“He always told us he would love England and teased he’d marry an ‘English Rose’ and never come back. But he never got the Rose and he never came back...”
“Say,” said Freddy, wanting to change the subject, “do you think those old sheep skulls are still around here? We sure had a tough time convincing ma that we needed them for school. I think she knew all along we wanted them for ourselves.”
George looked around outside the fort; finally going over to what was left of the door and looked inside.
“Good thing Eric spoke up for us and told ma we needed them for school,” he said to Freddy, as he finally spotted the skulls under the debris by what was left of the window. “‘Member how ma kept asking us what the teacher did with them in school? I had a heck of a time coming up with excuses for not bringing ‘em back home.”
“Remember the curse we put on anyone who tried to break into the fort?” laughed Freddy. “It was the last time Eric played with us, and we danced around those skulls for the whole afternoon, putting every kind of hex and curse on them we could think of. Eric didn’t think much of the idea to dribble red paint on them so it would look like blood, he said we didn’t need red paint; the smell alone would drive off any idiot fool enough to go into the fort in the first place.”
He turned and looked at his younger brother and grinned, “Good times, eh? You go on back to the house George; I’ll just stay here awhile.”
The fir trees sighed, and the leaves on the cottonwood quivered in the light evening breeze as the sun began to fall into the field by the stream.
The Sunday bells on the old white church down the way began to toll; memories stole out of the cracks of the old fort and sat beside Freddy.
A tear ran down his cheek unnoticed, as in his mind’s eye he watched three boys running down the hill, laughing and rough housing as young boys do. He watched them go into the new fort and heard their shrieks of laughter as they spilled out the door holding their sheep skull trophies overhead. The biggest boy danced with abandon, until he was exhausted and threw himself down on the grass.
The two young boys sat at his feet listening with rapt adoration as he told a story of honour and pride and the glories of war.
* * * *