Goodbye Forever

Áron Antal

– Good morning, dear.

– Morning, Mom.

As soon as she closed my door again, I wanted to fall asleep, but I just couldn’t. Kept turning for ten minutes until I got tired of it, and left my room. The sunrays struck my eyes like a car’s highbeam on a dark night.

– I made breakfast for you – said mom.

She made the best bread with eggs, and tomato salad to top it off. Salty and dripping with vinegar.

– Would you mind turning on the radio, please? – asked my mom. – If you bought it at least use it once in a while.

I bought this old humongous radio at a garage sale down the street a week ago for half a dollar. It was a beauty, made from wood that was in good condition, and I had a bakelite plate player as well, long, middle, short and ultrashort reception with a ferret-antenna, and at dawn you could even get Japan on it, although with a lot of static. My mother hated it.

So I pushed the ON button, the radio sizzled, and the old speakers started to play a song from the 70s.

– Where is dad? – I asked.

– At work as usual – she replied. – He said that after you woke up, you have to help him. They are fixing a harvesting machine or something. So when you finish your breakfast, you have to go help him.

– Okay – I said, and continued to consume the delicious breakfast. Our dog was sleeping on the porch, turning from left to right, sometimes yawning. The birds were chirping in the garden, and the sun was rising higher form the horizon. It was quite peaceful, considering the fact that a war was raging in our “neighbor.”

The news came on the radio:

– Mortality rates are increasing while there seems to be a stalemate in the war….

My mom took a leap forward to the cord, and pulled it out.

– I hate when they speak about the war. Why can’t we live in peace after hundreds of years of wars? Humanity has had enough bloodshed already.

– I have to agree, but what can you do about it? Next year, if I graduate, I will buy Bill’s old BMW, and go travel for a bit in the summer.

– If you can earn the money, then you may. Although I will miss you – said my mom with a frown on her face. – I even miss you when you spend two days at Jack’s working.

– I should go now, or dad will rip my head off.

– Yeah, you should go. Be careful while fixing that harvesting machine, I have a bad feeling. You know maternal instincts!

– Yes I know, be assured, nothing will happen. Bye mom.

I walked out to the garage, where my motorbike was parked. At the moment I started the engine, our dog was standing next to me. She always got here so fast when someone was leaving, you would think she could teleport or something. She looked at me with a sad face.

– Okay girl, I won’t be away forever. When I get home, I have to fix Mr. White’s Honda, I will play with you while doing so, okay?

She was just staring at me, but I know that she could understand what I said, or maybe not understand but just feel from the tone of the speech that I had some good intentions for her.

I opened the gate of the garden, and went on the road. The traffic was minimal, as one would expect from a small agriculture town in the middle of a plane, or in the middle of the geographical location, where nothing happens. Life just flows like in a spring, never disturbed and uninterested in what happens.

As I was going on my way, enjoying the warm weather of May, in front of a house with a detailed fence stood a man in army uniform, around twenty, getting hugged by his mother, his father waiting in the car.

– Poor fella – I thought. He enlisted for what? To die out on the field “protecting his country.”

Soon I arrived at the ranch out of town, at our family ranch. Although the word “ranch” is quite demeaning, as our “ranch” had forty-five thousand tonnes of grain storage, eighty thousand liters of gasoline and thirty thousand liters of nitrosol artificial fertilizer storage capacity, so it was big to say the least. As I rolled in the main gate and went behind the mechanic hangar, my blood froze in my veins.

Two tanks were parked there and a military truck. My father seemed to be arguing with an officer.

I stopped at the gate of the hangar, and with rapid steps approached the vehicles.

I always had an amazement for huge and heavy machines, and was a great heavy machine operator, but now I was terrified by the sight of the tanks.

– Good morning – I said with a resonating voice.

– They want to take you away!’ – cried out my father. – They will take you away.

– What?

– Good morning Mr. Goodman – said the officer – your father is quite right. We have the order to enlist you and some of the workers of the facility, while placing it under military control.

Two soldiers approached me, took me by the hand, and led me towards the truck where George the tractor driver, John the mechanic and Nate the heavy machine operator were sitting with their heads hanging low. They were between the ages of 19-23. I couldn’t say a word as I stepped up onto the truck. I turned back when we were driving away, saw my father crying while he was waving goodbye, maybe forever, and heard him shouting something like: “How could this happen, why not me, your mother…” but I could barely even raise my hand to wave goodbye to him. I didn’t even know what I would have to do, whether I would be deployed almost after enlistment or stationed until the time came.

The sun shone on the back of my neck as the truck bumped on the road, and I was just thinking: I couldn’t even say a proper goodbye. Who will play with my dog, who will fix old Mr. White’s Honda, who will buy that old BMW and who will stop my mother from throwing out my radio? The answer is easy: no one, because I won’t be there.