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"We are taking heavy fire! I repeat we are taking heavy fire! I need a medic over here now! Keep your head down, son, unless you want to lose it. Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes, men," I said in my best authoritative voice. My mind tends to get pretty noisy whenever bombers, tanks, and machine guns are involved.

"Chris, stop picking at the turkey," my mother demanded before kicking me out of the kitchen and sending me outside. There's no telling what time she got up this morning, but she's been in there all day cooking for what looks like an army. Don't get me wrong, she prepares giant meals pretty much every day, but on Thanksgiving, things get crazy. By the looks of it, we invited everyone on Bend Road.

"You better not be getting dirty, Christopher," I hear through the screen door as my knees embed into the soil beneath our oak. "Yes, ma'am," is my effort to avoid a lie and not tell the truth at the same time. Mom means business because she used my entire first name. Whenever she uses my first, middle, and last name, it means I'm already busted, and there will be consequences. It's wise to avoid those scenarios.

"RAT-A-TAT-A-TAT-A-TATAT! These bullets are flying everywhere. Quick! Take cover," were the last words some of my small green militia heard before meeting their maker. Once we finish burying those poor devils, the remaining troops will have to complete the fort. By now, I'm second-guessing the decision to wear my Sunday clothes outside to play before the celebration. Filth works its way deep under my fingernails as I lay flat on my stomach, digging six-inch graves.

Earlier I was standing by Mom as she cracked the oven to check on her stuffing. The smell escaped filling the room with the sweet aroma of a day that only comes around once a year. Mashed potatoes are my favorite, especially covered in her giblet gravy. I don't even know where to begin with all of the deserts. She makes a squash pie I'm not a giant fan of, but her coconut cake is enchanting. We'll have days of leftovers after the event, and that's fine by me.

"Sir, it would seem as though the enemy has blown up the dam. In a few seconds, the fort will be underwater," screams out my imaginary lieutenant. Before most of the men can make a run for it, I tip over my five-gallon bucket of water onto the frantic soldiers. Many ride the current to safety, but some meet an early demise caught between giant logs from unfinished structures. Alas, my heroic attempt to save a few of these battle-worn fighters was in vain.

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Mom's number one rule at Thanksgiving is that guests aren't allowed to take food home. This rule suites me, but she invites everyone to come back the next day for more, and they do. By the fourth day, all that's left is turkey and cranberry sauce. There's nothing like a good turkey sandwich with a bit of Velveeta squished between white bread. I'm pretty sure everyone ends up at my house because Mama is the best cook in Salem.

"KABOOM!" The leftover firecracker I'd buried in the muck explodes, sending my lime-colored squadron flying. Specks of mud are all up and down my arm and cover my face like chickenpox. It's a good thing I wear glasses because that could have put an eye out. By the time the smoke clears, all that's left are the mangled remains of my warriors. Bowing my head, I say an earnest prayer for the brave who have fallen on this holiday.

Speaking of prayer, if I don't make it inside soon to clean up, I'll be needing plenty of help from Baby Jesus. The house is full of people, but I may be able to sneak past to grab some fresh clothes. Everyone is either watching television or helping Mom finish up, so it should be a cinch. Before I even manage to get one foot in the door, I hear, "Christopher Ray Sherron." I should have stayed on the battlefield.

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