In these sands men had died hundreds of deaths, most of them formulaic. Some parched by the long gaze of the desert sun. Some shot by the enemy. Some consumed by sudden torrents of earth and water.
Little Jerry Sanford’s mother tried to have him play outside as much as she could now. From his favourite position in the sandpit, he looked up from his army men to regard a pair of shoes he had not regarded before. Laces done tight. A dark face haloed by the sun.
“Must they always die?” the figure said, gesturing at the toys.
“Yeah, they kinda have to,” Jerry answered. He entombed one with another handful.
“Well,” the figure paused. “That’s a pretty good understanding.”
Jerry ground the last surviving private into the grit, but felt like there was something he was forgetting. He wondered how long the man had to wait for what he wanted.