“Stop it, TJ, you’re doin’ it wrong!”
“Shut up, Alex, I am not.” Chalk staining his fingers, TJ drew a double inverted arrow, piercing the center of the circle.
“Are, too!” Alex crouched beside his brother, careful not to smudge the lines. “That’s not the way Mom showed us—”
Donnie’s window muffled the clank of swords and the pop of rifles as if they were being played from an old radio. He hopped from his bed, walked over his array of toy soldiers on the floor, and watched the bright display along the shore.
When he woke the next morning his neck ached from sleeping with his head on the sill. The beach was calm and quiet in the dawning light.
“Just a dream, Donnie,” his dad said at breakfast, when Donnie told him of the battle on the beach. “This summer home is old and creaky. You’re just not used to it yet.”
“Eat up,” said his mom, pushing a plate of pancakes in front of his doubtful face.
When his parents settled into their Adirondack chairs on the porch with their coffee and their books, Donnie went down to the beach. An unusual rusty odor haunted the salty air as he walked along the edge of the water, letting the waves wash over his feet.
Something brushed against his ankle. Bending over, he plucked a small bullet casing from the water and rolled it his fingers, then he walked toward the fort.
Gerald saw the shadowy figure twice before; drifting between corpses in no-man’s-land, wavering in the dark. Nerves, he convinced himself. But this time, as it stood in the trench only feet away, there was no easy explanation.
His rifle leveled on the intruder.
Behind the folds of hood topping the black-robed figure, an even voice answered:
“So, you can see me.”