Hero Of War (Part 4)

My mother and father were equally shocked when they came down for breakfast and Steven filled them both in. He recounted word for word what the broadcaster had stated, occasionally throwing in his own two cents on the situation (‘Goddamn those motherfuckers’ and other colorful phrases).

Up until that point, Sophie and I had mainly been concerned with graduating high school and making the most out of our last year together before college. We’d spent our days mostly carefree, bashing the SAT and screwing around on cheaply produced MMOs.

We’d never once imagined that our lives would be any different but as we watched my parents call hers and discusses the future of our nightmare, we knew life would never be the same again.

Her hand found mine as we returned to our seats on the couch, the controllers long forgotten between us, and listened to the conversations attempting to determine our fates. The warmth of her finger wrapped around mine did little to shield me from the cold cruelty of the world beyond our suburban lives but it was a comfort I relished regardless.

We listened to the low whispers, hearing something about the “selective service act” and Canada.

My brother’s voice was the loudest of all. “I’m not moving to Canada mid-semester.” he said. “I’m in the middle of writing my master thesis; if I leave now, I’ll lose everything!”

My father was the next to speak, equally loud in an attempt to match the conviction in my brother’s tone. “Your goddamn thesis won’t matter if you don’t have a brain to write with. If we stay here, terrorists will blow our heads off– is that what you want?”

Sophie buried her head in my shoulder. I felt her hot tears sinking through the thin flannel of my pajama shirt. Her entire body shook and I didn’t know what to do. I’d spent several minutes trying to force my hand to cooperate and comfort her.

I ran my fingers lightly through her autumn colored hair.

My eyes remained on the kill screen left stagnant on the television. The splotches of fake blood splattered across the final image of a zombie’s decaying face imprinted itself in my mind. It mesmerized me although I never really saw it. It was a reminder of the end of our peaceful– of the last few moments before the beginning of the end of everything.

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