He stood above the beach he knew, and somehow the scorched trails and half full craters looked like sunbathers and umbrellas. Whoops and cries carried off the spit, from men running at the line of tide, daring it to get their feet wet.
He had once taken a week off school because he didn't want to go in anymore. He stopped eating to prove he was sick, which did actually make him feel a bit off. Everyone lost patience with him quite quickly, and soon he found himself back in class, but without any dinner money - because why would he need it if he wasn't going to eat anything?
Now however, he'd been coughing for weeks. A cough which seized him when he was trying to sleep, or when he'd been stood guard for too long. His eyelids would flash red and black as he hacked and he'd feel alive and dead, alive and dead, until they moved on, or he slept.
He smiled thinly as he braced against the wind. He remembered sand-between-the-feet as one of the most intense pleasures he had ever known, but now the sand was hell ; a ruthless edge to the wind, a constant assault against every inch of skin he was forced to leave exposed.
He looked down again at the beach he knew, the craters were now full and fewer boys and men tested themselves against the sea. The air filled with the smell of sweets, then cordite, as he lent forward to cough again.