Landing Strip

Excellence Award in the 'Spread The Word 2017' competition

I was serene. The sound of the crashing waves and salty scent never failed to send chills down my spine. This is where I could stop thinking, stop worrying and just breathe. “Jessie! Jessie! Wake up!” A young voice called out.

I cracked my eyelids open to see a figure of a small boy running towards me, struggling a bit due to the dunes of sand. “Jessie come on!” he called out again.

“I… can’t… build… the… landing… strip… on… my… own…” he said in between breaths.

“Ok, ok Brendon, I’ll be up in a second,” I groan.

His chubby little face lit up with a smile that could light up the darkest cave, and with that he ran off. At his age children, don’t understand a lot of stuff so when our dad left for war Brendon assumed he went to ‘work’, 5 months as of now. Every single day, Brendon thought that if we drew a landing strip in the sand Dad’s plane would come down and he’d be home.

I finally stood up, brushed the grains of sand that stuck to my jean shorts, and walked towards Brendon. He was hopping across the beach like a madman whilst his left foot dragged behind him imprinting a line in the sand. Copying his actions we did this for 5 minutes until we managed to create a 10 metre runway. “Come on, mum’s probably waiting for us at home,” I told Brendon.

“I don’t think so, she’s always drinking her bitter juice,” he replied sadly.

I frowned at this comment. “Don’t worry, she’ll be ok soon.”

Months flew by whilst Brendon’s faith washed away like the landing strips we would draw every day. When I opened the front door I was greeted with the usual scent of mum’s ‘bitter juice’. Walking into Brendon’s room I could see him lying on his bed staring at the ceiling, his eyes clouded with sadness. “Brendon why aren’t you at the beach?” I ask.

His head slowly turns to me. “What’s the point anymore?” He asks, his voice cracking.

I was taken a bit aback with his comment. “It’s your birthday, I’m sure dad will come to wish you well,” I answer.

I’m giving him hope.

Slowly he swung his feet over the bed’s edge and landed on the wooden floor. “Ok, ok. Let’s go.”

I was currently carrying Brendon on my back whilst walking back to the house, him laughing whilst my lungs were struggling to catch its breath. Night time crickets were chirping, the stars twinkling above. That’s when I saw it. A military van parked outside of our house. When I looked at the front porch of my house I saw a tall male figure wearing a military uniform standing at the door and talking to Mum. I could sense Brendon’s excitement. I ran through the front yard and Mum spotted me but… she was crying. The man turned around and I stopped, Mum wasn’t crying out of happiness.

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