Army Brats

Six grumbling bodies in the back seat.

Heads toss back, mouths agape as swallows work slowly behind growing adams apples.

Limbs toss sluggishly, yet slap strangely, breaking the monotonous silence.

Breathing heavily, to prove to themselves that the world wasn't paused.

Fingertips drumming.

Cars for miles in every direction, obscuring sanity to the point of hysteric snorts of laughter and muffled, teeth clenched screams.

Dad and mom sighing in front.

Through this purgatory, excitement about getting close enough to see what was causing the traffic jam they are so bored to be apart of is fed by the sight of a Turkish police officer. They all sit up in their cramped seats, straining to see what is hopefully multiple cars crumpled like the soda cans they so often smash beneath sneaker clad feet. Next to the stoic gentleman, emphatically flailing his pointing hand at their car, is a train conductor—the train conductor.

Six pairs of panic-stricken eyes watch as the two men make their way down the line of vehicles, stopping at the driver's side door of their car.

Hearts pounding in ears, stomachs doing flips, toes tapping furiously,

as Dad slowly, carefully

slides out of the car. The conductor is yelling at him, still frothing at the mouth, trying to incriminate them all. They were going to jail, there were going to get tortured. They were guilty, there was nothing anyone could do.

It was an accident—kinda...

They squint out windows, at fingers and toes, and the backs of their parents' heads harder than ever before, hoping to simultaneously discover their long dormant telepathic abilities, to establish a plausible and cohesive story.

As memories focus on earlier in the park, they collectively ponder their routine game of “Derail the Train.” It never worked of course—was merely an exercise in combat, survival, and ingenuity. Whenever they were at the park, they threw branches, rocks, and debris over the fence, onto the track, each time refining their strategy, and enacting dramatic events of explosions, evasive maneuvers, and touching acts of bravery. Every day they ran for cover when they heard the train coming, the conductor screaming in Turkish at their antics as they watched hopefully, only to disappointedly move on to the jungle gym. Today, however, they had grown tired of waiting for the late train, and had forgotten about the whole thing, lost in the throes of “Lava monster”.

It was only now, as they are trying in vain to drive back home to the base that the conductor's presence reveals that they had finally succeeded in knocking the cargo train off its tracks. And they are going to get it.

“You have a problem with my boys?” Dad drawls.

The conductor looks up at Dad, head craning to meet the eyes of the six foot something, black, military officer. The conductor shakes his head


moving on to the next car.

The six brothers tremble with pride and gratitude that their father had defended them—saved them. Hearts swell to capacity and smiles plaster to faces all around as they file into the house an hour later. Confused, they line up as Dad instructs them, oldest to youngest. Then,

“I don't know what you did, but I know that you did it.” He states darkly.

They all shrink several inches, wishing for invisibility.