Playing With Toy Soldiers This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 6, 2012
He walked up the steps in line with the rest, just another toy soldier off to battle. But he wasn't just another toy solider: his gun was real. He was another human being. Blood coursed through his veins, carrying the oxygen he breathed in through his lungs. His heart was beating. His hands were warm.

But he wasn't just another human being: he was my father.

November 7, 2012, sometime before noon, I stood beside my 10-year-old brother. His little hand was shaking as he held mine. My hand was shaking too, and I was so cold I couldn't even check the time. My stepmother stood on the other side of my brother. She was shaking. I couldn't tell if it was due to the cold or because she was crying.

I wasn't crying.

As we watched the rest of the toys being loaded onto the plane, I couldn't stop trying to think of the best metaphor to describe how cold I was. Was my breath turning to ice as I exhaled? Was my body full of its own toy soldiers, making me shake with bombs sent to fight off the winter's army? No, I'd leave that visual to the movies. Robert Zemeckis had ­portrayed it better in two seconds in his animated ­remake of “A Christmas Carol.”

The plane's engines thundered, beginning a long storm headed for chaos, a chaos those toy soldiers were expected to end with wooden guns and plastic machinery.

My eyes told me it was time to cry. They must have held a gun to my head, because I listened. But the tears didn't come because I was watching my ­father go off to war. They poured down over my face in a bout of shame and regret.

Commandment nine of the Ten Commandments – Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor ­– is translated by clergy as “Do not lie.” Although I don't believe, I knew I had committed a sin. In the moments before my father joined his line, I had told him I loved him.

I lied because of the guilt and the longing. I lied because I wanted the words I gave him to be real. I lied because no man should be thrown into the midst of chaos with a broken heart, shredded from knowing the painful truth.

The truth was that his own shadow of flesh and blood saw him in her damaged eyes as just another toy soldier, just another human who failed at being a father.

Some say that the best tragedies begin with a fairy tale, because when the farmers fill their baskets with apples, they have to pick the ripest ones. But this wasn't a best-selling tragedy. This was life.

And my life began when the apples in the baskets had already gone rotten.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Klammyt This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 7, 2013 at 9:18 pm
Oh, my God. That just gave me chills. Your metaphors were just...amazing. Wow.
upinflight This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 14, 2013 at 4:07 pm
Wow. ^ That was the first word that entered my mind when I finished the last sentence. This was incredible to read. The way you convey emotions, the way you narrate; this is everything I'd wish to see in my own writing. Please keep up the lovely writing, I hope to read more of your work. :)
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