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Hacktreks 2

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Lifestyles 1
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The International Writers Magazine
:About a soldier and father

Loving and Leaving
Gemma Williams is left behind

I ducked into his gleaming car, which shone like a glass of red wine on a sundrenched day. As I settled into the secure passenger seat for the usual "How was your day?" chat, he turned to me. A face so often lit up with laughter, was painted black, not a trace of a smile on his mouth or softness in his eyes. A few moments of silence then he said it: Ten days.

Ten days turned to nine, nine became eight and soon it was ‘The Day’.

The drive there was agonizingly silent. Soft melodies droned in the background but I couldn’t hear them. I am sure we must have tried to chat, but I can’t recall it. The only sound worth my attention was his profound breath inhaling and exhaling, as I tried not to contemplate the fact that this could be the last time I would hear that comforting sound. The drive could not have been more than an hour, but I am sure I sat in that car for an eternity, as it wound it’s way towards the inevitable, torturing my mind with possibilities,.
It was a small, sterilized space, echoing of a hospital room. That meagre place, so plain, so ordinary would be the room to take my father from me. This room should be grand; massive pillars reaching to ancient Gods, plain chairs should be covered in exotic material, the dusty floor coated in gold; the room should have at least equalled the immensity of that moment, the enormity of my father being stolen from us.
An information board flashed, telling us ‘The Plane’ was on time, due any moment. It flashed at us jovially, as if it were a flight to a holiday destination, as if we should be happy that the flight to take him away from us was on time. The room was filled with whispers, no one daring to speak fully- as if our voices may anger some dragon of fate.
The plane was tiny, appearing to my sodden eyes as a toy plane- but this was far from a boy’s game of soldiers. Men and women clothed in desert combats came piling in - a muddle of grimy beige, dirty browns and ill boding cream – skin looking worn and tired, eyes giving the impression of a soul somewhat diluted, carrying with their heavy bags a sense of those who did not, could not return. I tried to be glad for the families they were returning to, for the freedom they were being granted again; but I as I hugged and kissed my dad goodbye I was overcome with a selfish sense of wishing one of them could go back in his place.
I watched with a mixture of inspiring awe and heart breaking misery as my father shot us a false yet reassuring smile and walked away, courageous as ever, laden with heavy baggage to the unavoidable unknown.
I kept hoping maybe it was all a big joke, a big mistake… any minute now dad would run back out towards us, smiling, and we would go home together and continue to do all the little things we contented ourselves with, oblivious. But we walked out that door and got in the car just the three of us, stifled tears stinging because they wanted to flow wildly; to exclaim to the world the great injustice done, but we had to be brave for each other, our hero being gone.
So we drove back through those winding roads towards the empty shell of our home, while he flew out ‘There’.
Afghanistan, the word reverberated throughout my soul, haunting my dreams and my waking thoughts, shaking me with terror and apprehension to my core. Afghanistan.
© Gemma Williams December 6th 2004
Gemma is a Creative Writing Student at Portsmouth University – This is a true story



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