THE DEAD END - Short Story by I. D. Moon
Author’s Note: This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
“Now, I invite Miss Ivory Raynott to come up and share about Theo Jarsdel.”, the funeral celebrant announced right after the prayer, drawing attention of Ivory who kept staring at the tribute portrait of Theo with her puffed eyes.
“Do you want me to come with you honey?”, Special Forces Major Doctor Yovanna Raynott asked Ivory giving her sympathetic look as she rubbed her back.
Ivory took a deep breath, “It’s okay mom.”, she answered standing straight as she clutched hard on a clean sheet of paper which was meant to be the memorial speech for Theo.
Ivory hated funerals and memorial services. This was the second time she lost someone so dear to her. The first time was when Special Forces Captain Vincent Raynott, her father, passed away at the battlefield in Afghanistan while leading his troops. He was a martyr who sacrificed his life for the nation and was declared dead in a fatal road accident by the Army Officials. The ‘secrecy of mission’ was the priority of Special Forces which these 6-year-old kids didn’t understand. All she remembered was her mother and almost everyone around her dressed up in Army Service Uniforms with medals and ribbons attached to them while her father’s cadaver laid in the dark wooden casket covered in the flag of her nation. Theo’s father, Captain Cyrus Jarsdel, who was the dearest friend of Ivory’s dad, always told her that Captain Vincent Raynott was the real hero.
The little Theo told Ivory that her daddy never wanted to leave her but had to go because God needed him. He told her not to cry or else, she’ll upset her dad who was watching her from the sky. Maybe, Captain Cyrus Jarsdel told Theo this when his mom passed away while he was still a toddler. He suffered from the agony of losing a parent way too early. The young boy tried his best to reduce her suffering by accompanying her everywhere; to the elementary school, to home, to the day-care and even to the camp base. Ivory was more than grateful to the Christ for Theo’s existence.
Memories… All her memories had a hint of Theo in them. Ivory knew Theo for her whole life. Their parents were close friends and so were these kids. The earliest memory Ivory had as a little girl was the days of Iraq. Once in a while, Theo’s father would take them to the Army Base which was a 30 minutes’ drive from the main town. Both of them would sit on the shoulders of the soldiers from troops led by their fathers and have races. Some days, they would sit behind the chain link fence of the troop’s practice ground and argue on whose daddy was stronger.
They grew a bit older, so did their tasks. On every Sunday, they went to the Special Forces Medical Unit at Army Base to help Ivory’s mother as large number of people would come for health check. Theo and Ivory ran small errands like putting medicines in the envelope, bringing syringes from the indoor pharmacy and so on.
Theo and Ivory laid under the dark sky with stars twinkling brightly.
“I miss my dad so much. Don’t you miss your mom?”, Ivory asked as her voice trembled.
“I do, but if we miss them a lot, we won’t do good at school and won’t be able to become Army Officials like them, then they would be totally disappointed in us and we want to make them proud, right?”, the words of 8-year-old Theo gave her hopes and made her look beyond the grief.
“You are right. We will study hard and make them proud.”, Ivory said clapping her hands together her voice sounded livelier than before. They made a promise under the twinkling sky of Iraq to enter the Special Forces of Army and come back to Iraq together after 20 years.
Two years later, Special Forces Major Doctor Yovanna Raynott was posted to Urk for a special operation, while Captain Cyrus Jarsdel was posted to Afghanistan. Ivory’s mother decided to send her daughter to a boarding school in her home country. Theo went to Afghanistan with his dad. Theo and Ivory promised to stay in touch through e-mails as boarding schools had prohibited personal phones.
Ivory went to boarding school and Theo left for Afghanistan. The life at the boarding school was way too boring than she anticipated. Ivory emailed Theo and her mom from the computer lab of her school once a week. She ranted about how her adventurous life turned into boredom, how badly she missed the deserts and clear twinkling sky of Iraq, the practices of troops and moreover, how badly she missed both of them.
She learnt that the condition of Afghanistan was worse than Iraq. There were no proper shelter, schools and electric supply units. More than half of the people did not have the basic necessities. Kids were suffering from malnutrition and epidemics. Theo would wake up from his sleep by the sound of firing. Theo told Ivory that he missed her but was glad that she wasn't there. They would suggest each other books like — The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Night by Elie Wiesel and many more.
On the other hand, Urk had become a living hell. It was an active warzone. The enemies destroyed the whole Urk, disturbing the lives and left it in a complete chaos. The time passed by and as the seasons changed and it was already three years since she left Iraq.
Theo emailed her once or twice a week due to poor internet service. He had to go to the Army Base to email her as it was the only place which had proper internet connection. Theo informed her that he might come home next summer with her mom. Even though, the chances that they would come were relatively low, but the news was enough to leave her jumping in excitement and joy.
It was the last email Theo ever sent her. Ivory remembered it was exactly a year and 10 months ago, right before her 14th birthday, Theo stopped talking with her. Ivory dropped more than 50 emails to Theo and her mom asking if both of them were okay. None of them replied to her. Before dropping off Ivory at her boarding school, her mom informed Ivory that if anything ever happens to her, personnel from Army will come to inform her.
Ivory kept praying to Lord, not to let any Army personnel show up at her school. Even the thought of it gave her chill down her spine. She was having a hard time. Sleepless nights and nightmares kept haunting her. After 3 months, she received an email from her mother, informing that Theo and she were fine and they were coming back home. The tears of relief made her sob uncontrollably.
A week later, Theo and her mother finally came back. "Where is Mr. Jarsdel?", Ivory asked with a smile as she noticed it was just Theo and her mom. “He didn't come?”, She continued.
The contagious smile of Theo was gone and his captivating eyes had turned dull and watery. A tear rolled down his cheek and he ran out of the house. Her mother told that the enemies suddenly attacked the Army Base and Mr. Jarsdel passed away while chasing away the enemies. His corpse was taken to the Afghani government and the Army officials of their nation denied him to be the citizen. Her mother went to Afghanistan to give medical help to the injured and now, none of Theo's relatives wanted to adopt him as both of his biological parents were dead.
“Mom, can't you adopt him?”, Ivory asked in a weak voice.
“I can't sweetie. Special Forces Officials are not permitted to adopt children.”, her mom answered, a hint of sadness in her voice. Ivory was flabbergasted how in a day his whole world turned upside down.
“What will happen to him?” Ivory questioned worriedly.
“He need to go to the Foster Care.”, her mom replied.
Days passed by and Theo went to the foster care. Ivory's mother pleaded the authority of Foster Care to let Theo attend the school Ivory went to as she will pay all his expenses. Her mother didn't want Theo to suffer anymore as he already started to distance himself from everyone. The kid who was once the life of the party was now beyond hurt and broken.
Every time Ivory tried to talk to him, he simply ignored her and walked away. Not that Ivory didn't understand him, she told herself that he needed time to calm down his mind. She always raided his table while he ate his food alone at the cafeteria. Even though he didn't talk with her, she just wanted to keep him company, just the way he did when her dad passed away.
During the Sophomore year of the high school, Theo started hanging out with the senior year students. Theo didn't look well, he got skinny with dark bags under his eyes. Ivory once caught him smoking marijuana with those boys and dragged him by his collar telling him how disappointed his parents must be feeling and the Theo she knew all her life was not him. From that day, Ivory avoided him when he tried to apologise, more out of a desire to correct him than to hurt him.
An envelope fell off from her notebook on the bed when she took it out from her backpack. It was a letter from Theo.
“Hey Ivory, I apologise for being a jerk for a past year. But everything feels so surreal that I still can't wrap my head around it. I feel like an abandoned kid. I feel like I'm stuck at a dead-end and everything seems foggy. I'll get myself together and try to move forward in life. Please forgive me for making you suffer. I promise that I won't disappoint you anymore ^_^”, Ivory felt a deep relief in her heart that he was finally trying to get himself together. But a horrific news was waiting for Ivory in the morning.
“A 15-year-old boy, Theo Jarsdel, a Sophomore at Lilywood Boarding School committed suicide by jumping off his school building.”, and her whole world came crashing down.
She stood there as numbness took over her heart once again and her mind was lost while contemplating over the fact that she won’t be able to find her Theo again.