The girl is standing on the railing of the veranda. Her arms hang over the top for balance so she can get her chin over and tip her head to see onto the street. She feels the sun on one side of her face and turns just her head to warm the other and almost falls back. She grips the fistful of rabbit pellets snatched from the pot of basil tighter. Below the soldiers are marching. It’s a long parade coming over the hill like a row of ants. She wants to wave at them but they only look straight ahead. She remembers the pellets. The soldiers are wearing flat hats and she pictures the pellets bouncing off of the hats. She throws one and misses. And another but she doesn’t wait to see if it hit. She turns away and looks at the empty swallow’s nest under the awningso they won’t think it’s her.
When she looks back they’ve all stopped. One of them looks up. He doesn’t wave. She looks down the road. Inside, she hears her grandmother’s slippers flapping quickly from the kitchen to the front door. The girl turns as far as she can without letting go and looks past the front room’s doorway to the sunlit entrance beyond. Her grandmother is talking to someone she can’t see. She hears words she does not understand. She is relieved. They do not concern her. They didn’t see. She doesn’t throw any more pellets. The parade starts moving again.
Her grandmother comes out to the veranda. The girl steps off the railing she is not allowed to climb. Her grandmother is not angry. She just tells her to come to the kitchen and help her.
It will be many years before the girl learns the words bastard and junta and resistance and the unmentionable “c” word. Many more before she finds out how lucky it was her grandfather had not been home at the time and that her grandmother knew the power of feigning weakness. And still more before she realizes her biggest sin will always be her desire for attention in the midst of bigger things.