Maybe I Should’ve Lied

The teacher asked
me to come to the class
and talk about flying.
He was my son’s teacher and
the jet’s always popular.

How fast? How high?
Pretty standard stuff.
I wore my flight suit
and handed out stickers even
though they weren’t toddlers.

One kid asked
if I killed anybody.
I was surprised and
shouldn’t have been.
I told him the truth.

Later that day,
in the squadron,
I asked a buddy
what he would’ve done.
I would’ve lied, he said.

I answered the question
in front of my son.
The only time it has come up.
“That’s what happens in combat.”
Next question, please.


Eric “Shmo” Chandler flew 145 F-16 combat sorties during seven trips downrange. His story “Chemical Warfare” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize this year. Visit to read his published fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. He’s a husband and father who cross-country skis as fast as he can in Duluth, Minnesota.”

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