A Marine’s Rifle

By Hans Allen

Jimmy knelt in the sand and held the rifle by its barrel. The desert cooled as the falling sun stained the sky orange, pink, and red. Jimmy stared at jagged mountains that rose like shark’s teeth in the distance. His grip on the rifle tightened as the noise of shuffling feet and murmuring voices inched up his neck. He would have to go soon. Go back to the mountains, back to crawling up scree, ducking behind boulders, and trying not to get devoured. Jimmy rested his head against the rifle for a long moment before standing. He took a step back and came to attention. Raising his hand to his helmet, he saluted the dog tags that hung from the rifle and the boots that stood empty on either side.

“Goodbye, John.”