Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Twilight Years of Life (07/02/09)
TITLE: The Last One Left Standing
By Janeil Harricharan
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Every July 4th weekend I go see his grave at Arlington. Annie used to go with me, but when she died back in 1990, I’ve been coming here myself. That’s how it should have been. It was business between Joe and me; she’d never understand, alive or dead.
I still remember what happened as clear as day. It had been a month before Pearl Harbor, American squadrons were in the Europe theatre helping the Brits out. We got assignment changes, Joe got sent back to the other side of the globe. Then we never heard back from him, we feared the worst, and found out two years later he died at Pearl Harbor.
I should have kept my boys together. We were all like brothers to each other, no matter how different we seemed. Alan, Patrick, they all cared, despite the hard shell that covered them thanks to the Zekes and Krauts.
I laid a small bunch of flowers down on the grave, and stared at it. The poor kid was just 19. I was in my mid eighties, wondering if I’d make it another day. I could still walk as good as any old person, but this old warhorse had his doubts.
“It’ll be over 70 years today, Joe.” I knew he couldn’t hear. “Alan died in his sleep in October of last year. I guess I’m the only one still around.”
I got up, slowly shuffling away. I didn’t feel worthy in this world anymore. I was too old, too tired. My memories had slowly begun to die as my squadmates, my wife, and the people that I loved slip away and die, leaving me the only standing one left. It was lonely. Very much so.
But I wouldn’t quit, not just yet. World War II just seemed like yesterday. I may not be able to bring people back, but I could let people know about them. And from what someone told me a long time ago, I’d better do it in a hurry before time runs out.
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