Semper Fi

Written April 1, 2011.

This excerpt is what the poem, Semper Fidelis, derived from. Another piece written for my Creative Writing class, I had it in mind to write an entire novel based off of what you read here, long before I had enrolled in the course. The course gave me a means to start it — but after thoroughly, attempting to be thorough at least, researching the subject, for some strange reason I stopped and stepped away from this project. It has been well over a year and since it was just sitting on my flash drive I figured I’d share it here on my blog.

I have no personal experience with the Armed Forces, just stories from a good friend from his time in the Navy but aside from that, that is it. Again, I have no personal experience in any way shape or form and wrote this excerpt, part of a larger unfinished piece,  based off of documentaries (example: Camp Leatherneck, Restrepo) and movies (Brothers, Jarhead). Both are categories of film in which I combed through endlessly. I was rather selective in what I watched, in hopes of capturing emotions and events that (felt) were raw. After everything that I had watched (and read), it was rather emotionally draining. I feel that maybe part of the reason I had stopped working on it was out of fear that I would not be able to portray Marine’s like they ought to be portrayed; frankly, with school, I had little time to work on it with the zeal that such work would have demanded from me, a zeal that I craved for while writing this.

The last thing I wanted to do was disrespect the men and women of our armed forces and, for their services, I’d like to thank them. In any event, I hope you enjoy this.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

They say the night before shipping off to Boot Camp isn’t half as scary as your time spent in the 12-week program. 12-weeks? 12-fucking-weeks. 84 days. 3 months: yeah, 12 glorious weeks.

They say Boot Camp for Marine’s is like a little taste of hell. They say the training will rattle you so hard that torture from the Devil himself would seem heavenly. Heaven? You’ll forget what that is. They say enjoy your last few weeks as a “civ” before you ship out.  They say, “only the strong survive and the weak perish”. Perish? They say this word as if dying makes you a martyr: because getting shrapnel to the face while patrolling makes you a hero. They say – they say – they say – they say a lot of things. They said a lot of things that I didn’t actually listen to but wish I had, in some aspects at least.

Dinner was quiet that night: it was as if everyone had a lot to say but yet, nothing to say at all. The clinking of the forks and knives against the plates, the mashing of the food as everyone chewed. There was an edgy air about the table.

“Your father should be home soon,” my mother said without even bothering to look at me. She hadn’t been able to look at me since I told her I enlisted. I didn’t look up; I only stared at the vegetables that lay on my plate. The meat tasted dry. The lasagna looked soggy and under cooked. Shouldn’t this meal have tasted more amazing than anything I had ever eaten? Or maybe the nerves and the racing second thoughts prohibited me from enjoying my last night at home.

“Jimmy?” My little sister asked timidly. She sat across from me. Her feet barely touched the floor; she was so small. I looked up at her, holding my fork on my plate of what was almost cold food.

“Rob Thomas said if you get shipped out then you won’t come back.”

I smiled at her and reached across the dining table to take hold of her petite hands in my own. “Why wouldn’t I come back?” I asked her, rubbing the top of her hands gently with my thumbs.

An Excerpt from, the working title, “Semper Fi”

Written by Nienna Valar


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