Forever | TeenInk

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 Dec. 8 2010 at 2:35 pm
fashionlover16 SILVER, New Gloucester, Maine
5 articles 0 photos 49 comments

Favorite Quote:
I honestly don't know what my favorite personal quote is. I can tell u what i like, if u want that. I really like the twilight series. whenever my mom suggests that we should go shopping, i light up. I love shopping. well thats about it, byez!!!!! <3

honesty thts all u have 2 say?? I almst cried when  i read this

on Nov. 24 2010 at 2:34 pm
ohsnapitsmegan BRONZE, Stockton, California
2 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
Writing is just thinking on paper

I love this story! Keep on writing!!

on Oct. 3 2010 at 6:17 pm
passion.fable14 SILVER, Fort Collins, Colorado
8 articles 0 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life is like a cup of coffee. You gotta...dive right in and drink it fast before it cools. Because coffee sucks when its cool. And it tastes like crap. Do you want your life to taste like crap Sam? I don't. That's why i don't drink coffee."
~~Carlt

Wow that was really awesome!!! Fantastic job!

hanu said...
on Oct. 3 2010 at 3:38 pm
Good Story

on Oct. 3 2010 at 3:36 pm
Nice job!!!

on Sep. 11 2010 at 5:50 pm
Mohammed Hussain GOLD, New York City, New York
10 articles 0 photos 15 comments
Amazingly written.

DA BRONZE said...
on Sep. 11 2010 at 6:20 am
DA BRONZE, Mangalore, Other
1 article 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
They conquer who believe they can-John Dryden

that was awesome!

KelsieYellow said...
on Sep. 11 2010 at 2:37 am

I agree

 


on Jul. 29 2010 at 6:13 pm
DiamondsIntheGrass GOLD, Martinsville, New Jersey
14 articles 1 photo 279 comments

Favorite Quote:
Worry is simply a misuse of the imagination.

the ending is so sweet.

on Jul. 29 2010 at 1:50 pm
deus-ex-machina14 BRONZE, Stewartsville, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 439 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There are two main tragedies in life. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." -Oscar Wilde

**how** (lol)

on Jul. 29 2010 at 1:49 pm
deus-ex-machina14 BRONZE, Stewartsville, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 439 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There are two main tragedies in life. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." -Oscar Wilde

A captivating tale! You'll have to excuse ow corny I am, haha, but this is very, very good work. Keep writing and never stop!!

AeroAsh87 said...
on Jul. 29 2010 at 9:22 am
This story was SO heartwarming!  I couldn't stop reading it and I could tell that every single word really came from your heart.  I LOVED the part about the dorky grin.  It just makes you realize that anything can happen if you just believe it can.

on Jul. 7 2010 at 9:14 pm
RavenBird SILVER, Battle Ground, Washington
7 articles 3 photos 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same" ~The Fray "All at once"
"I am who I am and who i wanna be" ~Avril Lavigne

what a beautiful story.

on Jul. 7 2010 at 10:49 am
writerinfinity PLATINUM, Arlington, Texas
35 articles 0 photos 105 comments
really good, loss can be hard and you made that clear, good

on Jul. 7 2010 at 8:48 am
ThatClarinetPerson SILVER, Tequesta, Florida
8 articles 0 photos 227 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life. Don't talk to me about life."
~Marvin the Paranoid Android (from the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy series)
Statistical analysis suggests that i am probably in tune with someone
(hahahahaha! I love this cause i'm never ever ever in tune >o

i hope he is ok.

on Jun. 15 2010 at 6:15 pm
RobertoO PLATINUM, Barrington Hills, Illinois
31 articles 0 photos 14 comments
Just purely amazing, it felt so real, such expression, almost like it came to life and I could touch it.

on Jun. 15 2010 at 3:30 pm
Scoobymeg BRONZE, Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania
4 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that... I believe in what I do, and I'll say it.
----John Lennon

Wow! Your story is so realistic and descriptive. I Felt like I was actually watching this widow! Please keep writing!

on Jun. 15 2010 at 7:03 am
OfficialApprover PLATINUM, Orefield, Pennsylvania
48 articles 0 photos 1754 comments

Favorite Quote:
Grab life by the balls. -Slobberknocker
We cannot change the cards we're dealt just how we play the hand
Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted
It's pretty easy to be smart when you're parroting smart people
-Randy Pausch

Oh my gosh this is SO amazing!  Very realistic!  AWESOME piece of work.  Keep writing!

Btw, anyone who sees this, will you check out my work and comment on it?


on May. 24 2010 at 10:01 pm
collegegirladventures GOLD, Mequon, Wisconsin
10 articles 8 photos 307 comments

Favorite Quote:
A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.

~Salman Rushdie

Amazing story!!! This absolutely does not sound like a fiction story. The writer made it sound so real. But even if this is true or not, there are hundreds of people in this world who have gone through this same kind of trial. Some still remain in the darkness, but others have seen the sunshine break through those heavy gray clouds of sadness.

I know what it's like to lose someone who you really loved. It's like a hole that has been dug into your heart: you can just feel that air pass in that big, hollow space. Keep writing!!


on May. 24 2010 at 9:09 pm
CanYouSeeTheCrazy PLATINUM, Cle Elum, Washington
21 articles 0 photos 125 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I know why everyone in this world is so desperate to find love."
"Oh yeah? Why then?"
"Because, it's the closest thing we have to magic."

great story, well written, and it could have fooled me if it was in nonfiction. =]