Child Soldiers


Looking up, seeing stars. I don’t like nighttime most of the time but sometimes it is nice, I don’t know why I think that and I don’t know why I think of looking up. Stars looking down. Boakai is next to me, he is sleeping, snoring a bit, he is a loud snorer normally it really annoys me but he is a good friend so I forgive him. We grow up together in village since young times, I do not remember when we first meet but I remember he a happy boy and make me happy too and we play football together and laugh. His mother or father I do not remember ever meeting but he still seemed happy, I do not think he had a mother or father. He is still snoring and this makes me smile, I look around at the other guys and I see them as shadows in the trees and bushes in the forest around us, peaceful like after a storm but I know that storm is coming because it is rainy season and I know where we are going. Today was long, full of walking, no rest and I have feet that hurt, blistered because I need new shoes but complaining is not good so I keep quiet and keep walking. Boakai has no shoes, he walks on feet only, he is a tough guy. He has three more years than me, he like a big brother to me, we are brothers but he has no father or mother.

I like remembering some things but not all things. Some rememberings scare me but I try to be tough guy and keep tough face for the other guys and Onefoot. I remember some months ago, I cannot remember how many months, maybe two or three I am not sure, I met Onefoot for the first time and Boakai met him too, we only kids in front of Onefoot, this soldier man very strong tough guy like from the american movies we watch. I check my gun is still next to me, yes it is still there I never forget to check it and Boakai has his gun under his head too, he is still sleeping, snoring. He is funny guy Boakai. Onefoot like him and like me too I think, I hope. I try to be tough guy, I remember when we meet we were given guns and showed how to shoot and how to aim and how to feel like tough guy and I like it very much but I also scared inside because I miss my mother and my father but Boakai seem to never miss his mother and father I am not sure if he ever met them. When I shoot gun first time I keep smile on face to hide my insides from showing and I look good shooting trees on that day in the village, we shoot many things like trees and walls and practice aiming at things like birds and then I shoot my father and he died and I did not cry.

Onefoot made me shoot but I think I wanted to so I did and then I watched the red and he died and I was cold but I had smile on my face. Boakai was happy. My mother I think taken away for men and I understand this, I understand how things work I am a tough guy so I don’t worry, none of us worry, we are soldiers so we live to be soldiers and to fight and to be like Onefoot.

I like being solider because I have scars they make me look real tough guy and Onefoot he give me smile when he pass by and I smile because I am happy and I like my scars on my body and my arms when I roll my fingers over them and I feel the skin and it feels like I am a brave animal and I have tough scars, they make me fighter. We crawl through barbed wire and over barbed wire which is tough but it is fun because it give us scars. Boakai has plenty scars too and I see he is happy. Our training is every day with barbed wire and we get food and water too which is good and sometimes we get puff to relax us in evening but not today. It is good being solider, Onefoot make us good.

Boakai has friend who has killed many times and he has big smile on his face because he a good soldier and Onefoot very pleased and give him extra puff and a knife, a big knife, it is heavy and curved and he keeps it with him all times and has a belt he holds it in when he fights and doing training and it looks very good. I meet Boakai’s friend once and I remember his big smile, he talked lots of how he does killing and how many he will do. He killed his family, two parents and three sisters when he joined Onefoot so he is extra special soldier, great protection from his killing. I am not so good and I not have that protection but I try to be good soldier as I am a good guy.

I like how a gun feels when you hold it and how it looks because it is metal and dark and it looks good with your arms holding it, your arms look good because the muscles go big and make you look like a tough guy and we are all tough guys. I have to keep gun clean with leaves and rain water when it get dirty because it is important and maybe it not work so I need to keep it clean so it will fire bullets. I test gun every day with training and we kill trees and birds. We sometimes eat birds or animals for food and meat is good when it is red. I like new scars because they are red then they go brown and I have a new scar and I can show it to the other guys, we like to share our scars they are like stories.

I am not sleeping because I am keeping lookout and I keep looking at Boakai because he is funny guy, still snoring, I can see his gun. He does not have a knife. I know Onefoot will be coming near soon I think because sun is almost here. I have some sleep but I not need much. I look down at the ground around me and I think it is good to be here and that I do not miss home, this is my home now and this is my family, my real family, I never had a family before I was soldier, they were not real.

Ok here is a sound from nearby I think it is maybe Onefoot because I see four or five or six outlines moving and they are big outlines, strong outlines like big soldiers so I know it is not boys, yes it is Onefoot he is walking with soldiers to open space near where Boakai and I are staying so I jump up and I wake Boakai with my foot and he makes noise and one more snore and I laugh and I look down at him with big smile and he does grunt at me and gets up and grabs his gun and we walk to the open space and find a fallen tree to sit on next to some other tough guys I have seen before but I think they are newer than me but they have same smiles as me.

There are boys and older boys with different clothes but we all have soldier uniform of a gun and we proud to be soldiers with Onefoot and some boys have baggy t­shirts on which make them look funny but because they have guns they look tough, some t­shirts yellow and some red. There is one boy naked but with a belt and a big knife and I think I know who he is but he does
not know me, he is staring straight at Onefoot and he does not smile, he just stare and I know why he is naked because if you are naked you are protected from bullets so that is why he is naked. He is brave and will be good soldier and fighter and he is naked because he is strong. He has a smoking stick in his hand and I think actually it is puff so he is happy.

Onefoot is now talking and I listen carefully, we all listen because Onefoot is important, he is our leader and we must listen otherwise he punish us badly and I know he is a good man so we all listen. He is talking of the plan and how we cross border today and we are in new world today and we will free the people. I wonder what the border looks like as I have never seen a border, I wonder if it is special or normal or if we will know when we cross the border, I think it will be exciting and I am happy we are moving across the border today so we can fight and be good soldiers. Onefoot is a good man, he wants to help people and free them from horrible people so we help him and we help the people because we want to be good guys. Onefoot is saying if we meet other soldiers we must shoot and make them pour red into the dirt and make them stop breathing and I am brave because of his words and they make me smile. We will kill because we help people and make them free. Onefoot also saying if we see blue hats we only kill them if they get in our way but they are special family who do not fight us so we respect them if they don’t stop us but we have to do what is right and fight to free the people so if blue hats try to stop us we must kill them and this is the right thing to do.

Now we are ready to move so Onefoot gives a great shout and we all shout back and we are ready because we are family of strong tough soldiers and we must walk to the border and cross the border to fight and free the people. Tomorrow Onefoot says we will have big party and the people will be happy and free and this makes me happy and I smile and we start walking and Boakai is next to me and my feet do not hurt because I am thinking of the party and the people we will make happy.

About J M Jackson

Dad first, etc second. Prefers writing about life instead of facing it. Occupied by unruly Nabokovian irritation & irrepressible Kafkaesque positivity. Working on his first novel.

Dad first, etc second. Prefers writing about life instead of facing it. Occupied by unruly Nabokovian irritation & irrepressible Kafkaesque positivity. Working on his first novel.

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