Back in Berlin. General Calrissian is tense about something. It makes me wish we were still working together. You always seemed to read him better than I.
It makes me miss the Academy. Memories of that day when Calrissian showed up at our front door one day after school wearing his uniform. I was told to take the dog for a walk. When I came back, Calrissian was sitting in the kitchen, my mother was crying on my father’s shoulder. My father looked at me and smiled. He placed his calloused hands on my shoulder. “Son, Uranium City is no place for a child. You’re gonna be a man soon. Now the General here says there’s a military academy you’ve won a scholarship to where they can get you a great education. With an education, you don’t gotta be a miner like your pop. Make us proud son.” My mother hugged me. I didn’t understand that it would be the last time I would see my father. Isn’t it always that way?
Mom later told me that my father knew he had leukemia from excessive radiation exposure in the mines, that he had sent my application to that “military academy.”
Two months later, the letter that my father was in the hospital with influenza. Two days later the news that he had developed pneumonia. A hurried leave granted home only to be greeted at the bus stop by my neighbor. Silence. Stomach heavy, I entered the home with the shades drawn. My mother looked up and ran to embrace me, stumbling on the upturned edge of the carpet. A sickening crunch we are all now too familiar with. Her sobs mixing with her cries of pain, clutching her wrist, my father dead in their bed, the neighbors rushing to help her up, the dog barking, the priest, the candles.
The Academy was my new home. The discipline of chess. Reading Plato. Ten kilometer hikes with 15 kilo packs.
Remember when we stayed up all night breaking down and reassembling our rifles, just so we’d get the record time?
Simpler times. I used to laugh about the old Commandos. I used to think they had grown soft. When Carling urged restraint in ethics class, I could sometimes not contain my rage… How many times was I forced to do push ups in class until I collapsed?
Remember the time I sang “O Canada” to the tune of “Oh Tannenbaum” at the Christmas party? They made me run barefoot through the snow. You brought me leftovers from the buffet that night as I lay shivering and hungry in my bunk.
Listen to me! Now I’m the sentimental one!
Berlin does that to me.
Oh, thanks for the tea. It’s excellent.