Archive for May 10th, 2011

10th May
2011
written by amber

The Medal

Just when I thought all the shit had died down, now they want to give me a damn medal. No one will understand that I don’t want it – not my parents, not my girlfriend, not even my buddies. Shit, any one of them could have been the hero. Why did it have to be me?

We were going to meet at our bunker, a half-buried cabin in the woods where we go to drink , no one knew it was there. I could leave from behind my house and walk there in 20 minutes, tops. The other guys came by quads from the highway. But it took me a long time that day. I had no idea why, but the forest was full of people wearing bright vests, moving through the trees in formation, calling out, “Lucy! Lucy!”

I had to take a long detour to avoid them. And when I got to the cabin, the branches had already been moved away from the door, so I rushed in, ready to tell my buddies about all the activity in the woods, suggest we move our party to Mike’s garage, disguise the cabin or else it’d be attracting all kinds of attention we didn’t want. The door was slightly open, but the only person inside was a little girl. Her clothing was ragged and dirty, she was crying. She’d popped open a beer can and she was drinking it, but she put it down guiltily when I walked in.

“Lucy?”

She nodded. So suddenly, I was a hero.

At first it was great. My folks, Dad especially, got all proud of me. The interviews made me kind of nervous, and the way the TV people made me clean up my act before going on that show, wear new clothing they’d bought, get shaved and even manicured, for God’s sake, that wasn’t cool. I liked the first dinner put on in my honour, but then my girlfriend told me that Lucy’s family had seemed upset over how much wine I drank at the dinner. There were rumours they’d been mad about that beer she drank in our bunker, but shit, the girl was thirsty and that’s all there was to drink there. She’d spent the night there and hadn’t broken down and gulped the beer until the next morning, for God’s sake.

There was a letter to the newspaper, about a month later, that called me an alcoholic. Shit, I guess I am, but I’m not a deadbeat, I work, I’ve never been arrested for anything besides the pot that time. Mom started ragging on me all the time, “Don’t get high, don’t get drunk, people expect more of you now you’re a hero. Use this to get a better job, try to get ahead.”

It took nearly six months for her to settle down, for people in town to stop wanting to shake my hand every time they saw me, for the guys to stop bugging me – “Oh, Kevin’s too good for us now, we’re just bums but he’s a goddam hero.”

And now they want to give me a medal, so it’s going to start up all over again.

I was happy the way I was. Now, my life won’t go back to the way it was. People won’t let it. And for me, shit, no high will ever be as good as that moment I handed Lucy to her mother, the shining moment when they thought I was wonderful, before they discovered it was only me.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012.  Stories must be a minimum of 200 words.  Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.