I Wish I Was Braver

I saw him get hit, I didn’t cry.

I was outside of the emergency room, I didn’t cry.

Even now at my father’s funeral, I wasn’t crying.

Many people tried to comfort me, not for me but because they were scared, scared of judgment, scared of mortality, scared of me. I wish they were braver then. No one saw me leave; I just slipped away as my father had from life. I ran. I wasn’t missing my kendo tournament, not for my dad, the man who had missed my first words. The man who had missed my birthday three times. I wasn’t backing out on the one thing that made me feel strong like he never could. I wasn’t missing that tournament for a dead man.

I had been having bad dreams lately. Every night I was killed by a beast ten feet tall, with grey cracked skin and glowing red eyes. He chased me down and swung his giant flaming claws towards me. His rage radiated with the power and heat of one thousand suns.

I arrived at the Golden Hilt Dojo soaked in rain and my family’s tears. My coach was stunned to see me that day, but he knew me enough not to say anything.

I solemnly stepped into the locker room and put on my protective gear. As I lifted my kendo stick out of its case, I heard a grunt come from my left. I turned to face the kid who had the audacity to try to scare me, intimidate me, the boy whose dad had just died. This proved that even though he was taller than me, Jacob Mchazer really was someone who deserved nothing except downward gazes.

Jacob was leaning on the third locker from mine with a dissatisfied scowl. He loudly ordered me to go home or else. I didn’t respond; the satisfaction of a response was one of many things that Jacob didn’t deserve. At the time he was still a white belt, but Jacob walked around like he owned the place. He was at least three inches taller than any kid at the dojo, so he was intimidating at first, but he never did anything. All bark and no bite. At this point he barely had any teeth left.

“Go home and cry, kid.” He speaks but my mind doesn’t register, his words pass right through me. As he opened his mouth again, the blade I had been slowly raising out of its case with my left hand quickly whipped over my shoulder, falling in an almost perfect arc. I spun at an angle, thrusting all of my weight into my sword as I slid my right foot, setting my center of balance straight. Every single movement fell into place, a perfect symphony of blade and dance.

His insolence was met by my rage, and my sword was met by his blood. I wish I was braver then.

I continued beating Jacob until he cried. I swung that kendo stick so hard my hands bled before Jacob did. Before I could do anything to seriously harm him, I was pulled away by my coach, who had heard Jacob screaming. I slipped out of his arms and rushed to the door, running into the rain once again.

The crimson falling from my fists hit the pavement the same way my father’s did when he died. Just ten seconds before the accident everything was just as it always was. My mom yelling at him just as she did everyday, he put on his suit just like always, everything was just like always. Dead before he hit the ground; the truck slammed into him as he walked away from us for the last time. I think he was brave.

By the time I got home, the sun had set. I didn’t want to go to sleep, I didn’t want to dream, but as I sat and watched whatever was on TV to keep myself awake my thoughts drifted, my mind slurred, and I fell into dreams once again.

As always, I was in the burning woods with a finely crafted katana in my hand. The beast’s footsteps came down hard and heavy, so loud they filled any space no matter how big. You could never tell where he was coming from. A sudden burst of heat whipped at my back, he was right behind me. I leaped to the left, awkwardly falling into an into a combat roll. I just barely evaded his swipe. He recoiled his arm back making a fist this time as if to show that he took me seriously. His second blow was fast, way too fast. How could something so huge move so fast? My left shoulder had been embedded into a nearby pine tree. Chips of wood had stuck themselves deep into my arms, almost reaching my bones. He reared back once again; this time, if I was hit, it was all over.

The second hit came down even faster than the first; this time I expertly ducked underneath his punch. As his fist hit the ground, I used the hilt of my sword to pick myself up. Using the inertia stored in the blade I pierced the beast’s ribcage. He was weakened. I felt strong, strong enough to kill this monstrosity. I began releasing a flurry of blows but I soon realized that the hits I had been aiming at his ribs were now aimed at his thigh.

I kept slicing and stabbing until my hands were sore. I stepped back and looked up. The monster was at least twenty feet tall now. The bent, cracked, and melted hunk of steel that was once a fine Japanese blade slipped from my charred palms. I wasn’t scared but I wasn’t brave either.

For a moment the forest felt like limbo. Nothing moved, there was no more fire, no more rage, and no more fear. A calm sadness spread across the beast’s face as he began to crumble away into golden flower petals. He blew into the wind. I watched as the petals danced in the breeze, shaping and forming around me into a loving embrace. My father gripped me tighter and tighter and then slowly released me, his warm glowing eyes wet but unblinking. He spoke to me. He spoke to my soul. “I love you, my son.” The words resonated within me, warming my heart, and the petals descended from the sky as the silence burned my throat and just like that, my father was gone, gone once again.

That morning I awakened brave enough to cry.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mosadi Pearson likes playing video games and drawing. He usually listens to progressive rock while writing. After trying to write an action-heavy story and failing, he decided to go with a sadder tone. Mosadi is a proud Mighty Writer.