The sack of beans bangs against his leg at each step, but that doesn’t stop the boy from running. A smile creeps over his face as he gains speed, and finds strength in the simple movement of his arms and legs pumping a rhythm on the hard-packed street. He’ll make it home in time, he knew, despite stopping at the main square to see the group of protesters pass by.
Ducking into an alley, the boy passes through the scattered debris of the latest struggle in his country. His mother always said to keep to the main streets, but he need to make up time. This route would get him home quicker.
Muffled by the softer dirt in the alley, his steps quiet, and he surprises the group of men on the other side of a sharp corner. He skids to a stop. They raise and turn their heads towards him as one, each with a frown on their face.
“Get home, boy,” one says, “don’t get caught out after dark!”
The man’s rough voice startles the boy into action, and he shuffles past them, but not before catching sight of the bloodied man at their feet. That night the boy would dream of that man, hoping that his neighbors were helping and not hurting him.