Something to Eat

He’s walking home through the corpses hanging from trees, kicking snow up in front of him as he goes. The war rages over the mountain. But he’s walking the other way, and whistling.

Thank god it’s cold. If he hurries, he might avoid the smell of burning guts and rotting altogether.

Two days pass and he finds he’s still walking through avenues of the dead. His soldier clothes have dried but the snow is falling again and he’s shivering. He’s hungry. And then a wonderful vision walks towards him. A fat two year old, a toddler; a girl.

He scoops her up, the bawling little thing getting his collar all wet, and he kisses the top of her head. She wraps her creased, plump little arms around his neck.

That night he cooks her in his cooking pot. But the child won’t cook. The water bubbles and boils but the child’s skin doesn’t redden, and even when he pushes her head under she only looks at him. Her fair hair floats with the bubbles, and after three hours the soldier gives up, and takes her out of the pot.

From that time on the girl follows him, wobbling determinedly on her fat little legs. Her stockings get dirty and she bawls and bawls, until, frightened as he is, he picks her up, for their mutual comfort.

The soldier and his little daughter are wandering still, through the snowy hell, looking for something to eat.