Defeated, he stared off at the wall behind his desk unable to bring himself to undress and lie down. No ground had been gained on his final programming assignment that was due in less than two weeks. He knew that he should surrender for the night and try again in the morning but he was too tired to get up.
He thought back to the old days. Back to when he was younger and he had begged his grandfather to tell him war stories. On the occasions when his Grandpa obliged he had held on to every word. Back then he loved war stories. Now he couldn't think of anything worse.
The downtime between assignments over the past month had been spent looking for a character from one of the old stories, but this one had been different. It had had nothing to do with defeating Hitler and the Nazis. This was about how his grandfather had been able to wear shoes throughout the Great Depression.
Today he had found who he had been looking for and he had cried when it happened. The search was over. The archives revealed that somewhere in Eastern France was the great-grand uncle he never knew. On October 9th of 1918 Edward Tucker had died on the front lines of a foreign war becoming one of that centuries' Lost Generation. Great-grand Uncle Tucker was only 25 when he fell in a French forest half a world away from the Tennessee woods in which he had grown up, and ninety-six years later Edward's 25 year old nephew had been weeping for his uncle that never came home.
This was why his Grandfather had been able to wear shoes as a Tennessee farmer's son during the Great Depression.
Edward's pension was given to his sister's family by the United States government. The money amounted to just enough to afford the one pair of shoes each of her children would receive for the year ahead.
His grandfather had always talked about how grateful he had been for those shoes.
It was half past three when he finally got up and made his way towards bed, but his great-grand uncle was still on his mind. As he laid awake he wondered at the 96 years that had gone by since the Fall of 1918 and he found himself fearful of the years that lay ahead. It was 2014 and yet the war stories had largely remained the same. The planet was still covered in front lines and the youth of the world were still becoming the ghosts of lost generations.