A boy plays in his front yard. You have three paragraphs to help us imagine this boy. What country are we in? Which details help communicate this? Is there an elm tree or an olive tree in his yard? Maybe there is no tree at all. How old is this boy? What color is his hair? What is he wearing? You get the idea.
“Felipe, halika na, uwi na.” Murky brown mud sludges in between the gaps of his moss coloured rubber tsinelas as he makes his way through what had been his family’s front yard. The boy, barely seven years old, walks with the gait of one who is seventeen. His wide brown eyes carefully survey the wreck before him — aside from the refuse of soil and water, there are bits of rusty ochre tin scattered around. There are also spikes of mud-covered wood thrown about the ground. Yet his eyes are searching for something. A hint of red gingham submerged in muddy debris catches his attention and he quickly scampers towards that.
“Felipe, halika na, uwi na.” The boy pays no attention to his elder cousin’s voice — the treasure he’s been set on finding is just inches away from his reach. His slight fingers wrap around the fabric. He gives a gentle pull. The treasure is buried deep. He carefully digs through the rubble with his bare hands until at last the prized possession is uncovered.
“Felipe, halika na, uwi na.” The pretty little rag doll is not as damaged as he had thought it would be. He had thought it would need a lot of good sewing, but upon inspecting it, it seems that all the limp, pale toy with the red checkered dress and big black button eyes with faint chew marks would require is a good washing. Ate Ella washes clothes really well. His school uniform — the faded blue cotton one adorning him now — was in an even worse condition when his cousin found him floating through city’s cloudy flood waters in it. Yes, Ate Ella can wash Lily. A small smile makes its way into the boy’s dirty brown face as he imagines his younger sister’s eyes lighting up as they meet Lily’s button ones. He skips towards his cousin, charcoal hair bouncing; his springy steps full of childlike innocence. For that brief moment, Felipe turns seven again.