She says she studied at Yale, but it’s so hard to believe her when I remember it so vividly.
I met Kodi just a few months back. She was sitting in a café with a copy of Lord of the Rings on her table – or was that me? I was wearing a bright purple sweater and I approached her and took the book of the table while I made a joke about never having heard about it. I’m not really sure if it was a joke. And I’m not really sure if it was me or her that said it.
“Tolkien, what a strange name.”
It’s confusing, this amalgam in my head. There’s somewhere a dent in the conversation.
They wanted him to be a good Christian and it’s my fault that they failed.
It’s my fault that they are dead.
The suicide was obvious, the evidence clear. But the police never figured out his motives.
I know the motives.
I know the meaning of his scribbled message, the message that no fourteen year old should leave before he pushes a shotgun against his head.
“Save yourselves now. Join us in heaven before it is too late.”
The police thought he had gone insane; that he had brought them down into the bunker and that he shot them there for a personal reason that only seems significant for a fourteen year old. Maybe bullying or parental pressure or a punishment he thought unfair.
I always admired my grandfather’s courage. He had fought in the war on what we nowadays think of as the wrong side, but he had never been a believer in the cause. Sometimes a rifle is pressed in your hand and your choice is either to fire and worry about being shot from the front, or not to fire and be sure that you’ll be shot from behind.
He was young when he was drafted, barely 16. Before he left he gave his first kiss and a promise to a girl. She waited five years until the end of the war, surviving on just five or six letters that she kept as treasure.
The war ended but even the defeat was celebrated. Not openly, but in the hearts and eyes of the people. People never wage war, it is politicians that wage war. No soldier that ever stood in the line of a rifle believes that war is heroic, only those divorced from reality, those that sit in tidy offices, those dream of war.
Soldiers came home with thin bodies and bandaged limbs. They hugged their wives and women before they fell onto beds and relived the front in dreams that made them toss and turn and wake up from their own screams.
His girl watched with tears in her eyes while her sister and mother each welcomed their men home. She heard the men scream at night and each scream lodged a stone in her throat. She prayed that the man she had kissed did not have to scream and then she prayed that the man she had kissed was alive enough to scream. Then she prayed for forgiveness for her selfishness. Continue reading →
They just came, without question, every night – as if they had always been there. I don’t remember when the nightmares started.
My daily life was normal, average, boring. I went to school. I learned pointless things about the world and the past world. I had friends that I met after school. But I dreaded the nights.
The nights were always the same. Someone slapping me; cutting me; pulling me up on my arms until my muscles started to scream in pain; raped me.
Those nights, the more I think back the longer they seem to go back. The nightmares were just always there, just like my normal life was. The nightmares, filled with nothing except pain and fear and sometimes a TV running in the background. Continue reading →
Marvyn stumbled into the sandpit while his sister still sat on the stones, unsure what to make of the yellow material in front of her. That day, in early March, I saw the boy for the first time. He was older than most of the other kids, maybe eleven or twelve. his t-shirt and jeans had holes.A paper hat sat slanted on his dirty blond hair.
The boy just stood at the other end of the playground, staring towards the sand and sometimes at the other kids. I remember thinking that he must be cold.
It was Anne’s first time at the playground, at least she wouldn’t remember the first time. For Marvyn it was the first time in a few months – and he was accordingly excited. Marvyn was five. Anne was only one. Continue reading →