Audrey Jay, 12th - Mesa, AZ
We looked at each other as we flew home.
All of us were dirty, muddy from where we’d just fought, holding our bags like they were our children. We stopped somewhere, and for a minute I thought I could see the sun.
Captain stepped onboard. He looked at us with dried blood on his forehead and hands. We could even see some seeping thru his white socks since his combat boots were ripped open in different ways on each foot.
He looked at us with this look of love.
We looked at him with a similar look, not quite there yet.
He took his bloody hand and saluted us.
We saluted back.
“Good work.” He told us without a second thought. “You’ve fought the good fight. You’ve won the race.”
Some of the women began crying, not understanding what was happening.
“Sir,” one of the younger ones said, “have we really? It feels like we failed.”
He knelt so he could see eye to eye with her. “Did you do your best?”
“Did you love me and trust me to lead you?”
She nodded again.
“Then I see no failure in your heart. Just a human. Adam’s offspring.”
Captain stood again. He made eye contact with each one of us.
“You did your best?”
“Yes, sir,” we answered.
“You loved me and trusted me to lead you?”
“Yes, sir,” we answered again.
“Then why should I not love you?”
We looked at him with the look he’d given us before. He looked at us with the same.
“Drop your bags,” he said.
We dropped them.
“Why do we need to drop them, sir?” The younger one asked again.
“Because where we’re going, you won’t need them.”
The younger one stared at him.
Our plane landed. We’d arrived home.
I ran through the soft fields, flowers surrounding us. I could finally feel the sun again.
Students 6th-12th Grades