It was the startled cry from indoors that brought him to his feet and his trembling fingers dropped the plastic figure; the toy soldier lay consigned to death as he was carelessly trodden on and buried face-down in mud.
Chilled by the shrieks from his house the small boy ran, his grubby knees weak and scared, and he yanked open the back door and took a stand.
His mother cowered and bleeding glanced up in dread and tried to wave him away, but her son failed to see the knife shining in her hand, and with blinding terror of his own he swung his fists at his inebriated father.
The man towered and hollered and bear hands grabbed at the skinny child, and even with a knife deep within his back and another aimed at his barren heart, his drunken hands gripped tighter and tighter.
And dirty hands, once angry pummelling fists, dropped and fell open, and the little soldier gave himself for another.