GENRE: Middle grade
When Abby finds out Dad is deploying, a mysterious Snake appears in her backyard, haunting her every move. During the last family campout before Dad leaves, Abby asks her parents if war will ever end. Abby, her brother Jay, and Mom argue prior to this moment.
Abby rolled over so her back was to Mom and Jay. Mom just didn't understand. She didn't remember what it was like when someone tried to hurt you. It made you want to hit back. Hurt them so they'd leave you alone. Sort of like...an animal protecting its home.
Abby's head burst with visions of the Snake, his glittery eyes a camera traveling through time. Wars in mountains. In the air. On water. In sand. Conflicts farther back than she could count and battles happening now. All of them filled with soldiers who lived, coming home to families who took their hands and held tight so they didn't leave again.
And soldiers who died. Their last breath leaving bloodied, broken bodies in a quiet whisper floating through the air.
The movie in Abby's head stopped. That's what made war real. It was the dying that made the difference. Without it, everything else was just rocks. And tents. And trucks. And sand.
Inside her chest, Abby felt her heart crack.
“It doesn't ever end. Does it.”
She lay motionless, wishing Mom and Dad would argue with her. Give her another ‘See? I'm right' look so she'd have to figure out a different, better, answer.
Outside the top of the tent, the sky was still a painting. Only the stars…the leaves on her tree…none of them had as much color as before.