Him in the Dust

by James Matthews


Portsmouth, UK, late 2005

I have a secret, however, it's not what you think. But you know secrets are funny things? You have them, but you almost always tell someone, so the very notion of a secret is nonsense. But this secret could cost lives, so it's going to remain my secret. At least for now!

So where do we begin? Well, let me tell you who I am. My name is Seb Biden, I'm 18 and, according to my parents, I am a proud serving Pvt in the British Army...just!. 'Proud,' as in what my parents are, not me….And 'just', because 2 days ago I finished my Basic Training.

More about that later!

So let me just say from the outset, I come from a military family, in fact a long line of them as my father likes to remind everyone, so it was natural that I join, too. Natural for them, of course, not me. Joining the army was not something I really wanted to do, but when you're brainwashed by your parents to join, you can end up doing it without even knowing why. Hmm; well that's how it seemed in my mind anyway. No, my passion was to become a jockey. You see, my love of horses far outweighed my love of the army. I'd ridden horses since I was just out of nappies.

I think my mum supported me in private, but never in front of my dad. She was an army wife after all, and so in a way she was brainwashed into that life herself. She'd say she fell in love with the man, not the military, but over the years the lines became blurred and she now went along with everything he said.

My dad, a retired military man himself, is void of emotion. His life is the military, still, but he does not speak about himself. Everything about my dad is honour, status and pride. He tells his military conservative friends that he produced children of good stock. Both of us blond, blue eyes and strong. A horrifying thing, to think of yourself as an item. I think he loves us. Still, he is a good dad, and a problem solver, but strict and concrete in his views. What he said went and when all was said and done my brother and I just did as we were told.

Oh, did I tell you I had an older brother? No I didn't, did I? Well, yeah, Robbie. He's 21 and you guessed it, army! Stationed in Germany actually, and he says it's pretty good there, when we actually get to talk to him. He writes mostly. My mum always says a good letter is better than a thousand emails. But we talk on the phone a little. He asks me how I am, and I say the same back and that is it, the phone goes back to mum.

So yeah, back to horses! I was one of those awkward kids in my early teens without many friends and much more comfortable down at the stables. I would take my neighbour's horse Joey out for walks and runs. I'd gotten really good by the time I was 12, but when I reached 15 my dad hadx put his foot down, and between him and my mum they said that I should j

oin the Army Cadets. 'Go be like your brother,' they said. 'Go live some outdoor life!' Outdoors? I was always outdoors. Anyway, I applied. I did because I was told to, and if you're my dad's son, you do what you're told. But in my head I had a plan. I thought once I joined I could bide my time in the Cadets and when I was 18 I could get out. That was when I could launch into my passion of becoming a jockey, having satisfied my parents that I had stuck a uniform on and done a few expeditions and learnt some survival skills.

I thought I'd hate it, but I had no choice. However, in tandem, I thought it much better to do something military now to excite my dad, and then I can go ride horses hopefully with his blessing after.

The thing is, to my surprise, I loved it in the Cadets, and realized that maybe the army wouldn't be such a bad career choice. Well, now I'm 18! Was I destined to be a Jockey at five-foot-eleven?

Far too tall! Very fit, but I'd be useless as a jockey, right? My heavy lump on the horse would slow the poor thing down. I mean I can't lose height. Maybe the army was a good choice. Would I like it? Better than being a slow jockey, right?

Were these my thoughts? Was this my life? Who said I would be a poor, slow, useless jockey?

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead