks of grey that have started appearing in her hair. She stopped walking and looked at her fidgety son. With a sigh she asked “why don’t you want to visit grandma anymore? You used to like coming to see her.” Thomas looked bashfully at the floor “well….. Grandma is kind of creepy now….. All she does is stare now, and she doesn't talk to me anymore.” Carroll frowned deeply at this
“I know she is sick honey, but if you were sick you would want visitors too wouldn’t you?” Thomas thought about it for a moment and then said “I don’t think she likes me anymore…… did i make grandma angry? Is that why she won’t talk to me?”
“No honey, she would never be mad at you, she is just really confused right now.” Thomas seemed to accept this answer but he still asked “So…. will she get better soon mom?” She thought over this question for a while, there was no good answer for this. “Yes honey, i think she will feel much better soon.” He smiled at this and said
“I can’t wait for her to get better!” Carroll smiled weakly and said
“I guess if you don’t want to you can wait out here while i visit her” Thomas hugged his mom and said “tell her i’m not mad either okay?”
“Yeah i will honey, stay out of trouble while i am gone okay?”
“Okay” with that Thomas walked into the lobby area and went to his usual spot, which was right across from were Frank was looking out the window, like always. “Hi Mr. Frank, how are you today?” Frank didn't respond to this. “well i am doing good, do you want to hear what happened at school today?” Frank moved his head slightly, which Thomas took as a yes.
“Well the teacher let us color a lot today, so i made something in for you!” Thomas reached inside his backpack and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper with a picture of what might used to have been a dog, but now more resembles a red, green, and yellow smudge. He slid this onto a coffee table that sat between he and Frank “I worked really hard on this one for you, do you like it?” Frank looked over at the coloring on the table for a moment before nodding and looking back to the window. Thomas’s eyes widened as if the old man had payed him some great compliment. “Really, you think so?” the old man nodded again
“Thank you!” Thomas had a huge grin on his face for a moment before a puzzling expression slowly creeped onto his features “you used to be an army man didn’t you?” Frank didn't even answer this question with a nod, but his expression did harden slightly. “My daddy is an army man too you know, and i miss him a lot, but mommy said that i would not see him for a long time, she that he was missing. I was wondering if you would know where he is….. Because you were an army man too?” Frank looked at thomas sadly and said some of the few words Thomas had ever heard from him.
“i’m sorry, i don’t know where he is.” Thomas sighed and looked at the floor
“That’s okay, i was just wondering if you would know.” Thomas waitede a moment before he said “Mommy told me that a lot of people are mad at daddy, but mommy also told me not to believe them, she said that daddy was a hero.”
“People used to be mad at me too….” Thomas looked up at Frank, he still wasn’t sure how he felt about the man talking, “why is that?”
Frank looked at the boy with eyes deep with age, but that looked as if they were seeing things for the first time as he spoke. “I used to have all kinds of brothers in the army, i knew that i would give my life for any one of them, just like they would do the same for me, and most of them did. It was a long time ago when Japan was still mad at us, they decided they wanted to hurt us badly. They sent a lot of airplanes to attack a ship that we had,and unfortunately me and my friends were there too.” Thomas’s eyes widened
“And then what happened?”
“When they attacked the us everyone was confused, we were running around trying to find out was going on, ‘who is attacking us?’ we wondered. Well they hurt a lot of people, including my friends, most of them i never saw again. We were all mad at them for hurting those people so we did something to hurt them back, and we did something really bad. A lot of people were mad at us after that.” Thomas looked at him sadly
“Did my dad hurt people too?” Frank nodded.
“But he is doing it so no one else gets hurt, your dad is a hero, no matter what anyone else says.” The two of them sat quietly across from one another for a long moment before Thomas broke the silence. “Do you think i will ever see Daddy again?” Frank looked sadly at his hands as if they may hold the answer before saying “Yes, i believe you will see your daddy again one day” they both remained silent after that until Thomas’s mother came out and they went home. The next day was the day Thomas’s father had returned home, two immaculately dressed soldiers had arrived at the door with grim faces and a respectful tone, they had found Thomas’s father.

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