I was six years old and thoroughly enjoying a day off from schoolwork. Home schooled kids can have a day off anytime they choose to work hard enough in advance to get a day ahead. During the previous week, I had temporarily overcome the slacker side of myself and had earned myself three days off. I relished every jealous glance from my brother, who had stubbornly refused to work hard with me and the sight of me coming and going and doing as I pleased was not helping him enjoy his Science project any more.
I was getting a little bored though. Silas was good company when we weren't fighting, and after a while it did seem like a shame that I should have to play all by myself when, if he hadn't been so lazy, he could be entertaining me or helping me cross the creek and "explore" on the hill beyond. I was about to go to my mother and request my playmate - or, at the very least, a snack - when she came outside to find me.
She told me to get in the car because we were going to visit a friend. We didn't have tv in our house, so Daddy wanted to watch the news on a friend's television. I don't think anyone told me why, and I didn't really care at first. It was something different to break up the monotony of the day, and whatever it was freed Silas from his studies of the rings around Saturn, so he could talk to me.
When we got to the Shellenbergers' house and gathered around their tv, I was soon bored by the grown ups' movie, and I dragged Silas away to play with the Shellenbergers' pet mouse. He was only three years older than me, but I suppose nine is a bit less oblivious than six. He explained to me that it wasn't a movie they were watching at all. I ran back to the tv when I realized that everything on that screen was really happening. The first thing I saw there was a plane flying through the air and...no...THAT couldn't have really been happening. Those things don't happen in real life...right?
"Silas, that plane just hit a building and exploded! Why? Was there something wrong with the plane?" The concept of terrorism and malice was lost on me. Silas was saying a lot of things I didn't understand, but when he started talking about the possibility of a World War Three, I had found a concept that - for whatever reason - I understood perfectly, and my confusion turned into dreadful fear. Images from books and movies I had seen about WWII began to flash through my head, and then I remembered hearing something about the president telling some men they had to go to war because we didn't have enough people to fight. My six-year-old world was spinning as I had the horrible thought that, if there was a war, my Daddy might be taken away from me - might never come back.
I ran across the room, flung myself full-force into my fathers arms, and cried myself to sleep with the sound of distant explosions in my ears, and I woke up later that evening in my bed with my teddy bear, Honey. My older sister, who I shared a bedroom with, was in bed asleep. Everyone was asleep. I was still scared, but all I knew to do was hug Honey harder and go back to sleep.