The orchard was heavy with the scent of ripe fruit. The sun was hot and a humid breeze carried the sound of children excited about candy. I looked over at Smitty surrounded by five ragged kids, all clamoring for the sweets in his Red Cross box. He was laughing— I’d never heard Smitty laugh.
Brack was playing a guitar. The others were throwing dice in a wooden crate, a pile of dollar bills stuffed under it.
I took a bite of the apple, closed my eyes and drifted off. Aaaaah— home. California. Picking apples with Dad and Jimmy. Swimming in the creek—
The tough nudge of a boot brought me back reaching for my rifle.
“Let’s go, Jackie,” Rockwell said, “we’re moving up to the Gustav Line.” And he yelled at the rest of Charlie Company to saddle up.
I got up and tossed my apple core at Brack.
I guessed this war wanted our attention back.