The Forgotten Soldier


I didn’t really fit in. A lot of people say this, even though they had tons of friends. They’re just trying to emphasize. I kept to myself but with a longing to communicate and be heard. The fantasies of being the most popular or outspoken were plaguing. Everyday I watched the clock on the wall in class. When it hit Three o’ clock, I ran for the door. My friends were mostly on Television. Facts of Life and Different Strokes were my favorite, then Three’s Company. Their bond was tight and I could join in the fun and laugh along with Jack Tripper as he goosed the girls. I felt all the emotions they conveyed on screen as I ate Fig Newtons on the cozy family couch till dinner time. I was engrossed with Television and soaked in all the social cues that enabled me to function in my own life. I was an empty shell off my mother’s assembly line womb, and color filled into my cheeks with the first laugh of a sitcom.

I began flunking classes my Freshman year. The first in line was English. Barb Myers was a horrendous woman who fostered a brown-nosing requirement, and the front row of her classes always had the top brown nosers, who raised their hands for everything and stayed after class to help Myers out with extra curricular activities. I was always in the back row with the other two rejects. I was king of the rejects and protected them as much as I could. One day, Miss Myers told one of the rejects to leave the class. She then said under her breath to the rest of the class, “It’s like talking to a marshmallow.” The brown nosers laughed uproariously. That gave me enough ammo to take to the principal’s office and report her. Unfortunately, my clout was less than hers, so nothing was done.

My Junior year came and our marching band class was to travel to a Ocean side destination to relax, as a reward for being a great group. I liked the class because I had switched from Trumpet to drums and enjoyed hitting things. The only other class I enjoyed was Metal Shop, because I could watch metal slowly melt by my hand with a torch. I could get a ball of melted metal on the end of the welding rod and flick it across the welding shop. It would explode into sparks on the cement floor a hundred feet away. That class was a fucking war zone! Anyways, Marching Band was off to Ocean Shores. Something happened to me on that trip. Maybe it was the feeling of travel, or the essence of leaving something behind, but I began to open up. I began to joke around and make funny noises. The other kids who used to ignore me began to turn their ears towards me and laugh. Soon, most of the people on the bus were watching me as I spoke with a newfound sense of freedom, imagination & confidence. It was like I was in a coma for most of school and that day was the catalyst for all the beautiful, witty banter ahead of me. We arrived at the ocean and we kicked the sand and laughed and ran with the wind and the seagulls. The girl I had a crush on for years was looking over at me. It was all coming together because I let go.

When the trip was over and Monday began and it was class as usual, I felt the confines of normalcy approach like a dark cloud over a cement pour. My laughter subsided and most of the class soon forgot about my blossoming experience. Ten years later though, there’s still two or three people that remember me and that day and mention it to me with a smile.


Copyright 2012. ERIK CHRISTIAN