Tuesday, May 8, 2012

MFF#4: Disposable Heroes by Dan Wright

Welcome to Unwritten's  May Flash Fiction challenge! Every story (600 words max) begins with this sentence: 

 I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.

It's the news no parent wants to receive. Yet, countless families of fallen heroes around the world must say goodbye to their children in this way. Read this story by author Dan Wright and feel free to share your own experiences. Most importantly, don't forget to keep the men and women in our armed forces in your thoughts and prayers!


Disposable Heroes


I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.

It’s never the easiest thing for a parent to say goodbye to their child – even though we know that sooner or later we must let them leave the nest, it still fills us with fear, sending out children out to the world. But we let them go, because we know it’s the best thing and goodbye doesn’t have to mean a final farewell – sometimes we know that our children will return to us.

But this time, when I said goodbye to my boy, I knew that he wouldn’t be coming back.

I held my head to my son’s chest, hoping that I could still hear a vague heartbeat. There was none. His heart had stopped beating long before he was brought to me. Yet he looked so peaceful, as if he was sleeping. I shook him, as I did when he refused to wake up for school, hoping that he was only asleep and fooling around. His eyes did not open. I placed one hand over his face, hoping to feel warmth, but touching only cold flesh. I beg, I pray, I ask my son to open his eyes – but I can barely see him anymore as my eyes are filled with tears. It makes him look as if  he is underwater.

Why him? Why? What did he do to deserve this? He was a good boy, a good husband to his wife, a good father to his daughter. He never did anything wrong in life. All he wanted was to do his duty. Was this the price for his loyalty?

I scream at the heavens, begging them to bring him back to me. Surely this wasn’t his time – he was too young. I scream until my lungs explode, hoping that my prayers would be answered. But even that isn’t enough. It’s a cruel irony that we are taught to show Him undivided attention and love – but when we need something from him, he tends to go deaf.

They tell me that he was a hero that he would be remembered for all time. He would be honoured, given a ceremony, his name going down in history and that I should be proud of him.

I was always proud of him. He was my son. He didn’t have to go through this to know that I was proud of him.

What do I have to proud of now? Proud that I must bury my son when he should be burying me in years to come? Proud that I must now tell his daughter that her Daddy won’t be coming back? Proud that I have to tell his wife my son died in service to his country?

If that’s something to be proud of, then I’d rather be ashamed.

I wonder if any of those people would say that I should be proud if it was their child that they lost?

Dan lives in the UK, his hometown being Canterbury, Kent. A huge fan of both Fantasy and Manga, he has a style that combines both within his writing, which lets him tell stories that are both dramatic and tongue-in-cheek at the same time.

Dan also runs his own website, blog and even a wiki page that goes into detail of the world of Draconica. He is also a reviewer for the website Read2Review and will soon be reviewing books independently on his own website.

Authors who have inspired Dan are Douglas Adams, J.R.R Tolkien, Harlan Ellison, Alan Moore, Joss Whedon and Hiromu Arakawa.

Contact Dan via the following links:

WEBSITE: www.pandragondan.co.uk
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/PandragonDanWright
TWITTER: @PandragonDan

Books currently available – check out website for details


  1. I came across this shortly after you'd posted it. The beautifully written thoughts brought tears to my eyes. Why do soldiers have to die? Why do men have to fight? Is it the nature of man, or can we change? I bless each of the fallen soldiers in my mind every time I hear of one returning in a box.

    Two of my own children have died before me. Not in war, but one in a power take-over and the other from illness. I understand how the wicked waste of our children's lives affects us.

    I can only trust the words of Desiderata about the universe unfolding as it should.

  2. Dan - This resonated so deeply with me and is so beautifully and perfectly said. My father was killed in Viet Nam, when my sister and I were very young. We don't have memories of him, just an ever-present, pre-verbal type of grief. The memories we do have are visits to cemetery markers beneath which no remains lay, because there were none. And of memorials where he was just one name among many, too many, so many that it's hard to grasp. Our memories also include the ongoing pain this caused my grandparents while they lived, and my mother and aunts and uncles to this day, coming up on forty three years later. Yes, our lives went on. Grief is mitigated by time. But for me, the pride in his service has never once outweighed the reality of his death.

  3. Thanks for your comments so far guys.
    I actually wrote this as a kinda POV of a character from one of my books, but drew a lot of inspiration from those who lost their families to war.
    I couldn't have put it more succiently than Mysti did at the beginning of this post - my thoughts and prayers go out to the those in the armed forces and their families. Thank you for your kind comments.

  4. This is such a moving story. It is very close to home for me as I have a lot of military family members and I live next to an army base. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. Your story brought me to tears. I was fortunate enough to have met my husband after his Vietnam service as a Navy Seabee. When he occasionally mentioned volunteering for a second tour, I would always let him know that was not a possibility as I was pregnant with our first child, who later became a Marine in Desert Storm. Thankfully, both have come back home to me safe and sound. It breaks my heart every time I hear of some family stricken with grief over losing their husband, father, son, or grandson to war. I pray for the day when wars are no more, and the world can live in peace. Thank you for sharing your story, and reminding me just how much I have to be thankful for.


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