Off to Face the Coming Night
The boy, for he was no more than a boy no matter how he might protest, shifted his heavy belt and tugged his watch cap into place. His smile was a quiet act of defiance and denial. The night would be long and in all likelihood bloody.
His mother feigned eye contact by looking into his forehead, “I’ve packed ye some biscuits n’ grease. Tisn’t much, but them’s rations. Be a brave lad. Say hello to the old man fer me.”
He wanted to say something wise. He wanted to say something reassuring. He wanted to say something profound.
“Thanks for the biscuits,” was all he could manage before wandering through an awkward hug and into the fading light. Nervous hands snuffed fires that might draw attention. Weary arms shuttered windows tight. Old peg-legged Harold offered a wave and a half-hearted thumbs up.
The boy trotted along, though every ounce of sense in his young head said to go the other way. He must go the wall. He must do his duty.
He must face the darkness that so defined life in Camp 17.