“Son, I promise you I’ll be back home safe and sound,” Sergeant Chase Stone hugged his son firmly in his arms.
“Daddy, can you please don’t go? It is not safe over in Afghanistan,” ten-year-old Vincent pleaded. Teardrops started to stream down from his almond-sized eye.
“Son, it’s my duty and honour to serve for my country. My mates need me over there. Terrorists are turning Afghanistan a safe haven for them. We can’t just sit here and do nothing,” he added.
“But Dad, you and mum just divorced. All I have is you now. And I don’t want to lose you,” Vincent bawled as he refused to free himself from his dad’s arms.
Chase’s tears fell. Torrential rains made it even more difficult to bid goodbye to his son.
“Come here son, sleep with Daddy tonight,” he lifted Vincent in his arm and brought him into his bedroom.
Few months ago, Sergeant Stone was still doing his very best, staying focused and concentrated as he led his mates through all the battle fields and war zones. On usual days when there was not any explosions, bombings or attacks, Sergeant Stone would be sitting in his office, reading emails from his officers, catching up with Australian news, exercising and training. At night, he would sit outside his camp, holding a glass of hot tea as he looked into the sky.
It was usually a new moon night that made Chase felt even lonelier. As he held his glass of tea and looked into the dark sky, he could not stop helping himself thinking about little Vincent jumping with joy everytime when he saw his daddy marching back from tours, cheering with happiness as his daddy played footy with him in the backyard or even laughing happily when his daddy brought him for barbeque at the local park.
“Dear Vincent, you know I miss you, my little man,” he prayed silently. “I promise you, Dad will make it back in one piece. Don’t worry about me. Take good care of yourself.”
He took out pen and papers, sat near the bonfire and started to write letters for Vincent.
How is my little man doing? I reckon you’re definitely growing everyday, having fun with your mates in school and eating healthily. Remember what Daddy told you, no snacks or junkies after 2000 and be in bed before 2200 every night. Why am I still talkin’ to my son in an army language? Anyway, it’s new moon tonight. Daddy can’t see neither the moon nor the star tonight. However, there is always this bright star living in my heart and that is you. Daddy loves you more than anyone else in the world.
Daddy promises you that I’ll be safe. Daddy’s mates usually have my back. In the army, we take care of one another like a big family. Whenever someone’s injured, we nursed them like our own family members. If someone is emotionally unsteady, we help them through the worst. We always have each other back, just like your fellow mates in school. Remember, cherish our Australian value. Mateship will get you through obstacles in life.
I know you always love listening to some fighting story. Yesterday, Daddy and my troupe were patrolling in a village. We suspected that the terrorists had implanted a bomb so we were assigned to investigate the place. Daddy was so close to the bomb. The bomb was literally just in front of Daddy and I did not realise that! Thank God one of my mates were just in time to pull me away and saved me. We evacuated everyone in the village. The bomb experts were there on time and deactivated the bomb. Sometimes I do believe in miracles. If it wasn’t for my mate and for the experts, we could have been blown away! The innocent civilians were so happy that they were alive. Life is so fragile Vincent. Promise Daddy one thing. No matter what may happen in the future, don’t let go and don’t give up.
Daddy loves you as always. And it is always these dark nights that make me miss my little man even more. Send my regards to granny. Love her each day as she takes extremely good care of you while Daddy’s on tour.
The letter reached Vincent eventually. The tour had ended in Afghanistan. The valorous and courageous army should be back by then. Vincent stood on the military post impatiently with his granny.
“Granny, why isn’t Daddy here yet? He said he’ll be coming back,” Vincent grumbled. “He promised! He said that in the letter he sent me last week!”
Sometimes, words are unsaid. Promises are shattered. Lies are told. But would you go all that far, just not to break a ten-year-old heart?
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