The Send-Off by Jason Damman
I was all dressed up in my new and crisp uniform. I stood looking at myself in the mirror. My head freshly shaven, my army greens clean and my boots freshly polished. A wave of pride swept over me as I stared back at myself in the mirror. I felt love for my country, I felt a growing anticipation. Linda walked in and saw my cold and emotionless face. She came up and gave me a hug from behind. As soon as I smelt that sweet scent of roses from the perfume that she wears, I began to relax. My posture relaxed and my face softened a little. A wave of sadness then came over me. Not one word was said between the two of us, we just stood there together staring at the mirror, Linda hugging me tight. I turned around and looked into her deep blue eyes. After awhile I finally spoke. ‘I will be back, I promise.' She just looked at me, a tear rolling down her soft cheek. I hugged her tight and held her firmly in my arms and I repeated to her: ‘I will be back.' Linda then let go of me, turned and left the room. I just stood there, looking into the mirror, trying not to cry, trying to be brave, and trying to be a man. I stood looking at myself for a few more minutes and then I walked over to the bedroom window. It was an overcast morning, a thick blanket of fog clinging to the city. Not much could be seen from where I stood, but the buzzing from the train station a couple of blocks away could be clearly heard. A whistle blew in the distance; I knew that the train would be boarding soon... I knew the time was drawing near. I took a deep breath and walked to my bed where my pack was waiting for me. I placed a photo of Linda in the front pocket of my pack, zipped it up and stood looking around the room, possibly for the last time. I shouldered my pack and walked out into the kitchen where Linda was silently sitting at the table with a coffee, eyes down. ‘I have to go now, I can't be late.' She looked up at me, her eyes brimming with tears. I dropped my pack where I s
tood. She stood up and I took her into my arms and hugged her tight. ‘Please don't go John' sobbed Linda. ‘Please don't leave me.' I just hugged her and picked up my pack. I stared into Linda's eyes and with a quivering voice I said ‘I have to go.' I walked out the front door, brushing tears from my face. I walked down the dark and cobbled lane, thick fog blanketing around me. I looked around at what I was off to defend. I walked alone, breathing deep, exhaling grey puffs from the frigid air. I turned a corner and was greeted by hundreds of other men, nervous smiles all round. I marched with the other men in two lines into the "siding shed" where they marked us off and marshaled us to wait. On the tracks sat a big black train, silently waiting, ready to take us to our possible deaths. As we were given orders to get onto the train, I took one last look around and prepared myself for the journey into the unknown.
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