In the grand scheme of things the fate of Calvin Innerglot meant nothing. He was just another piece of cannon fodder the top brass would send over the top when his sacrifice was called for.
Calvin was young, didn’t have any special skills, didn’t have a whole lot of intelligence. Chances were his contribution to society would be confined to living on benefits, scrounging for jobs and living space, struggling to keep going. The army provided him with the best chance to make a difference to his country. The recruiters knew this. It hadn’t taken them a lot of convincing to get Calvin to sign on the dotted line.
He was almost immediately put on a plane, to a part of the world that had recently caught fire. His training would be on the job. They hadn’t even left him time to drive home and collect some personal stuff. The army would provide for everything now. Clothes, food, money, perhaps a chance at pride and glory.
When the plane set down on the foreign tarmac, amid a barrage of enemy fire, the top brass decided there was no such thing as serving your country too soon. They sent Calvin Innerglot over the top, in the full knowledge the recruiters had probably already found a replacement, ready to be shipped in immediately.
Back home, Maisie set the table for two. Her older brother hadn’t been home for two days. It wasn’t the first time that had happened, but she was sure he would eventually return. In case that was tonight, she had made Country Chicken, his favourite. She filled her plate and his, and prayed.
“Please, God, let Calvin return home safely.”
And she wondered what pickle he had gotten himself into this time.