Mali Glasson Green, Grade 7
The man stands gravely over the latched, wooden trunk that sits upon a rectangular table, his composure deceiving as he fights an inner turmoil of selfishness and duty. His wife approaches him, her heart heavy and eyes wet. She lays her small, shaking hand over his.
"You do not have to do this you know." She says in a broken whisper.
"Ah, but love, I must. This country has given me so much and now it is my turn to contribute. I may not return, but rest easy knowing that I have lost my time in this world fighting for our little girl's future."
A lone tear appears on her grimy cheek. He wipes it away with a calloused hand, depositing it on a piece of fabric that soon finds its home in his breast pocket.
As he draws away from his wife, he unpins a small, crumpled picture from the faded and peeling wall. He gazes at the joyful world his daughter has drawn. A child's dream, strong and true yet easily shattered when faced with reality. He unlatches the trunk and welcomes the crayon scrawled paper to the place in which it will remain.
They stand in silence for a while, drinking in the sight of each other, as it is likely to be the last time they meet.
As the clock chimes, signalling 8 o'clock, he breaks away from the mental embrace and makes his way over to a door with a crudely carved flower in the centre. He opens it to reveal a peacefully sleeping child, her copper curls splayed across the rough pillow. He kisses her cheek and mumbles his parting words.
"Goodbye my child, never grow older and never forget me."
A tear escapes the cool demeanour he has built. As he leaves the room the child shifts in bed, but he does not look back, not wanting his already shattered heart to break anymore. As he exits the cottage, hat on head and towing his trunk, the child clutches her recently kissed cheek in her sleep.
The man disappears into the mist.