Reese’s body shook with staccato beats he could no longer tell apart. Rain rattled against metal sheets, thumped against tarps. Machine guns fired. Bullets struck concrete and sandbags, hard earth and soft flesh. His own heart drove blood through his brain, which pounded with the mother of all headaches. The world was a brass band with him nestled in the kettle drum.
Sergeant Green shouted at him, but he couldn’t hear it. All he heard was banging, booming, until an explosion behind him mercifully stifled all sound. Silence. Silence and a fiery pain in his leg—
“Grandpa?” a tiny voice said.
Reese looked down and there was Evelyn, her tiny hand folded into his. “Yes, sweetheart?” he said, voice catching in his throat.
“I said aren’t the fireworks pretty?” She smiled up at him, her dark eyes reflecting the brilliant colors overhead. He smiled back.
A few minutes later the show was over, and Reese limped over to where the rest of his family waited with iced tea and hamburgers.