You’ll understand when you’re older.
The amount of times people told me that. The amount of things I’ll never understand. Apart from what it’s like to fire a rifle, I guess…and never getting to say goodbye…
“Hey, boy. Snap out of it – they’re coming back.”
The salt water fizzed through the holes of my shoes and reminded me where I was. The woman beside me and I had been belly-down on the shoreline for long enough that waves had dug a trench under us.
The rattle of less distant gunfire echoed from the crumbling suburb, past our footprints in the sand and over our heads – she looked across and saw me not flinch. It just sounds like crickets to me now.
“I’m sorry, kid – you shouldn’t have been forced to fire one of those things.”
I didn’t know how to respond.
“My dad often said, ‘If you don’t die clean, you had no worth living.’ Another wave splashed away an