Hi Jake, hope you win tomorrow.” the 2 girls giggled in the hallway,watching Jake Aldrich as he walked past in the High School hallway. Jake was the quarterback for the Hillsboro High Wildcats located in the dead center of the middle of Ohio.
But Jake didn’t even look up at the girls as he walked past.
He had other things on his mind, more important things. Jake had just come from the Marine recruiter office and he knew now more than ever that he was going to be a Marine. His father had been a Marine, hell even his Grandfather had been a Marine on Iwo Jima.
Jake hadn’t told his father yet, but he knew that Dad would be proud. His Dad had always spoke of duty to country and how the Marines were brothers for life. Jake loved it when Dad would tell him the stories of when he was in the Marines. Especially when Steve, his Dad’s Marine buddy, was always getting in trouble. Jake watched as his father told those stories, noticing how his Dad’s eye would seem to light up with a twinkle after each word.
Dad was never more…alive…than when he was reliving that part of his life.
No, Dad would beam with pride when I told him. Not a problem. But how was I going to tell Becky? That was the tough one. Becky was his girlfriend that he had been going steady with since the 9th grade. They even had gotten engaged, but never had set a solid date yet.
He remembers when he gave Becky a ring under big oak tree in the park. How they carved their initials in the tree just to show the world how they loved each other. How Becky cried tears of joy and kissed him, the sunlight shining through the leaves of that big mighty oak tree.
“Yes”, he thought, “Becky is going to be tough. Maybe if we set a date when I got out of the Marines? Or how about if we were to get married before? It’s not like I don’t love her but it seems so fast..”
All the possibilities were swirling in his head.
Almost too much to think about…
Raja Anwar had always helped his Dad. Planting, pruning, caring of those trees. How his Dad cared for his fig trees.
“Fig Trees are life itself”, he would always say. Raja didn’t understand what he meant but he enjoyed being with his Dad. His Dad knew everything about figs.
How to care for them but not over indulge. How to prune just the right amount to get the most flavorful figs at just the right time.
His brother, Murtaza, hated figs. Murtaza didn’t understand why his Father would spend so much time with those silly trees. Murtaza spent most of his time reading. He loved history and would read the 2 history books that he had over and over again. He could recite entire paragraphs by memory. “Ask me about this time”, Murtaza would say. “Not again, please” his Father would protest in a playful laugh.
But his Father was proud of both of his sons.
“How long ago that was”, thought Murtaza, “before Raja was killed.”
“In the wrong place at the wrong time. Raja….my brother…Raja…”
Now Father only stares at the field, at those trees. Watching them wilt away.
Murtaza hadn’t told his Father, but he had been talking to a couple of men in the village. They had given him a way to avenge his brother’s death.
“I could do this…maybe that would bring back my Father. Bring back the light in his eyes when he talks. His eyes seem so…dark now”
But Murtaza shut his eyes for now, he wanted to rest.
Almost too much to think about..