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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Outlook (06/02/11)

TITLE: Tomorrow
By Erin Dijkema


The rough grass cut into his bear skin along his legs, covered in scratches acquired throughout the day of spontaneous squirmishes and travelling but the soft cushioning grass was a comfort to the rest of his body, his head lay in a particularly soft spot where he condensed all the long grass into a pillow. Well aware of the numerous bugs that were bound to come out on this cool, moist night, Jakeem had snuck out to enjoy the rarity of enjoying one forbidden night’s sleep outside underneath the stars. He had planned it for some time, getting to know the layout of the camp habitually and the routine of the guards were both crucial. It was difficult, and for the longest time, he had no idea why he was working so hard for this simple thing while his team and he were committing unspeakable cruel acts in an unconscious mind drugged and manipulated by their leaders with fear, anger and bribery. Jakeem and his friends had enjoyed a wide variety of American games and music, and were fed every day, much more than what their families could ever give them. But the biggest prize was the promise of protection and the ability to survive the war presently destructively rampaging across the country, killing thousands. No one wanted to die while there was no potential for anyone , people wanted to be there when the country at last could have peace to grow and enable people to rise up higher than they could possibly dream. However, the children also received daily reminders what the soldiers’ specific duties were to please the leaders’ enough to escape their fatal fury and anger. Each day, the soldiers were fuelled not only on food and water, but on the constant fear of mutilating and crushing punishment, and the promising dream of something better far along on the horizon.

But Jakeem felt increasingly more each day that there was something distinctly missing in this compound society and the regime it ran. He couldn’t figure it out, he had been drilled out of everything but. He only wanted to lie in the deep African grass under the tall massive tree and once again stare at the stars and watch as one by one they slowly fell while just as slowly his eyelids became weaker and weaker towards complete rest. He used to have the assurance that his father, mother and two sisters would be right beside him in the morning, just like any other year on a date around this time, it could be today, but the awful sights he has seen and done himself to young children, grown men and women like his beloved mother and father, have all but blurred the year into one day of hell. He does not like to relive every day, he uses drugs to lose himself beyond conscious thought, to lose all pain. But tonight, he promised he would not, just to complete this one tradition in order to save all the good memories he had with his family. Lying there, he reminisces all the wonderful and beautiful moments his family left behind for him to treasure. They were beautiful; tokens of love and expressions of what was supposed to come. This war, this violence, this very camp lacks love, lacks promise, despite what they tell him; it all lacks beauty. This is why Jakeem came out here even with all the possible dangers he could come up against. He needed the beauty one more time, he needed to remember what love was again; resisting to become a hard formed, controlled soldier for the army, he wanted to once again treasure that love who no one can recreate except if coming from the One his mother had always spoken about and prayed to. Those were serene days, days of rest and comfort, days fit to relapse in the form of multiple dreams in one of the deepest sleeps Jakeem had ever gone into since the day he was kidnapped. This was the day Jakeem got a new outlook, once again on what life really was meant to be. Tomorrow he will worry about the big purpose beyond this trip, despite the imminent and immediate danger of death he would face or the focus of cruel and strong manipulation to force him into deeper depression and anger, but for now he just rests in the peace he has not seen in the ugliness of war.

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This article has been read 347 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Kathleen Langridge06/09/11
This is a deeply moving story. It has great potential to shine a light on the plight of child soldiers that are abducted in so many counties at war.
Try reading your work out loud to learn where sentences can begin and end. I wanted to read the story so I stuck with it but several times I got lost.
You have described the feelings of the boy very well. Look into the meanings of telling versus showing. It would take this to a first place piece. Be encouraged.
Nancy Bucca06/12/11
You packed a lot into this. It sounds interesting, but is a little hard to follow. It might help to break it up into smaller paragraphs to keep the reader from getting lost in all the details.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/12/11
This is a powerful story. I enjoyed your message.
In short stories shorter paragraphs often help the reader to not feel overwhelmed. I also noticed in the beginning you used bear instead of bare.

But those are little details, you described the horror of war with vivid detail. I can only imagine to survive such sights would be to look for a better tomorrow.