Guttered Pride

This story represents my feeling towards being a martyr. ..

             The flag hangs pitifully from the long pole, big drops of water splashing into a puddle on the asphalt. It is December, the sky is gray, the rain is cold, and the air is bitter. But I cannot take my eyes from the sight. Every tear that the flag sheds, falls in slow motion. I see the red, white, and blue in each drop. As they hit, ripples of pride go across the large puddle that surrounds the pole. The puddle; full of martyrs, and honor, continues into a stream, heading straight for the gutter; where used gum wrappers, and cigarette butts are piled and forgotten. 

            A cold burn runs from my feet to my scalp and my hands start to tremble. After all that our grandpas, uncles and ancestors fought for, we let our prized symbol of freedom get soaked in polluted, dirty rain. I will not stand for it. I begin unraveling the slip not, and tugging on the soiled rope that holds the flag at the top. The pulleys do not budge; there is a knot at the top that is jammed in between them.

            I test the pole’s texture in the rain. It is cold, and slippery. But this sight makes me sick. The flag is helpless, the flag is stranded, and I see the flag’s colors fading. I am getting that flag down; I am saving this flag’s pride. I use the rope for a better grip. Shimmying up the flags crucifix, I think of what people will say. “He is a true patriot!” Adults will smile and nod approvingly. I will be a town hero, and I will save the respect for my country. I am half way up, and I have not looked down. But, I hear a crowd below me. Questioning murmurs of mesmerization, jumbled together; forming one naive question of, “Why’s he climbing that pole?” None of them care to keep our flag warm and dry; it is left out in a thunder storm. But is this not where all of our pride is? I feel a connection with this flag; it is a part of me. That is me up there, hanging in the rain. I am saving what is left of our pride. I can feel justice coming up my throat, a warm feeling. A feeling of satisfaction, and I will be glad to share it with the flag, I know it has not felt that in a long time.

            I am at the top, I reach for the flag. The flag is in my grip, but my other hand that is holding me from falling, has not enough strength. I look at the ground, and my body trembles. I lose all pride and only feel fear; an overwhelming fear, leaving my mind spinning and my stomach in knots. I feel my grip loosen, my self-support is not enough, and the only hope I have left, is in the flag. One-hundred and forty-five pounds of patriot, suspended twenty-five feet by an old, soggy flag, above the hard, cold surface below. I feel the flag’s love. I look one more time at the crowd’s faces; total apathy. ‘SCHRRRTCH’, I drop an inch or two; the flag is ripping. I see the seams begin to split down the middle of the stars and stripes. Threads come unwound; I felt the flag’s pain in my stomach.

            The seam shoots downwards and I am falling. The crowd is in the corner of my eye, gasping and fidgeting. Now, time has stopped and I do not feel cold anymore, I do not feel anything except that warm feeling I had in my throat, passing through my head. A stream of red, white and blue leave my body colorless on the ground. The crowd and I are the same color; a shade of gray that I have not seen before. Now, my focus turns to the flag. It has no more colors. It is white; a white dish rag symbol of freedom in my hand. I wonder; do they know why I climbed the pole? Every figure loses its definition and color, and I feel like nothing. Eye sight becomes just one bright flash before my eyes.

The End

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