I look down at the teenage girl who is sitting at my feet. Her gray, blue eyes sparkle with mischievous longing. If that wasn't enough to tell me she was up to something, her guilty face did. I sigh, it was look I had seen far too often on her father, a look that told me to run for the hills. Unfortunately I do not have that option, so I nod for her to continue and brace myself for whatever has popped into that pretty, amber head of hers.
"Mom, what happened to dad?" she asks.
I choke, out of all the things I thought she would ask I never expected her to ask that, I never do. It takes me a while to respond because of my shock but fortunately (or unfortunately) I already know what to say.
"I told you, I will tell you when you are older."
"Mom I'm fifteen years old. Tell me!" My daughter whines
"No, maybe next year." I say adamantly. I hope that will be the end of it but my hopes are futile.
"That's what you said last year, and the year before that, and before that!" I try to interrupt but I do not get the chance. "Also since you do not have a birthday present for me, I want to know!"
I am trapped, and she knows it. I sigh deeply. I don't want to do this, but she does deserve to know.
"Okay, you win but it is a long story. I only know my side of it, plus a few pieces that he told me. I guess I start where it began for me. It was World War II. Everyone was fighting now that Perl Harbor had been bombed. I decided I want to be part of the war as well, but back then the only job a woman could do was nursing. We both know I'm not nurse material and besides all the hospitals weren't anywhere close to the battle. I was a thrill seeker back then and where was the action in helping a bunch of men back to health? No, I decided if I was going to serve in this war I would do it in the front lines as a solder."
"Wait, wait! Are you telling me that you became a solder? How?" My child's voice filled with aw and amazement.
I chuckle slightly. I could feel the thrill I had when I started my journey sixteen years ago. Maybe this retelling won't be so awful after all.
"Yes I became a solder. I got forms, had a doctor fill them out unknowingly, and then snuck into an army base. It was surprisingly easy actually." I pause and look at her. A tiny, wistful smile is on her face. I frown, apparently the brat inherited more from me then I thought. That is a trait I will not be encouraging though. "Although I wouldn't ever suggest you doing it. In fact if you ever even think about doing something that stupid I will make you regret it. Nothing the marines could ever do would compare to what I would do to you."
"But mom, you did it!" Her wistful smile is now gone, replaced by fierce determination.
"Yes I did it and I was a fool. If you be quiet and let me continue you will see why."
This silences her right away. It's ironic; a few minutes ago I had no desire to tell the story, and now the only thing that might keep her from doing something stupid is telling her it.
"Anyway where was I? Oh yes, me sneaking into a military base. They accepted me without question. Why would they question though? All my papers were in order and I just made it looked like I had been transferred from another base. I was quickly shown my barracks and got into army life.
Sixteen Years Before
It was thoroughly brutal. A normal day started around four in the morning and didn't end until one in the morning. The beds were the equivalent of sleeping on the floor, and the food wasn't fit for a dog, much less a human. The military drills were enough to bring any man to his knees. You can only imagine what it did to me.
I was the shortest in stature and in frame. This made me the outsider, the weak link. Almost everyone talked to me with snide. I was also famous for being a punching bag. I never fought back, there was no reason to. I took it all in stride but every person has there breaking point and I had finally had enough. I had decided that there was absolutely no glory in the army, and the first chance I got I was getting the hell out of there. So with this knowledge in my head I decided to go through the drills like normal but that day something new was added to the list. When we got to the shooting round I found out something great. They were going to be trying us out on stealth guns.
The day went by very quickly. Most of the other guys didn't stand a chance and probably had never shot a gun before coming here. There was one who stood out though. He had just come in the day before and bunked over top of me but I didn't know him. He was good, no correction not good, amazing. I had only seen a handful of people, who could shoot that good, and they usually couldn't do it all of the time, but the weird thing is he did it with his left arm.
By the time he was done it was obvious he had been accepted and I was nervous. I had thought that I would be at the top of the list but now I wasn't so sure. Then out of nowhere I decided I wasn't going to let that happen. I had been at the bottom ever since I got there and that wasn't going to happen again. I knew that I probably wouldn't beat him but I was going to damn well try.
Finally it was my turn. At the time I didn't notice anything except my targets but now I remember them, all of them jeering at me, all except him. They all thought it was a waste of time for me even to try out, even the CO did but I was about to prove them wrong. I took my first shot and they stopped laughing, the second shot they stopped talking, and the third shot shocked them all. By the time I was done I had finally earned what I had wanted all along, respect. I didn't beat the mystery sniper but that didn't matter. I had beaten everyone else and was now officially a marksman.
That night was pure bliss. I was able to relax without the worry that someone was going to bother me. I ate in peace, worked in peace and even managed to read a little in peace but all good things come to an end. I was about to stop reading when James, one of the brutes that always bothered me walked up to my bunk.
"Hay boys, get a look at this." He said, "Our big, bad sniper finally gets some free time and he's wasting it by reading a book."
I just ignored him, hopping my luck would hold through, but of course it didn't. He ripped it right out of my hands and began to look at it.
"What the hell is this? What solder would read something called The King of Elfland's Daughter?"
By now we had attracted a crowd and they were laughing. I was getting pissed.
"I do. Now give it back." I said.
They laughed even harder now but for some reason this did not bother me and I was extremely calm.
"You're a pansy, your one of those fucking homosexuals!"
"How do you get homosexual out of reading a book?" I was no longer calm. In a weird way he hit a little too close to home.
"It's not just the book. Your weak, your small, and you never fight us. You're a pansy."
He was connecting the dots but not surprisingly he had come to the wrong conclusion. I think if he ever found out how close he came that day to find out my secret he would have kittens.
"Look you unscrupulous prick those can all be explained. I like to read books because I have a college education. I'm weak because I never have done anything this strenuous before. I am small because I inherited my grandmother's genes, she was 4'5 and I don't fight you people because it is not worth it. Now get off of whatever train your riding because I am not homosexual."
"That may all be true but you never look at any magazines like the rest of us normal guys. Why else would that be, unless your gay?"
He was right, I didn't ever look at those filthy things. Why would any girl? All of the stuff I had said before had been true, so the answers came easily to me but now I was going to have to flat out lie. I had to find a suitable excuse and this caused me to pause. I knew that pause did me in.
"See I knew it, you are! I'm going to kill you, you freak!"
He grabbed me forcibly, and was about to hit me when he was pushed away. I looked and was surprised to see who came to my defense, it was that sniper.
"Look you prick, I don't look at that stuff either but that doesn't make me gay. I do it because God would see it as a sin. I'm sure that's the same reason why he doesn't either, right?"
"Yes." I reply automatically.
"Look, whatever your name is,"
"Right, Daniel that little pansy isn't worth your trouble. The only reason why they have kept him here is because he's fodder. Now why don't you step out of the way so I can beat the hell out of the little shit."
"That's where you are wrong. He rivals me when it comes to a rifle. This country can't lose a shot like that over something this stupid. If you plan to fight him you are going to fight me."
That's when all hell broke loose. James didn't even give him a chance to blink before he punched him. Daniel wasn't startled though and he punched right back. Daniel was winning to when one of James thugs came up behind him and decked him. I of course couldn't stand by and just allow this guy to fight for me. So I broke my vow of pacifism and decked him. Surprisingly enough I knocked him to the ground. Still bearing the element of surprise I made my way over to James and punched him. This gave me time to help Daniel.
"I was wondering when you were going to get in this." he said with a devilish grin.
"What can I say, I don't believe in violence."
"Then you are in the wrong place."
"No I'm in the right place. I said I don't believe in violence, but sometimes it is necessary. Besides I couldn't just let those two use you as a punching bag on my behalf."
"Yeah, thanks but... watch out!"
Is warning came too late though because James's fist collided with my face. This put us both into action again. We worked like a team, like we had been fighting beside each other all our lives. Unfortunately three more guys decided to join in the fun and we knew defeat was inevitable. I could hear Daniel praying between punches, and God must have heard him because then the officers came in and broke us up. Although I now I don't know what I would have rather happened because James beating me to death seemed a mercy compared to what we had in store for us.
It had been forty eight hours of torture. We had done everything to military pushups to KP duty with no sleep and now we were cleaning the barracks with are toothbrushes. I guess the only good thing was that we weren't stuck with James. They had more torture then us because it had been five against two.
"You know cleaning the floor with my toothbrush was not what I had in mind when I joined the army." Daniel said.
"Me neither. I'm just glad I brought extra toothbrushes but; I had thought I would be serving my country in a productive manner and I would do something exciting. This is sorely lacking on both counts."
"In a hurry to die?"
"Nope, I just want to do something worthwhile. Stopping the Nazis from throwing us into a world of oppression and tyranny seemed to fall under that category." He whistled after I stopped speaking.
"Wow you sure do speak a mouthful don't you?"
I glared at him, I didn't think there was anything wrong with how I spoke.
"What's wrong with how I speak?"
"Noth'n you're just really long winded and I'm not used to hearing all that long speech stuff. But are you sure you're in the right place. You sound like you'd be better off as a politician."
I scrunched up my face. The idea of anyone comparing me to those crooks was appalling.
"I would never make it in politics. It doesn't have a place for my kind in it."
"What kind would that be?"
I paused for a minute I couldn't tell him the truth, so I would have to settle for the next best thing.
"The kind that is not willing to lie to sway people over."
"Makes since, though I thought for a minute there you were going to say something else."
I looked back up at him sharply. I couldn't believe it! Could he be implying that I was going to admit I was gay?
"Just exactly what are you implying Daniel?"
"Common Antony," that was the name I was called in here, "You don't have to lie to me about something like that. I may not agree with it but I will accept it."
"Dammit Daniel! I'm not gay, I have never been gay, and I never will be gay! Where do you get off on calling me that?"
"I may not have been here very long but I have picked up on a few things."
"Every time any of the guys mention anything about sex or women you start blushing and get all flustered, just like a girl. That's not how normal guys respond to these types of things. In fact you're doing it right now."
He was right of course. These topics did always make me embarrassed but it was because I was a girl.
"Look there's more to me than meets the eye okay. There's more to my story that you don't know. But I am not gay so please drop it."
"Just tell me alright. This game is becoming stupid."
I took a deep breath, I knew he wasn't going to give up without an answer so I decided to give him a partial truth.
"If you tell anyone I will kill you, understood?" I whispered to him. He nodded in confirmation and I continued, "Alright the reasons why I act like a blushing virgin every time you guys bring the topic of sex up is because I am one. There are you happy?"
His mouth dropped open in shock, until I told him to shut it.
"You're joking right? You're not really a virgin are you?" he asked when he regained his senses.
"Yes I am, now will you please drop it?"
"Wow, I never expected that." He whispered.
I was blessed by silence for a few minutes until I looked up at him. He had a look on his face that I would later tell me it was time to run far, far away. But I didn't know that at the time so I opened my big mouth.
"Alright you have something on your mind. What is it?"
He cracked a grin and then I knew I was in trouble.
"So why are you still a virgin?"
I coughed slightly and tried to ignore him but it was impossible.
"Daniel drop it now."
"Common just tell me and get it over with."
I glared at him but decided to tell him anyway.
"Alright, there are two reasons. One is because it says not to have sex until marriage."
"And the second one?" he said tauntingly.
"Shut up. The second one was because there was no one around where I lived worth doing that with."
He nodded slightly in acceptance.
"Alright I'll buy that."
"Good cause if you didn't you would be tough out of luck."
"So does this mean were friends now?"
"I guess so and seeing how you know too much it wouldn't be safe to say otherwise. I would have to kill you and that would be a waste of talent."
"Oh it's all about my ability to use a gun is it?"
"You know it is. Besides you would have never stepped in if it hadn't been because of mine."
There was a moment of awkward silence and I was starting to regret my words but he spoke up again.
"That's not true. I would have done it anyway."
"Don't mention it. You would have done the same for me."
"Yeah I would have."
"Besides we both need someone to have our six."
I rolled my eyes slightly, "Were in the marines, not the air force; and to think you said I speak weird. At least what I say is original and eloquent."
"There you go again! Do you always have to have the last word in everything, and does your last word always have to be one I don't know?"
"Yes and yes. Also eloquent means "having or exercising the power of fluent, forceful, and appropriate speech"."
"There you go again! You're worse than a woman!"
"It wasn't meant to be a compliment."
"Thank you anyway."
Back to present
After that day we were inseparable and he was right we did have each other's six. I can honestly say I never had a better friend, even though the prat was always getting us into trouble. I don't think a week went by that we weren't doing KP or scrubbing the floor with our toothbrushes but it was bearable because we had each other.
"You fell in love with him didn't you mom?"
"At first I didn't know what I felt but yes I did fall in love with him. It caused a lot of problems for me to. I almost blew my cover several times."
"But you didn't did you?"
"No I didn't."
"Well what happened? Is Daniel my dad?"
"I can't tell you that or it would ruin the story."
"Well, continue on with it please."
"No its time for you to get some sleep, you have school tomorrow."
"But mom, there is no way I will get to sleep now!"
"Bed now or no story."
"Alright, alright I'm going."
I watch as my little girl sulks out of the room. It's almost laughable at how much like him, she looks right now. My heart aches slightly at the thought.
It's been sixteen years since he took his final breath in my arms. Sixteen years and yet it feels like it happened yesterday but some days it seems like an eternity ago. Oh how I wish I could turn back the hands of time to see his face again, to hear his laugh, or to hold him once again. I would give almost anything to be able to have that one passionate night last forever. One night. It seems so unfair that, that's I all I got with my only love. One night after having him right in front of me for months, yet I was unable to touch him. One night after months of being deprived of his presence. One night only to have him ripped from my arms by the perils of war. One night, one small taste of the fruit of love is all I got. It was just enough to make me long for more for the rest of my life. But I suppose I am lucky. I could have never gotten the chance. If I hadn't, how truly lonely I would be? Now that I think about it I did get more than one night. I have more than memories. He left more behind then that, he gave me our daughter and in her he left a piece of himself.
AN: Alright I hope this story is actually good. Please review. I don't care if they are flames. I really want to know how to make this story better. And what better way is there to do that then getting tips from your peers? Also I am not sure if this is going to be a one shot or not it all depended on if I get some ideas or not.