"Really? You're leaving us too? I can't believe you're going to just walk out on us! After all we've done for you!"

"I'm doing this for my country mom."

"Bull crap! Let someone else do the fighting! Your only eighteen Tray, you've got your whole life ahead of you and you're just going to throw it all away for your 'country!"

"This discussion's over mom. I've already signed up. I leave in a week, maybe less. Just wanted to tell you and dad that."

"Tray...please don't go. I don't want you to end up like your brother."

I spring back into consciousness; sweat dripping down my forehead and my breathing more strained than usual. I rub my eyes and try to get the crying image of my mom out of my head. It's been several weeks since I've left home, yet my mom's crying face still haunts me.

"Hey Tray, you alright?" I look up and nod at a man about my age, a hint of worry on his face. Private Gerard Torres is the kind of guy that you'd expect to get a thrill out of fighting, out of shooting things. He's also seems like the last person to tell your problems to. Over the past two weeks I've learned that this isn't the case and that Gerard is a genuinely nice guy, the kid of guy you'd tell your fears to. Fears of home, of family and friends and of course dying.

"I'm fine. Just a bad dream."

I see him nod before lying back down. Everything's quiet again, a dead silence present in the barrack. I lie back down and stare up at the metal bars holding Gerard's bed up.

"Hey Tray."


"Why'd you join up in the Army?"

I lie there for a moment, processing what he's just asked me. No one yet had asked my why I joined up, not even Lester. "I'm not sure. I guess it's cause fighting's in my blood."

"What you mean by that?"

I lay my hands behind my head and close my eyes. "Well my grandfather served in Normandy in World War II. He was part of the paratroopers that were flown into Normandy first. His regiment managed to pull of some heroic feat and he got a few medals, including the Purple Heart." I stop speaking a bit, waiting to see if Gerard has anything to say. It is silent for a few moments before I continue speaking. "My old man served in Vietnam, got a medal for bravery under fire. And my brother..."

The barracks go quiet again. "Brother serve in Afghanistan too?" I open my eyes a bit at Gerard's remark.

"He died here." I pull myself out of bed and look over Gerard's bunk. "You had a brother that served here?"

Gerard nods, his gaze concentrated on the white ceiling above. "Two brothers actually. Oldest brother was in the armoured division and my younger brother was a sniper. Older one got killed when his tank was ambushed and my younger bro's been listed as MIA'd."

"Must have been hard on your parents huh?"

I see him shake his head. "My old man's in jail and my mom wasn't home. It was just me there, alone with those dudes who told me my only brothers died on the same day." Everything goes silent for a third tem that night before Gerard speaks again. "So I decided to join up to. My brother's found a way to get out of the hellhole we lived in without doing drugs or joining up the gang bangers in my neighborhood. Plus I don't have many options so this is basically going to be my career."

I whistle at the intensity of his speech. "Damn. You've made me feel like a total dick in five minutes."

"What do you mean?"

"I joined up here to impress my old man. When my brother left he was all-proud of him, more than he ever was to me. The day my brother died my dad didn't speak for two weeks." I shake my head and close my eyes. "I guess you could say I only thought about impressing my dad, impressing everyone back home with some elaborate story or show them my battle scars."

I frown a bit when I hear someone whisper 'shut up!' "We should probably get to sleep Tray." Gerard's voice whispers.

"Ya you're probably right. G'Night."

"Night." And just like that I'm drifting off to sleep, thoughts of everyone welcoming me back home like a hero. A hero of war.


A hero of war, ya that's what I'll be

And when I come home they'll be damn proud of me

I'll carry this flag, to the grave if I must

Cause it's a flag that I love and a flag that I trust


The End

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