Thursday, March 31, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Elysa and Georgia headed out to the lake to take pictures. Elysa – Georgia's aunt – was a photographer, and a good one at that. Georgia was eighteen and had never had a boyfriend. Elysa was trying to fix that. She’d been a teenager a long time ago and wanted terribly to live vicariously through her pretty young niece. There were few things worse than watching a gorgeous girl sit in low self-confidence. Elysa might not be what she used to be, but she was never lacking in confidence.
“Wow, look at that church!” Georgia gasped as they were driving. Elysa had to stop just to get a good look at it. It was tucked back behind the trees of the forest, its white paint peeling but still it stood tall and straight. Elysa parked the car on the side of the road and got out. “What are you doing?” Georgia asked nervously.
“I’m going to take pictures of you with that church in the background. Come on! It’ll be great.”
“What if we’re not allowed back there?”
“Then we’ll be asked to leave,” Elysa said obviously, already heading towards the abandoned little church. She looked over her shoulder. Georgia was still standing by the car in her short, strapless dress and cowboy boots. She was as pretty as could be and scared as a mouse. “Come on, Georgi!” She pursed her lips and came.
“There’s a graveyard behind the church,” she commented quietly.
“Sure is. Man, those are some beautiful trees!”
Georgia shook her head. Her aunt wasn’t scared of anything. She admired that. She wanted to be brave and confident like Elysa. There was a small plaque on the wall of the church that read:
Church of the Commons
Built in 1818
Rev Richard Smith.
“How long do you think it’s been abandoned?” Georgia asked.
“Don’t know. Go stand by the door, with your back against it,” Elysa instructed. Georgia slowly complied, obviously uncomfortable. “Relax, Georgi, it’s fine.”
From the very first shot, Elysa knew she had magic. Georgi was glowing. Her pictures were outstanding. “Oh, wow, girl, you’ve got it!” Georgia giggled and shook out her long, brown hair. “Sit on the doorstep for me,” her aunt said. Georgia tested the door to make sure it would take her weight and found it was solidly locked shut. She sat down but before Elysa could snap another picture, the door swung open and a tall man in dark dress clothes stepped out. Georgia sprang up and stood behind her aunt, who was dumbstruck. The man looked them over with curious eyes. After what seemed a silent eternity, the man spoke,
“Goodness, child, you must be freezing,” he shrugged out of his dress coat and reached to drape it over Georgia’s bare shoulders. When neither spoke, he continued, “You could at least say thank you.”
“Thank you,” Georgia mumbled.
“What are you ladies doing here?”
“We were just taking pictures. I’m sorry, we didn’t –”
“Pictures?” he interrupted Elysa.
“Yes, she’s a senior so we’re taking pictures.”
“Senior? How old are you, girl? You don’t look like a senior.”
“I’m eighteen,” Georgia replied quietly.
“See, a senior is an elderly person.”
“No, a senior in high school,” Elysa laughed, thinking he was playing a words with them. “We’ll leave. We didn’t know the church was still in use.”
“Of course it’s still in use.” The man sounded almost offended. “It was only built three years ago.”
Elysa and Georgia exchanged a glance. “Three years ago?” Georgia whispered.
“Yes, three years ago, in 1815.”
“Sir,” Elysa laughed, “Three years ago was 2008!”
The man sighed and looked up, “God, why do you plague me with simpletons?”
“Aunt Elysa,” Georgia whispered. “Do you think–”
“Uh-huh,” Elysa nodded. “I think he thinks it’s 1818.”
Sunday, March 13, 2011
I was fifteen years old when the unthinkable happened. I didn’t completely understand but oh, I was angry. This anger has coursed through my veins for the past two years and has only increased. I was angry that my country was being attacked. I was angry that innocent people were killed. But most of all, I was angry because three of my four older brothers and my father, deployed within one week of the catastrophe. My fourth brother deployed the next year as soon as he turned eighteen, leaving me home alone with my mother, who has wanted me to be a ballerina since the day I was born. Instead she is stuck with an angry tomboy.
My father is Major General Greene for the United States Marine Corps. He has been in the military all his life, which conversely means he has hardly been in mine. When he is at home, he wants me to behave like a princess, not like his soldier sons. He actually encourages my relationships with teenage boys. Once I wrote him that I had indeed made many male friends and that I train with them for the cross-country team at our high school. I bragged to my father that I was faster than most of them. His response was that men didn’t like women who could beat them at sports and why didn’t I try gymnastics, cheerleading, dancing, or singing instead? Things were fine before the war. He loved me for who I was. He loved that I loved sports. He loved that I was tough. But ever since the war began, he has wanted me to be soft and feminine. One would think this should be opposite; that it is right to be tougher in times of war. Apparently, that is not what General Greene thinks.
Michael is my oldest brother. He was twenty-eight when it happened. Like my father, the military is his career. He went to Annapolis to become a Marine, just like General Greene. Michael is very much like our father. He is driven and determined. He is smart and he is savvy. Michael deeply loves our family. He loves his younger brothers with a passion unparalleled. And while I know that Michael loves me, I cannot help the feeling that he is at a complete lose as to what to make of me. When I was four, Michael was gone to Annapolis and has been busy ever since. Of course Michael loves me, but he doesn’t have the slightest idea who I am.
Then there is Aaron. Aaron was killed in action a year into the war. There was a shoot out and Aaron was in the very thick of it, fighting down to his last breath. The worst part is that Michael was there. Michael and Aaron were best friends and fellow soldiers. I dare not ask to see through Michael’s eyes, engaged in a heavy fight but out of the corner of his eye seeing his brother fall, unable to go to him, forced to ignore him until the fight was over. I know there are plenty of families who lost loved ones and I know there will be plenty more to come. Aaron’s death was not original or unique in any way, only his life was.
Liam is my closest friend. He is five years older than me but he is the one who has time for me. Liam is my protector. He accepts me for who I am. He loves me for who I am. He expects nothing of me except a letter twice a week. That I am easily able to supply. I always have more than enough to tell him. The great thing about Liam is that when he writes back, it’s not just statistics and updates. Liam tells me what is going on inside of his head. He tells me the jokes and the stories the other guys tell him. He tells me the good and the bad whereas Michael and General Greene only tell me the good. Liam is a poet, a thinker. He is as capable with a gun as he is with his words. My suggestion of ambassador for him, however, was laughed straight out the door.
William has only just turned eighteen but he is on a mission to prove himself worthy of our family name. When Aaron died, William felt he had to replace Aaron on the battlefield although he could certainly never be replaced at home. William struggles to keep up with his older brothers, constantly needing to prove himself.
It has been two years now since the beginning of the war. I have not seen my brothers or father in eight months. My mother takes anti-depressants and sleeping pills to deal with the pain of losing Aaron and the loneliness of having most of her family overseas. How do I deal with my pain? Great question. I didn’t join the army – I formed one. We’re not particularly violent but we are passionate. We are the people who support the war. We are the people who have lost and yet know that we must press on or be forever decimated. Fight and fight hard. Everything is a fight.
I don’t know when or if my family is ever coming home. I don’t know if my mother can make it another year before she loses her mind. I’m not sure about the motives and reasoning behind this war. I’m not sure of the “greater, immortal value.” The one thing I know for sure is this: God – if he exists – does not care about me. Of this I am certain. I have no doubt in my mind that God does not care. I have all the evidence I need to stand up and proclaim that. There was only one piece of evidence I needed and it happened on September 11, 2001. Case closed.