The following is a short story inspired from an excerpt from the memoir Sergeant Nibley, Ph.D by Alex Nibley:
“The father was holding the hand of a boy about 10 years old and speaking to him softly; the boy was fighting his tears. The father pointed to the sky, stroked his head and seemed to explain something to him.”
“We are soldiers. The biggest battle you’ll ever face starts now.”
That’s how his father saw his own life to be: a never-ending battle that held both victories and failures. He was intent on passing this on to the small being he held in his hands.
His little being; wrapped securely in newly purchased blankets to ensure his surefire comfort. His belly rose and fell with each of his tiny breathes. A pouted lower lip and a small, pudgy nose: all enveloped by rosy milk skin. How were they worthy of owning—of creating, this masterpiece? A small smile played the fathers lips. Pride overcame his emotions. This was certainly his dearest victory.
He quickly raised his forehead to his lips, as if every moment spent not giving him his admiration was worthless. After all, this being made his everything worth it.
“We are soldiers.”
“No, dad!” He peered from under his favourite blanket, barely visible as he lay beneath a pillow fort. “I’m a superhero with a side kick and look— my cape. I can fly with the cape to be super fast and catch the thieves before they steal my stuff!” The boy’s eyes shone with delight, eager to challenge his father as his mind grew along with his body and soul. Nowadays, he was curious. He poked, he prodded, he touched, he tasted, he smelled, he listened; as if any moment not spent discovering this miraculous world around him was worthless.
His father’s expression softened. His cheeks were imprinted with delicate, almost unnoticeable laugh lines. The father admired them; they shouted to the world that he was, indeed, blissful. Who wouldn’t be— with a miracle like his son to love, to hold, to experience?
“You are a soldier.”
“No, dad.” The boy shook his head. “I’m really not. We’re really not.” He stood frigid. He was looking nowhere. Like the other numerous bodies around him, he looked pale. His ill, thin body shivered in the heat coming from ahead. His hands, like his fathers’, stood limp at his sides. His shoulders drooped. His brows were constantly furrowed; his eyes constantly vanquished.
“Shush, son, and listen to me,” He had not the effort to smile. He had not the effort to fabricate the present from his child.
“They are thieves. They seek the valuable. They seek to take your superhero— stomp all over it. They are heartless.” His father pointed to the sky and stroked the head of his frail, dearest, victory.
“But if that superhero can fly all the way up there, they can not stomp on him.”