A Peaceful Existence Shattered
Two towers of glass jutted above the skyline, shining obelisks of American prosperity. There was never a need to think about what the sky would look like without them; they were always there. For decades they stood, symbols of man’s desire for wealth, man’s innate need to create something larger than himself, man’s contempt for gravity and the bounds of this earth. As markets rose and fell, as dictators rose and fell, the towers remained, a constant reminder of America’s place in the world. Until one day. Before anyone could realize what had happened, they were gone.
“Oh, Davey, why do you have to do this to me?”
“I’ll be fine, Mom. I’m a smart kid, you know? I’ll keep myself safe. Besides, it’s the right thing to do.”
“But what about college?” the woman asked. She tugged on the cuff of her green sweater nervously. “You just started, and it was going so well!”
“I know, Mom,” the young man, a tall lanky kid with light brown hair named David Drake, replied. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees as he spoke calmly and slowly. “I’ve been thinking about this, and I really just feel a need, not just a want, a need to join the military. I have to serve my country when it needs it most, right now, or else I won’t be able to sleep at night. And the school thing…I’ll get training in the military, they’ll pay for school…it won’t get in the way of anything. It will only help me in the future.”
David’s mom sat silently for a long pause, breathing heavily. Tears welled in her eyes as she eventually looked up at her son. “I know you have to go,” she choked out between sobs. “Stay safe. I love you.”
“I love you too, Mom.”
David Drake sat in the front passenger side of an armored vehicle as it bumped down a beaten dirt path in the Kabul province. He stared across the expansive desert terrain as he tried to remain vigilant in this hostile territory. Even as he scanned for potential threats, though, he could not stop the images repeating in his head. He had been in Afghanistan for five months and had already had three confirmed kills. For a kid who had never even been in a real fight before joining the Army, the images of fallen enemy combatants, dead of his hands, imprinted starkly on his memory.
Up ahead, David saw a section of road with a divot and some burn marks, indicating that it had recently been subject to an Improvised Explosive Device, IED, the official term for a roadside bomb.
Dealing with IEDs was simply part of the day to day life in this war, and David had learned to be cognizant of the risk, but resist the urge to be paralyzed with fear.
“Careful,” David said, motioning to the divot. “We might have some roadies coming up.”
“Roger,” the driver, a young lieutenant replied. “Course, after they set one off, they probably swept the area.”
After hearing that minute noise, David whipped his head around to the lieutenant.
Before a noise could escape his chest, David watched as an explosion ripped through the Hummer, sending shrapnel and fuselage through the driver.