Gran stops him on his way out the door.
“Just a minute. What’s that you have there?”
He holds out the magnifying glass. It is a splendid thing, solid bronze, the lens hand ground to perfect clarity. It had been her grandfather’s.
“And what are you going to do with this, may I ask?”
“I want to look at the ants, Gran.”
The boy is six. His expression is cheerful, innocent.
“You’ll be careful with that glass, then? It’s a valuable antique.”
“I’ll be careful, Gran.” His tone is flat, sincere. Without guile.
She nods now. “Off you go, then.”
She watches him cross the lawn, the noon sun shining on his black hair. He squats down and peers at the ground through the glass. She watches him for a long time, but does not see the thin tendril of smoke rising from where he focuses the sun through his glass, how the boy godlike incinerates the tiny insects as they charge out of the hole, the pile of charred corpses growing higher and higher as he moves the bright dot to and fro.
Later, at dinner, he hides his delight at this newfound power to cause death with fire.
He cannot wait for tomorrow to come.