Originally written in February of 2011…
“Tell me a story!” the kid said to the old man as they walked through a thin layer of ice and snow.
The old man stopped and looked down at the girl. The kid had her hand wrapped around two of the fingers on the old man’s left hand. He reached up and scratched his head and got a confused look on his face.
“Kid, I don’t think I’ve got any good stories you wanna hear.”
“Come on, grandpa!” the girl whined. “Daddy said you fought in a real war. You’ve just gotta have some stories to tell!”
They started walking down the dirt road again. The old man looked up into the sky and let his mind wander. His mind carried him back nearly 45 years to a dense jungle. He could still hear the bullets flying by as he sought cover. He could still see his fellow soldiers falling around him. He could still feel the joy mingled with guilt after having survived when so many others died.
“I can’t tell you about war, girl.” The old man let out a heavy sigh. He looked at his granddaughter and saw the disappointment written all over her face. “What if I tell you about when I got home from the war?”
“Aww, grandpa,” the child started whining again. “That’s not exciting. Daddy said you came home and met grandma.”
“Sure I did, eventually,” the old man began. His imagination started working. Could he come up with an exciting story for the kid? “But first I spent a couple years as a spy.”
“Really?” This got the girl excited again. “Who did you spy on?”
The old man had to think fast. “I went to Russia to keep an eye on a bad man named… uh… Rasputin.”
“Did you just make that up, grandpa?” the girl asked.
“No, it’s just been a really long time. Some of the names and places are kind of fuzzy.”
“So what did Rasputin do?”
The old man thought some more. “Well, he was a tricky fella. He had plans for a secret weapon that would have caused a lot of damage if he’d gotten a chance to build it. Luckily, your old grandpa was there to mess things up for him.”
“What’d you do?”
“I snuck into old Rasputin’s office over in Moscow and went through his files. When I found the plans for his super weapon, I dropped them into the trashcan and set them on fire.” The old man was starting to feel guilty for lying to the girl. But his granddaughter looked happy with the story she was hearing.
Eventually, the girl would figure out that Rasputin was someone completely different in history. She’d figure out that the old man led a boring life after the war. He was no spy. He was a husband and a father. Eventually, he was a grandfather. That was the real story. And it was a story that the kid would learn on her own someday. But, today, the story the kid heard was one of complete fiction.