In the Sandbox With the White Queen



Rays of winter sun illuminate the platinum hair of a five year-old boy playing in a sand box in the front yard of a medium-size house somewhere in Alabama. The year is 1970. The boy hums to himself as he arranges things in the sand to create the imaginary world of his play. There are green plastic toy soldiers, a small table and chair delicately crafted from an aluminum can, blocks of wood, Hot Wheels cars, scraps of paper and twigs. 

Anne Hathaway, dressed as the White Queen, appears and crosses the yard toward the boy. She arrives at the sandbox and sits on the edge, smiling down at the boy. He looks up to acknowledge her, flashes a closed-lipped smile, and goes back to work. After a few minutes—

ANNE HATHAWAY: Whatchu got there?

BOY: Nothin’

ANNE HATHAWAY: It looks like a whole lot more than nothin’ to me!

The boy has placed large square blocks and bricks alongside a trench into which he has poured water. 

ANNE HATHAWAY: Is that a river?

BOY: (pleased that she can see it) uh hu.

ANNE HATHAWAY: And are those buildings on the banks of the river?

BOY: Uh hu.

The boy has taken two pieces of broken two-by-four and stuck them in the sand next to one another creating twin skyscrapers. Anne Hathaway points to them. 

ANNE HATHAWAY: Are those buildings as well?

BOY: Uh hu.

ANNE HATHAWAY: They’re very tall.

BOY: Uh hu. They’re the tallest. They get knocked down.

ANNE HATHAWAY: Knocked down? What could be big enough to knock down buildings as big as these?

BOY: Airplanes.

ANNE HATHAWAY: Those must be some very big airplanes.

BOY: Airplanes and bombs.

ANNE HATHAWAY: And bombs! My! Who would do such a thing?

BOY: Rich men.

ANNE HATHAWAY: (a look of concern) I see.

The boy produces a small metal airplane, a tiny replica of a commercial aircraft. He flies it toward one of the buildings making jet engine noises with his mouth. The sound he makes is quickly replaced by the earsplitting loud roar of real jet engines as a Boing 767 flies low over the yard with an ensuing wind which wildly whips everything in the yard for a few seconds. A large flash of light comes from an explosion off screen. A huge gray cloud of dust and debris sweeps the yard in the opposite direction of the plane’s trajectory. 

Recycling the same toy airplane, the boy flies a second plane into the second tower. A second flash of fire from off screen is followed by another rolling tide of debris and smoke.

In the wake of the second cloud of dust, Anne Hathaway looks at the boy. Tears make tracks in the dust on his face. 

BOY: Now we go to war.

The boy lines up several of the green plastic soldiers in the sand. With both hands he bulldozes them toward the wall of the sandbox. He makes war sounds with his mouth which are presently joined by the sound of real weapons fire around them in the yard. Marines in dessert camouflage run from one covered position to the next. Continued sounds of explosions and machine gun fire fill the air together with shouts in Arabic and English. Anne Hathaway leans over the boy to protect him from errant rounds. The boy pushes the toy soldiers the rest of the way into the wall. The sights and sounds of war around the yard disappear. 

ANNE HATHAWAY: What happens now?

BOY: Some of them come home.

The boy gathers three or four of the toy soldiers in his hand, pushes the rest beneath the sand in a symbolic burial. He brushes the sand off the survivors and dumps them back into the “city.” He stares at them for several seconds. 

The boy reaches beneath the sand and withdraws a shiny chrome 9mm pistol. Before he even has it in his hands for two seconds—

ANNE HATHAWAY: Ooooh! I think I’ll take care of that.

With thumb and index finger she takes the weapon from the child and drops it into her bag. With the purpose of redirecting his attention, she points to one of the buildings on opposite bank of the river from where the towers stood. 

ANNE HATHAWAY: What’s this building?

BOY: That’s where the man lives.

He takes one of the toy soldiers and places it by the large wooden block representing the building. 

BOY: It has lots of windows. It’s in the city but you can see the city across the river. The city is very big.

The boy takes a second toy soldier and places it by the other. 

ANNE HATHAWAY: Who’s that?

BOY: That’s the other man. He lives there too.

The boy places the toy soldier next to the other—then pushes them closer together.

BOY: (to Anne Hathaway) Can you come back again?

ANNE HATHAWAY: I can come back anytime you like.

The boy returns to his play.

BOY: Thank you.

Anne Hathaway reaches in her bag and pulls out a cloak of deep purple. She throws the cloak over the boy, it covers him completely and becomes invisible as soon as it lands on him.

ANNE HATHAWAY: (he cannot hear her) For protection.

She again reaches in the bag and withdraws a small bejeweled sterling silver spider. She places the spider on the boy’s shoulder. 

ANNE HATHAWAY: (again he does not hear) A symbol of your future craft, a talisman and a totem.

The spider comes to life, runs inside the boy’s ear and disappears. 

Anne Hathaway reaches into her bag and withdraws a small velvet pouch. She places her hand inside and takes a small pinch of invisible power. She sprinkles it over the boy’s head and shoulders.

ANNE HATHAWAY: (unheard by the boy) For tenacity.

She kneels in the sandbox beside the tiny city, facing the boy. She leans in unseen by him and kisses him on the chest. 

ANNE HATHAWAY: (heard only by the heavens) To heal your broken hearts.

Suddenly she is seated where she had been before. The boy looks up and they exchange a knowing look and then a smile. 

The boy places tiny wildflowers on the graves of the dead soldiers. 

He looks up again and The White Queen has disappeared. 

BOY’S MOTHER: (from inside) Jeffrey! It’s time to come inside!

The boy sighs. 

BOY: (to the toy soldier couple) See y’all tomorrow.

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