I Promise... | Teen Ink

I Promise...

April 9, 2009
By bluejay31 SILVER, Scottsdale, Arizona
bluejay31 SILVER, Scottsdale, Arizona
5 articles 0 photos 29 comments

“Come back daddy,” I remember my daughter telling me with her big, soft eyes pleading me.

I clearly remember looking her straight in the eyes and confidently saying, “I promise.”

Then, I gave her a big hug, and I left. I left her with my sister looking after her. I left to war. To the war that would end thousands of lives.

So here I am now. The date is exactly June 26, 1950. It is one day after the war between South Korea and North Korea had started. Thousands of other soldiers like me are standing right beside me, in an orderly line. The soft whispers of worry, and anxiety flows through the dry, cracked lips from soldier to soldier. But I stay quiet, not wanting to say anything. The rhythmic beat of the feet shuffling are inevitably loud. With every step, clouds of dust are flying everywhere, causing soldiers to cough.

My once shiny black boots are being spoiled by the dirty brown dust. It is now coated in mud and dirt. But my green cotton trouser and shirt are immaculate. But in the hot, scorching sun above, my cotton uniform is causing me to sweat. There is no breeze of air, and it is extremely humid. Straight ahead of me, I can see heat waves, waving up and down. I desperately need water, but I am too afraid to ask my general to give me water. The trees to the side do not wave back and forth, but instead, they stand perfectly still. The grass is turning yellow, and mosquitoes are eating us alive.

My brown helmet is shielding my head and my long black hair. Sweat slowly trickles down my short, stubby face, and my big, clumsy hands are clamped onto my gun.

I hold my gun straight against my chest, as I march. I had never held a gun before. To be honest, I am quite afraid to be holding this gun at the moment. I remember when my general handed me this gun. I was almost afraid to accept it.

“Do you know where we are going?” suddenly asks one of the soldiers next to me.

I look over at him, and he is sweating bucket full’s of water. He has a worried expression to his face, and he looks as if he is going to faint in any moment. But for some odd reason, his eyes are twinkling, as if he is excited for something. “No,” I respond. “I’ve got no clue where we are going,” I say truthfully.

“Okay,” he simply replies.

Straight ahead of me, I see some armored tanks and cars. They are strolling along in search of any danger. The grey, suffocating steam bubbles out of the back, and rise into the perfect blue sky.

“Where are the North Koreans?” asks the same soldier beside me.

“I don’t know,” I reply with the same answer.

“This is going to be so much fun. I’ve never used a gun before, and I finally get to use one now. This is such an exciting adventure,” he says, with his eyes gleaming with excitement.

I look over at him, and I think that he is crazy. How can war be so much fun? In a way, I wish that I am as excited as he is. I wouldn’t have the fear and the nervousness inside me. I wish that I can pretend that this is all an exciting adventure as well. But I can’t. I’m not that type of person. My tame, quiet personality doesn’t allow me to even think and pretend that sort of way.

I look at my watch and the two arrows point at exactly 12:00. We are still walking down this lonely, dirty path. It is soon lunch time. I can feel blisters start to form underneath my feet. They hurt, and I try to walk on the sides of my feet, so I can avoid popping the blisters.

Suddenly, a loud roar coming from every side deafens my ear. Through the entire deafening rumble, I hear what sounds like a whisper, “Down! Down! Down!”

Obediently, I collapse to the ground. My heart beats so fast, that it feels like it’s all the way up my throat, and sweat quickly rolls down the side of my face. I place my arms over my head, and I try to regain my focus. Through all of the madness, I realize that all of the loud noises are the sounds of the gunshots ripping through the air. With every gunshot, my hands tremble with my gun.

Through all of the gunshots, I can still hear the loud shrieks of the soldiers that are getting shot at the moment. All around me, I see soldiers falling down onto the ground, with big red stains on their chests. I frantically look around my surroundings, and I can’t help but feel my stomach feel oozy. My stomach hurts, and my ears are deafened.

Everywhere I see, I see grenades being thrown. Soon after, those grenades rock the ground beneath me, causing me to quiver even more. The grenade blows up a deep hole into the earth, and couple of men shoots up into the air, with blood splattering out of their bodies.

I look away, horrified at what I’m experiencing. Beside me, I see the young soldier who had just conversed with me a while ago. His face is smiling with excitement, and he shoots his gun like a mad man. He shouts in delight.

The sky is being replaced with dark, thick clouds, darkening the battlefield. All of the mosquitoes have flown away, for they don’t want to be caught in this war as well.

Suddenly, I realize what a coward I am. I can barely stand up and use my gun. All around me soldiers are dying, but here I am huddled up, protecting myself from all of the madness and evil. Why did I even sign up to fight in this war? Was it because I was so patriotic for my country? Was it because I didn’t want my country to become communist?

I don’t want to be in this war. I want to feel the warmth of my daughter in my arms, and I want to protect her. My heart’s racing, but no matter how much I regret signing up for this war, I have to help fight for my country now. There is no backing out now. I signed up, and I am a man of integrity.

So I stand up, with my legs trembling with everlasting fear. With my legs shaking, I try to balance myself, and focus on the enemy. Through all of the madness, I spot a North Korean. He has his back faced towards me, and it’s a clear shot for me.

I lift my gun, and I focus on my victim. My fingers are placed on the trigger, but I can’t shoot. I can’t help myself to shoot him. If I shoot him, I am no different from everyone else here.

As I stand there with my fingers trembling on the trigger, I think to myself. Is war the real answer to any conflict? Why is violence the solution to everything? Why can’t we just talk everything out? Mankind has become so violent and evil. Is it so hard to love everyone and treat everyone like our brothe… “AHHH!” I yell out in pain.

Suddenly, I feel a sharp pain in my leg. I collapse onto the ground, and everything is dizzy. My leg goes numb, and I start seeing things. I still see the soldiers shooting, and I can still hear the loud rumbles of the war, but something is different. I can’t put any pressure on my left leg, and I topple onto the ground.

My head is suddenly light, and then I feel the pain in my leg. The numbness disappears, and excruciating pain takes its spot. My leg throbs, and I beg for help, shrieking as loud as I can. But my shouts are not heard through the madness. Why can’t anyone hear me? Why can’t anyone help me? I wave my arms back and forth, but no response comes forth. I sit there stranded. I feel isolated, and I suddenly feel lonely.

I look down at my leg, and I see the red stain growing bigger and bigger. Finally, my trouser and shirt are dirty. It wasn’t dirty before, but it is now…

Then, I see drips of blood falling onto the dirty ground. Drip, drip, drip. Oh no, I think. It can’t be. I place my hands on the side of my neck, and all I see is a puddle of thick red blood glued onto the palm of my hands. There is no pain, for I am dazed. I just sit there while the war continues. The throbbing in my leg continues, and the bleeding from my neck continues.

Then out of nowhere, a soldier collapses onto the ground, right beside me. His chest is stained with the blood. With the energy that I have, I look over at him and I realize that it is the soldier that had just conversed with me before all of this insanity. His eyes are cold, and he touches my arm, wanting my help. I just sit there, staring at him. I watch his slow, painful death. His hands are icy cold and his face is white. He tries to talk, but nothing comes out of his bloody lips.

Soon afterwards, the soldier dangles in my weak arms. His cold eyes stare at the grey sky above us. He doesn’t move. He doesn’t talk. The bleeding stops.

I look at him, and I whisper, “Is this what you wanted? Was this that fun?”

He doesn’t respond. I know why he doesn’t respond.

As every second passes by, I am losing more blood from my neck. With every second, I start to feel dizzier and dizzier. Soon, my vision starts to fuzz up and I know that I am becoming blind. My body aches, and my ears hurt from all of the traffic around me. I let go of the soldier. I feel like staying here. I feel like dying too. I want to give up too. But just as that thought passes through my mind, I see my daughter standing right beside me. Her bright white dress illuminates everything around me and her glowing eyes makes me want to smile. But she has a worried look on her face. With her outstretched arms, she says, “Come back daddy.”

I look at her, and I can barely force the two simple words out of my mouth. With struggle, I painfully force out, “I promise.” Then suddenly, she disappears. I frantically look for her, but she’s gone.

Soon, it feels like there’s hope again. I can’t die. Not when I had promised my daughter that I would come back.

Suddenly, I try to focus onto something with my blurry vision. That something gets closer to me. I look at his uniform, and a red cross is taped onto his shirt.

“You’re going to be fine,” says the gentleman with the red cross on his shirt. “You’re in good hands…I promise.”

The author's comments:
In the Korean War, 180 000 soldiers got injured. There were 1 520 000 deaths! 990 000 civilians were either killed or injured. Still to this day, there is no peace between North Korea and South Korea.

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This article has 59 comments.

on Nov. 16 2009 at 10:52 pm
qwertyqwerty123 PLATINUM, Concord, California
28 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
"prey on the old and your a coward
prey on the young and your pathetic
prey on the weak and your even weaker
prey on my friends and your history"
- fearless: payback (book 6) by francine pascal

this is really good but i think there might be some spelling errors... you might want to proof read it....

Shailja GOLD said...
on Nov. 1 2009 at 5:12 am
Shailja GOLD, Patna, Other
13 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
The fear of rejection is worse than rejection itself ~ Nora Profit

well...that is an amazing way of potraying the horrors of war..along with the feelings of a man at the front....

on Sep. 29 2009 at 4:34 pm
JerseyLiar9 GOLD, Warrenton, Virginia
16 articles 5 photos 51 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You've got to learn to move on, because life will move on. If you don't move on, you'll just end up in over your head."

"Never regret anything because at the time, it was exactly what you wanted."

"We accept the love we think we deserve."

this was excellent. way to get into the characters head!

5 stars

tor10jax GOLD said...
on Aug. 30 2009 at 4:07 am
tor10jax GOLD, Livingston, New Jersey
10 articles 0 photos 143 comments
I think this is a really good idea for a story but a few things could use work. I think you could cut out some lines and change a few words because it can get kind of annoying("I can feel BLISTERS start to form underneath my FEET. They hurt, and I try to walk on the sides of my FEET, so I can avoid popping the BLISTERS;"no matter how much I regret SIGHNING UP for this war, I have to help fight for my country NOW. There is no backing out NOW. I SIGHNED UP, and I am a man of integrity"). Repetition can be usefull in proving a point, but twice in two sentences without significance doesn't really do it. Try to find a better way of wording. It's a good piece. Please continue working on it.

Keep writing!

on Aug. 21 2009 at 6:16 pm
amazing. you rae a bit of an old soul aren't you? unlike anythin i've ever read on here before. God Bless you.

on Aug. 21 2009 at 4:11 pm
charlietheunicorn SILVER, Sandy, Utah
6 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Dont follow in my footseps.....I run into walls."

Hey I love this your such a great writer! Check out mine TeenInk.com/raw/Fiction/article/128729/I-hate-the-words-are-you-ok

on Aug. 21 2009 at 7:35 am
wind'schime SILVER, Malacca, Other
7 articles 1 photo 17 comments
i really compliment you on this story..its very touching.very unique.not like any i have read before..

boltbabe said...
on Aug. 9 2009 at 4:12 am
This story was really touching. You have a talent for writing descriptive stories and you seem to know how it feels to be shot!

Descant GOLD said...
on Aug. 8 2009 at 3:11 am
Descant GOLD, Huntington Beach, California
15 articles 40 photos 26 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened" –Albert Camus

Not to make light of a serious subject, but shooting your narrator in the middle of his dramatic internal monologue has got the be one of the most brilliant ways to avert melodrama ever conceived.

Five stars for the plot and overall impression, but you should work a bit on revising to improve your syntax and diction. I know the magazine edits for publication, but certain errors can be distracting for the reader, and there are a few sections that could flow better. As for the actual content of the prose, I love how you use small, concrete details to provide pathos.

on Jul. 28 2009 at 12:51 pm
camille_1441 PLATINUM, Westerville, Ohio
31 articles 0 photos 48 comments
this is simply heartfelt! tragic, beautiful. I love it!

memory- said...
on Jul. 26 2009 at 1:32 am
wow! this is still just as good as the last one. you might want to make when he actually gets shot, a little more descriptive, or flowy. but othere then that, i thought it was great :)

amyxu said...
on Jun. 4 2009 at 7:48 pm
Hey, nice work. Um, one suggestion. In the beginning, you could remove "The date is exactly June 26, 1950. It is" and just throw in the date later (if it's necessary at all). This will add to suspense. Also, since the story is about the soldier (and not the Korean war overall, it could've taken place during any war) removing specifics such as the exact date will shift the reader's focus to the soldier (and the essence of the story).

Brooke M. said...
on Jun. 3 2009 at 11:25 pm
Wow, that sounded like something off of the History Channel! It was really good and sad at some points. But, it did give a very realistic picture of the war. It was awesome. You should keep writing too :)

aivilo SILVER said...
on Jun. 1 2009 at 2:38 pm
aivilo SILVER, Circleville, Ohio
9 articles 0 photos 22 comments
this is great!

-Peb! SILVER said...
on May. 26 2009 at 3:26 pm
-Peb! SILVER, Heber Springs, Arkansas
7 articles 3 photos 29 comments
Awesome! It was really sad, but I'm glad it had a happy ending. You need to keep writing, this is really good and I can't wait to read more! =)

starrynight said...
on May. 8 2009 at 9:14 pm
Overall, good! Especially the ending-it was a great wrap up.

I agree with miki.sweety, though, there were some parts where it sounded naive, and I also agree that when he got shot, it was a bit broken. maybe transition more naturally, because he's supposed to be thinking, but his thoughts and his voice seem like two different things, when it should be that the scream is a result of some thought.

there were also some grammatical and sentence flow issues here and there, and sometimes the tense (present/past) wasn't consistent. The introduction could also be a bit stronger and with a more mature voice. Swhat you're trying to state is a bit blunt; maybe be more subtle and make sure you know what the point of what you're writing for is: what is the message you're trying to get across?

However, it is a great story; I'm impressed!

on Apr. 30 2009 at 2:12 am
miki.sweety10, Dorchester, Massachusetts
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
Very good. Nice voice. I like it. In certain spots, the voice seemed more fitting for a teenage soldier then an adult with a daughter (for example, the "is this the way it has to be? War? Why can't we all live in peace"). Seems too naive. Or perhaps he's a very young father...

Anyway, there was some flow breakage, particularly in the getting shot part, partially because of excessive use of commas. Also, remember not to overstate things. The most beautiful part of this story for me is simplicity. Let things stay understated. ie: "There is no pain, for I am dazed."

"But I felt no pain" would be better. We can fill in the blank.

But all criticism aside, that was very good. Keep it up and good luck in getting published if you aren't already.

PK4evr ELITE said...
on Apr. 20 2009 at 12:50 am
PK4evr ELITE, Allen, Texas
105 articles 5 photos 107 comments

Favorite Quote:
When life gives you lemons, make grape juice, then watch everyone wonder how you did it!

Oh my goodness, breathtaking. Descriptive. I can't put that into words. I usually don't like to read things about war, and assuming that you have never been shot by a bullet before... that was really amazingly realistic. I would have thought that you were an experienced adult writing that! Good job!