our little soldiers

"Can we talk about perfection?"

Sam pulled her head off the table and rolled her eyes up at me. "Matty. It's 6:30 in morning. Are your thoughts even walking in straight lines yet?"
Hers obviously weren't.

Still, I persisted. "Perfection. What is it?"

She sighed. "Can this wait until I get my coffee?" She sighed yet again when she saw my scowl. "Fine. Perfection. What do you think it is?"

I hated when she did that, and she knew it. She grinned impishly at me, her cheeks curving her eyes into wrinkled half-moons. I drummed my fingers on the sticky diner table and bit my lip. Over the last week, I'd pondered this question for hours on end, and yet, when push came to shove, I had nothing to say. Nothing I could say. Not that Sam would laugh at me, but I wasn't sure if she would understand. She, of all people, should understand, but I was afraid that, at this important moment, she would fail me.

I decided to take the easy way out.

"Perfection is something we can never obtain."

The waitress walked by and presented Sam with her steaming coffee. She took a deep breath, basking in the heavy scent, and then said, "True.Text book answer, but true. But can I ask you a question?"

"You already asked me two," I grumped. Her coffee smelled good, to my chagrin. Maybe I should've bought some...

"Do you think, that since we can never obtain perfection, we shouldn't even try?"

I gave her a look. "Aren't you a Christian? They believe in achieving perfection, don't they?"

She ran fingers through her messy hair. "No, we believe in following Christ's footsteps, which is as close to perfection as we can get. But that's what I believe. What about you?"

"Ummm..." I squirmed a little under her laser-like vision. "I think striving for perfection is the one thing that keeps from us failing, so I guess yeah, I do believe we should try for it." Even in my own ears, my words sounded hollow and false. I kept my eyes on the salt and pepper shakers--eye contact was not an option.

"But is failing always a bad thing?"


"Don't you think failure is a beautiful thing?" she persisted.

"I think it's pathetic," I replied.
"But don't you see how amazing it is, that we can sink to the very pith of our existence and rise up again at moments notice?"
"Or we can stay in the dark forever."
"True, but there will always be potential to move upwards."

I shook my head at her, smirking a little. "Have you ever seen someone sink that low? It's not beautiful. It hurts." As I said that, my heart twisted a little. It hurt more than she could ever imagine.

"It's a beautiful pain, tho." She seriously would not give up on this tangent of hers. I sighed and without thinking, reached across the table to take her hand like I would with my sister. She froze, then gave me the evil eye. I withdrew quickly and gulped a little. Slipped up again.

"Pain is never beautiful. Trust me on this." My throat scratched and tightened like I had a ball of cotton lodged in it. "You know how Colton says I'm suffering from acute depression. That came from pain. Depression is pain. Depression is like being sucked into a black hole. Depression is losing it all."

She just looked at me, her face as a blank slate. "Matthew."

"Sam," I copied.

She shook her head. "No, don't break the mood with sarcasm, mister. We're talking here, and we're not going to be sidetracked."

I bit my tongue. This girl knew me inside and out and that scared me.

"I never said that pain doesn't hurt. I just said that it was beautiful, to me. Because I have something else. I took the gift of Christ--the painkiller, I guess you could say. It still hurts, so much. But at least I know I'm going to get out. At least I know I'm not alone."

"Says the girl who ran away from home and won't go back." The moment the words left my lips I regretted them.

She glowered at me. "We all have our own struggles, Matthew North. Perfection? I'm not it. Understand that, okay?"

And with that, she got up and left.


  1. Cold and beautiful. And very raw.

  2. Wow, did you write this? This is very, very good. Inspiring for my own writing endeavors.


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