Live Forever, a short story by CWat. Date added: 2010-08-16. Times viewed: 1803.
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- Intro: A short narrative about a young man at home during a war.
It was a strange day in early autumn. People went about their business packing their cars up, but with one eye always looking up at the sky. Some people would even stop to look up. There was never anything there and I didn’t understand why they were doing this. The news hadn’t reported anything about the sky and my parents never said a thing. School, strangely, was closed that day. The gates were locked and no cars were in the parking lot. It was a Tuesday. My room was empty. I could have sworn there had been piles of books and clothes around it, but it was spotless. I sat on my bed staring at my blank blue wall. Hadn’t there been a picture of a fighter plane there once? My computer was gone as well. I walked down the stairs and found my mom packing kitchen ware into boxes.
“What’s going on, mom?” I asked.
“Just pack up, hun. Everything is going to be fine.” She answered as she hurriedly packed spoons into a box. There was a frantic tremble in her voice and her hands shook when she wasn’t holding a spoon.
“All the stuff in my room is gone.” Nothing was making sense. There had been nothing wrong the day before but now things were starting to get crazy.
“O yes, I forgot. We already packed your things for you while you were at school.”
“School is closed, mom.” She dropped a plate on the ground and it shattered.
“Did they say why?” It was almost mechanical the way she said it.
“No. They didn’t…” My thoughts trailed off and she merely stared at me.
“Look, hun. We’re going to go live with your Uncle Derek for a while.” She was saying, her head now turned toward the broken plate.
“Does this have anything to do with Mike? Look mom its-”
“Don’t you say anything to me about your brother!” She screamed and dropped another plate. Enough was enough and I walked out of the house into the street.
Mike had been a good guy and well liked. He graduated with honors and was elected as prom king. I secretly despised him. He was everything I wasn’t and all in a good way. Shortly after he graduated he was drafted. I was lucky enough to enroll into college before the draft could pluck me. This was something I secretly regretted. I was going to try to major in politics so that I could contribute to the stopping of this war and there was Mike, pulled into the stopping of the war. He wanted to be a writer. Often times he would seclude himself from everyone during the weekends and write poetry or stories which he would then end up throwing away. It had been two years since he left and seven years since the beginning of the war.
The streets were packed with boxes outside of every ones’ homes. People were hurrying back and forth loading up their cars and trucks with as many of the boxes as they could. Children stood crying because their parents wouldn’t tell them what was going on. I walked down the street to a little store ran by an Arab. I didn’t know him well, but his prices on candy were the best. He wasn’t acting like the others. He just sat behind his desk reading the newspaper. I took a glance at the headlines and there was nothing suggesting what was going on as it was a week old issue. Did everyone else know something that I didn’t? I tossed a chocolate bar onto the counter and placed a couple of dollar bills on it. He merely smirked at me as I turned around and walked out the door. I placed the bar into my jacket pocket and felt a piece of paper that had been there the night before. I knew what it was and didn’t care about it now.
I walked up the hill that shadowed my neighborhood in the morning. The streets were littered with packing paper and empty boxes. It was three in the afternoon and there weren’t even children running around now. A car drove by going way over the speed limit with a truck following it at the same speed. I stopped for a second and listened to their roaring engines and screeching wheels fade into the distance. I started walking up the hill again and saw what looked like the remnants of a cradle in someone’s drive way. It struck me odd that someone wouldn’t take their baby’s cradle with them.
I remember about a year ago receiving a letter from Mike. He talked about what he was doing and where he was, which had a black bar over it because it must have been thought as classified. He said that he witnessed a bomb go off that was in a building and that building nearly fell on him and his friends. He wrote that it was one of the most terrifying and exciting things that has happened, aside from the fierce fighting that he was subjected to. He said that he almost enjoyed himself over there.
I couldn’t help but enjoy myself as I walked up the abandoned streets. A dog was barking some distance away and a cat scurried across a lawn to the back of someone’s house. I reached the top of the hill quicker than I thought I would have. I was expecting to run into someone I knew and spend the rest of the day with them, but this was not the case. I turned off the street and walked slowly across a small field. The grass tickled my exposed shins, my shorts just stopping below the knee. There was a line of trees at the end of the field and I could only imagine how many of these my brother had seen and how many of those times something was shooting at him.
I made my way through the trees and noticed that the birds had remained unchanged. They still chirped and fluttered around carelessly. O how I envied them. Beyond the trees was a small patch of grass that over looked my neighborhood and the ocean beyond it. The cool sea air blew against my face and I sat down with my back against a tree. The branches were still in the breeze, unwilling to make a noise and ruin this moment. The only thing that could be heard was the distant barking of some confused dog. I fell asleep.
I woke up later to find things unchanged. The same dog was barking and the wind still blew soundlessly. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the piece of paper. It was two pieces of paper stapled to each other. On one was scribbled writing and the other typed. I looked at the scribbled one. “’Fight for freedom’ they said”, “’See the world’ they said”, “’Be the best’ they said”, “’Live forever’ they said”. It was my brothers hand writing. There was reddish, almost brown now, stain on it. They almost looked like droplets. I folded the paper over and looked at the other one. I skimmed through to where it said “I am sorry to inform you that Michael Scheer has been killed in action. He was brave man…” The letter rambled on about the things he did and how he would be missed. I tossed the letter aside.
“Fight for freedom.” I scoffed. I felt guilty. On several occasions I almost enlisted to do that very thing. “See the world. Ha. Yeah, and have it shoot back at you.” I took the candy bar out of my pocket and started to unpeel it. There was flash of light and I was blinded for a second. I looked up only to see a red and brown cloud forming just before the horizon. There was another flash to the south and another to the north. Clouds that vaguely resembled that shape of a mushroom began to form all around. There was a strong breeze now. It felt warm and good against my skin.
My eyes began to burn and the chocolate in my hand got soft. It was too hot. I took off my jacket. My skin burned. My arm felt like it was falling apart. I rubbed it to see if that would stop it. My skin fell off. Everything was going blurry.
“Live forever.” I mocked.
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