Just Young Boys Playing War

Written by Sonora for the game Snap Shot, writing prompt #24

I like to watch the children play in the water.

Their tiny hands clapping and smacking water droplets into the air. The sun always shines brighter when they play. Sometimes they skip rocks, or chase each other through the shallows.

The stream here isn’t deep enough to swim in, but they hunker up — pull their knees to their chins and let the water tickle their ears.

“Let’s be submarines!” They shout, and plow through the rocks and explode branches out into the woods. “Death to the enemy.”

They hide their sister’s bracelet in the pebbles, telling each other they must protect the treasure. The children roll on their backs like whales, plotting their next attack among the minnows.

Their little sister cries later, when they can’t find the bracelet. They go home, shoulders hunched up and pouts on their faces.

I leave my hiding spot that night, and fish the loop of braided grass out from the weeds. It’s so tiny in my palm. I remember being that small once, wrapped tight in my mother’s arms or playing with my own siblings.

We played war too, ambushing each other in our father’s barn.

“You wouldn’t play that if you knew what it was like,” our mother would scold us when we hit too hard with our sticks.

But we didn’t listen, did we.