Friday, January 24, 2014


Today we think in terms of Alpha and Omega; First and Last! This is fitting, being the FIRST prompt of the new association with CREATIVE BLOOMINGS. We certainly don't plan on it being the LAST by any stretch of the imagination!

Make a list of five "firsts" in your life. Your first car. Your first child. Your first day at school...

Then make a list of five "lasts" in your life. The last time you saw..., Down to your last dime. Your last day at work...

Now choose one of these that stands out most, and write a piece of flash fiction placing your character in that situation and how they would deal with it. And you can veer from the "script" at any time! Let your imagination soar.

For a bit of a challenge combine one of your "firsts" with one of your "lasts" and write that! I bought my first car with my last dime. The first day at school was the last time I saw..., The last day at work before my first child was born. It changes the dynamic a bit.

Give it your best shot and post your story below. We all have a way of spinning a tale! Add a link to your blog. We'd like to read whatever else you've been writing! 

And remember, on FLASHY FICTION FRIDAY, everyone has a "little" story to tell!


  1. Recall

    My word, that’s Skipper Haley, sure as I’m born. I didn’t recognize him right away—well, we’ve both grown old, white hair, a bit thick in the middle, wrinkles showing too well how we’ve felt about the lives we led. But isn’t it strange how you forget entirely someone you loved—really loved—in your youth not even noticing that they still rent space in you. Like some hibernating tenant, they barely come or go, just occupy space, staying indoors and sending rent. But now, here he is, looking old but very much himself, still fit enough, looking more like his mama than his dad, though those blue eyes are Haley eyes. I loved those eyes once and now that I talk of it, I still do. Even his grandma had eyes so blue she looked other-worldly, a leprechaun or elf, though she stood nearly six feet tall. Those eyes always looked up to something, humorous and clever, busy perceptive eyes. His grandma, papa, him, all of them sweep over me, just their image smiling and sweet and make me wistful. I love him still this minute and that somehow moves me, like seeing the ghost of your parents after so long, though I speak to them every day. It will take me a bit of time to regroup and analyze just why there’s tears coming now. That I forgot him? That he still lives in me? That he was once cruel to me and felt it was necessary to be so? That I meant most of what I said and so forgave but never forgot?
    Last time I saw him, after I returned from two years in China, he’d invited me to his house to see how Chinese he’d made it. When I arrived, he seemed to have forgotten the invitation, but asked me in, introduced his cats and dog, dusted off a spot for me to sit, and wondered what brought me there. Looking at his eyes, I understood all those years of drugs during and after Vietnam had their effect. Memory shot. He shortly warmed to telling stories of his sisters and parents whom he said I’d like, forgetting that I knew them for five years and loved them. He listened to a few stories of China, of the student movement and massacre, of sites seen and travels in Asia.
    Leaving, he said in mangled mass three Chinese words he half remembered. I corrected them, “Wo ai ni”. I love you. I saw in his face that this was not sentiment but a word game. At my car door, he said quietly, “You know, Babs, you were the first girl I ever asked to marry me, the first one I ever loved. Do you remember?” Memory is convenient at best.
    “I’m glad you think so,” I said. “Do you remember Ruth Sloop? You were engaged to her before you went to Vietnam.” His eyes search the corners of his brain and the distant sky for a flicker of memory.
    “Oh, yeah. Ruth. Forgot about her.” We bid one another goodbye, good life, knowing this was pretty much it. What would be the point of reminiscing with someone who would forget an engagement, a war, and five years of loving someone like me?
    Maybe that’s why I’m choked up by seeing him now, an old man with rights to memories that play tricks. I’ve become him, forgetting him so long, not the flicker of a thought for months, then maybe a card from his dad who loves me still. A lovely old man, gone now.
    But for me, Skipper was my first serious love affair, my introduction to sex and self-seduction, fear and tolerance. Perhaps it’s only right that my memory has held onto details that needed a rest, to feelings never sorted out completely. Maybe cocaine would redistribute or diminish my facts in a pleasing way as his has done.
    I order breakfast and wait to see if he will recognize me. We don’t really need an encounter. We’ve known where we stand for years. But, you know, it sure is good to see he’s yet alive. I hope he found someone that he could love, someone besides his pets, that he could always recall with fondness.

  2. sorry, friends. my paragraphs and indentions just went away.

    1. If I may Jane, I might be able to fix those paragraphs! The indents may be more stubborn, but I'll try. I enjoyed the story very much. Good effort!

    2. Apparently, it is not as forgiving as wordpress in "repairing" these miscues. My breaks show, so I'm curious why yours did not, Jane.

    3. I've found that when I cut and paste on here, I have to go back and put the extra lines back between paragraphs. Indents don't work. Like standard HTML, it displays five spaces in a row as a single space. I don't know if it would take standard escape characters or not. I can always test it out and let everyone know. I've just accepted that there will be no paragraph indents.


    He saw her from a distance, a waif with a broad smile and bright eyes and a gait that would mesmerize. Waiting for something, someone perhaps and his lapse of concentration was telling. The players were yelling "GET IN THE GAME!"

    Blake Daley was his name. Confident and sure with numbers, but horribly bad on the frozen ponds around which he worked. He blamed weak ankles as a kid. Blake never came forward with his lack of interest in anything athletic. When Blake was asked to act in the role of statistician for the rink, he reluctantly jumped at the chance.

    But now his thoughts were elsewhere. There across the rink in the bleachers, where she sat with her friend. And she'd glance over and see him watching. He was far from inconspicuous. When their eyes met on those occasions, she'd grin widely and his cheeks would assume a bright shade of fluster. Blake was nervous around girls. Especially one as striking as Carol.

    Her eyes were rich like cocoa, hot and searing, endearing himself to her. Her smile showed brightly, a wide grin full of Chiclets which she wore proudly like her badge of honor. Carol's hair was the hue of autumn's height, alight with the auburn which he associated with warmth and comfort. And there she was, so near. So far away.

    The combatants completed their task. The game was over with little fanfare. And Blake decided he could no longer stare. He was determined to meet the one so fair with crimson hair.

    As Blake approached her, Carol's friend excused herself leaving the two to close the gap between them or fail miserably trying. Blake would be lying if he admitted to not being nervous. But her demeanor calmed him. Her look was soothing and inviting. Silent introductions and handshakes. His hand sliding to grip her elbow to help her keep balance on the rickety bleachers. And it stayed there as they shuffled to the aisle for their short descent to the exit.

    "Can I call?" he asked shyly; softly.

    "Do you have a pen?" she smiled.

    As she wrote, Carol glanced up at Blake and their eyes embraced each other in looks of future's promise. Her smile remained, a Cheshire cat in the frigid hockey rink,

    Carol returned the pen and slid the scrap of paper into his gloved hand. And she leaned in... a tender kiss catching the corner of his lip.

    A gentle peck. Their first "kiss". He prayed it would last a lifetime!


    My I borrow your pen?

    He pressed it hard into a sheet of paper to coax the ink to flow, and then handed it to her. She signed the sales contract, and then absentmindedly dropped the pen into her purse. It was her first new car, and she’d just bought herself that scent of clean leather, that new scent that only comes with a brand-new car. No scratches, no scuffs from little shoes on the back of the driver’s seat, no dog hair embedded into the carpet like a secret code, and no smell of cigarette smoke.

    She shook hands with the salesman, and stepped outside into the cold winter air. Just one last time, she told herself, reaching into her purse. She pulled a cigarette from the pack, lit it with the Zippo that her son gave her as a gift, and then choked the pack with a crush of her fist – the way those ciggies had choked cash from her pocket for too many years. She tossed the crumbled pack into the bin but kept the lighter. She always kept things given her as gifts. Ungrateful she wasn’t. Maybe someone else could use it in the future. She pulled a long drag on the cigarette, and snuffed it out under her foot.

    Her last cigarette, and her first brand-new car. All in one day.

  5. I am a real newby here. my word count was 876 or so, but it is telling me at most my HTML must be 4096. I am lost. Help!

  6. Ellen, find a natural break in your story and save half, posting it in two parts. I've done this with several stories to avoid chopping up a good piece! You'll get used to the site quickly.

  7. Thanks Walt. You're my hero! This is my first flash fiction! :)

  8. First Account

    Carolyn had been writing poetry pretty much since she could write. That which first put in an appearance in second grade followed right through life. It had become a shadow companion, finishing off her edgy nature like a blanket stitch. Sometimes it showed great attention to detail, with other times just being enough to keep her from unraveling altogether.

    Even after she got her first computer, she still wrote in long hand, and always kept the originals. This was the closest she had ever come to journaling, and believed that if she read it out from the original, the variances in her calligraphy-du-jour—leaning right or left, open or closed, mixture of print and script would carry through the original intention of the piece.

    For most of her writing life, she had usually channeled whatever had been spinning in her head for the past week or two. The process would start with a random idea or observation, swirling around and around like a whirlpool. With each turn it picked up more bits of literary cohesion, becoming more focused, more tightly bound. Finally, it would burst out like water through a drain, leaving her to make a mad scramble for pen and paper, so as not to lose a drop. Like an esoteric message from the Great Beyond, out it would flow on to the page, occasionally requiring no more than a minor tweak or two.

    Then, like a Chagall or Van Gogh, she would sign her name, with the date; a masterpiece for the ages. Back in high school she went through an “e.e.cummings” phase, and signed everything with just her lower case initials, c.j.w. Around that same period, she didn't bother to date them. It wasn't until later on that she could appreciate marking them in time. As for her full name, Carolyn Joan Wilson, she never was really satisfied with how it sounded, but that was who she was, right?

    The times in her life when she had written a poem for a specific occasion had been few and far between. When Carolyn was in college, being on the staff of the school paper had yielded several decent feature stories and editorials. A little later, she had hammered (as in hard work) a few chapters of the memoir she had always wanted to write. They were pretty good, as far as they went, but she was totally unprepared for the magnitude tsunami of writer's block that stripped her mind. It was like she had almost forgotten how to put one word after another.

    She could no longer find a way to talk about herself in a manner that others might find worth reading. Maybe if she could only just annotate her stories with hand gestures. That animated style had always worked well when speaking about herself, something she often did without problem. She was, after all, one of her favorite topics.


  9. But writing fiction? Her friend Beth had challenged her to a contest she had found on-line. “Write a short, short story. Up to 1500 words. Submit by the end of next week. The winner will be published in the following edition of the blog's e-zine.” Of course, there were those that held to the notion that every word out of Carolyn's mouth was fiction. There was always that.

    Carolyn's life flew by like a super roller coaster. Trouble tended to find her, the way water found a sponge. In addition to that, she could probably lay claim to being the poster child for Murphy's Law. That is a popular phrase that basically states that, if anything can go wrong, it will. The classic example offered is that if you drop a piece of buttered bread on the floor, it will always land butter side down. It seemed that this was the primary law of physics that governed Carolyn's life.

    She could be in line at a government office, and when it was her turn, something would go wrong with the computer system, or the electric grid, or something, giving rise to the clerk's comment of, “Gee, I've never seen that happen before.” Or she could go for a blood test, and the phlebotomist who had been drawing blood painlessly for twenty years would end up poking around in her arm for ten minutes to find a vein. Or to the doctor who would receive the same blood test and proclaim: “In all my thirty-five years as a specialist, I have only ever seen this result in a book! Is it okay if I write this up? It might get me published!”

    For those familiar with the comings and goings in Carolyn's life, they were well schooled in it's regular irregularities. Yet on the other hand, it was not hard to see how the casual observer might dismiss the tales as pure fantasy. Going over these thoughts in her mind, she suddenly saw the solution to writing short fiction. All she needed to do was to describe her life in the first person, but with a nom de guerre. In the end, it would probably be easier than convincing people that stuff like that really did happen out there, somewhere. The best part of all was that she could choose any name that she wanted.

    (c) Copyright by Ellen Evans 2014

  10. I can't post my story. It says my HTML cannot be accepted.

  11. The Visit: part 1

    As Kate raised her hand to knock on the door, it flew open, and narrowed green eyes greeted her.

    “Oh, Skip,” she gasped, “hi”. Skip was her friend Aimee’s husband, though they were currently separated. From the look on Skip’s face, they were no closer to fixing their relationship status. She was sorry they couldn’t seem to work it out. Skip was a good father and provider. He’d never willingly leave his family; that she knew for sure.

    “Sorry, Kate, I’ll see you around.” Skip pushed on past her, barely looking her in the eye.

    Kate, watched him walk to his car, and called out to Aimee. They were going to dinner, then a concert in the city. Aimee came out, eyes puffy, but otherwise looking ready to hit the town.

    “Ready,” she declared, and let out a deep breath. “Did you see Skip?”

    “Not really,” she hedged. “He was leaving in a hurry. You OK?”

    “I will be once we get out of this house.”

    The smile she plastered on her face let Kate know that there would be no more discussion of Skip tonight. Kate didn’t push the issue; didn’t feel she had the right to. Tonight was all about fun, fun, fun.

    The next day was Saturday, and Kate awoke to a pounding in her head. Soon she realized, the pounding was actually someone knocking on the door. Thinking the intruder would go away, she fell back onto her pillow, but there it was again, that insistent banging. Kate finally opened the door, glaring at the bright sun that greeted her. An attractive woman, grey hair worn long, stuck out her hand to shake Kate’s. Taking in Kate’s appearance, she apologized.

    “Sorry to bother you on a weekend, but my name is Karla. I’m with Alliance Life Insurance. You recently added a policy. I’m here to verify some information and get some signatures.”

    Kate briefly shook her hand. “Yes, of course, I signed some paperwork at the office. Please, come in.” Kate stepped back and let the agent enter. “Please excuse me one minute, I’ll get dressed.”

    When Kate returned the woman was gazing at pictures on the mantle.

    “She’s a pretty girl. She has the most beautiful eyes; such a rare color.”

    “Thanks. That’s my daughter Allie.”

    Eager to get on with the paperwork and change the subject, Kate asked if she could get her anything.

    “A cup of tea would be nice.”

    “Sure thing. Why don’t we complete the paperwork at the table?”

    Kate popped a pod into the coffee maker, then organized sugar, honey, and cream on a tray. Once Karla fixed her tea to her liking, they got down to business.

    The woman took some forms from her briefcase. “The processor noted some incomplete information. If you wouldn’t mind filling this out, and confirming the changes with your signature, I’ll be on my way.”

    When Kate saw the questions, her hand froze on the page. In the space where name of father should be, it was blank. She glanced at Karla.

    “I don’t see the problem. I intentionally left the name of the father blank. Is that not allowed?”

    Karla looked at her intently, a question in her eyes, but then she said, “No, not a problem. You see the boxes below? If you don’t know who the father is, then check the box that states, unknown, see?”
    Kate did see. “I’m so sorry you had to come all this way. It was a stupid mistake.”

    Karla leaned over and took Kate’s hand. “We all make mistakes,” she said. “If we’re honest, and do our best to correct the path our mistakes put us on, the universe will forgive.”

    Kate shivered, and then laughed at herself for allowing superstitious feelings. “I meant forgetting to check the box was a mistake, not that…oh, never mind.” Kate signed and handed the paperwork back to Karla.

    “Was that all?”

    “Yes, that’s all. I just wanted to right a wrong. It will be a relief to you to know you’ve provided for your daughter. One must be prepared. Anyway, our office will process the paperwork. The policy will come to you shortly.”

  12. The Visit: part 2

    Karla packed her briefcase quickly, and made her way to the door. Before she left, she gave Kate the briefest of smiles. The look she gave Kate was almost sorrowful.

    “Thanks for tea, and I wish you all that you deserve.”

    With that statement, Karla left. Kate scoffed and watched the woman walk off. That was a bit strange. Kate stood for a moment mulling over her bizarre encounter with the woman. Feeling a chill, she closed the door.

    On Monday, Kate hurried into the office, nearly late after grabbing a card for her boss at the supermarket. She walked into Aimee’s office, but she wasn’t there yet. Penning a quick note, she left it on her desk. Then, before she forgot, she sent an email out to the entire staff—minus her boss—and got to work. Right before lunch, her boss called her in.

    Mary was tough. Always in the office early, and the last to leave, she expected the same dedication from all of her employees. Not having a husband or children, she could afford the luxury. Needless to say, she wasn’t the most beloved of bosses, but Kate could admire her work ethic.

    Mary closed the door, and asked Kate to sit down. Looking grave she asked Kate, “What is the meaning of this?” She slammed a petition down that Kate had never seen.

    “I honestly don’t know. I’ve never seen that before.”

    “Well, that’s interesting because a source told me it came from you. Do you have a problem with me you’d like to address?”

    Kate stuttered, “No, I don’t have a problem. I don’t know where that petition came from, but I didn’t send anything around asking to have you removed from your position. I don’t know who did this, but it wasn’t me.”

    Mary picked up the phone from her desk, dialed, and said told the person on the line to come to her office immediately. Kate was shocked to see Aimee walk through the door. Aimee nervously glanced her way, and sat in the chair next to her.

    “Aimee,” her boss quizzed. “Is this the petition that you were asked to sign and then send around the office?”

    Aimee shook her head, looked at Kate, and added, “It was sitting on my desk with a post-it in your handwriting asking me to sign and pass it on. I’m sorry, Kate, but I can’t risk losing my job right now. I had to bring it in.”

    Kate sat dumbfounded. “I didn’t leave that petition, Aimee.”

    Her boss dismissed Aimee, and she rushed out of the office.

    “Is this your handwriting?” her boss asked, referring to the post-it. Then, she showed her the first signature on the petition. “And is this not the same signature?”

    “Yes, it looks like it but….”

    “Then there’s nothing to discuss. We have this post it, your signature on the petition, and an email asking everyone to sign. I don’t need any more proof. Pack your desk, I want you gone.”

    Kate couldn’t believe it. Nothing like this had ever happened to her. Did Aimee know? That was the only explanation, but why now, after all this time?

    When she returned to her desk, the card she had gotten congratulating her boss for her recent promotion was on her desk. Kate opened the card to see a note addressed to her. It read:

    Did Karma come; sing its siren song?
    It’s truth she seeks; if truth she finds
    Redemption will be paid.
    If not, Justice will find its way.
    All that is given, can be taken.

    No signature. Kate’s hand trembled. The strange visit, the questions about Allie’s father, and now losing her job, couldn’t all be a coincidence. A thought struck her, and she grabbed her keys, praying it was only her imagination getting away from her. As she fought to keep the car on the road, her last thought was of seeing her daughter, hoping she would get another chance to look into her brilliant, green eyes.

  13. That was the problem. I submitted in two parts :)

  14. I had the same problem. Nice story, btw.

  15. Yes on both counts, Ellen. As was your story! I had encountered that problem myself a few times and I should have questioned the length of your works. Check there first the next time any of you encounter this. If you post theses to your personal blog you can obviously post in one piece. And if you do, please consider a bing back to the CREATIVE BLOOMINGS/FLASHY FICTION FRIDAY sites.

  16. Through the Dark

    By Erin Kay Hope

    Part 1

    Evelyn stood next to the freshly-made grave, red-eyed, head bowed. She held a single white rose in her clasped hands. A single tear trickled slowly down her white cheek, leaving an ugly stain.
    The grey, overcast sky made a fitting backdrop for the dismal little scene in the cemetery. Sadness in silent waves billowed around Evelyn. Faces, white as her own, stared at the ground. But they didn't feel like she did. How could they? Darcy had been the world to her. To them, she was just another person in it.
    She closed her eyes softly, remembering the last time she had seen her best friend. Had it really been only a week ago? It seemed like ages:

    She sat next to Darcy's hospital bed, holding onto her friend's emaciated hand, reading from their favorite book, "The Pickwick Papers". But Evelyn's mind wasn't on the book. Darcy had leukemia. She had stopped responding to treatment, and she was dying. Two months previously, the doctors told her family that she only had a few more months, three at most. A lump came into Evelyn's throat as she remembered the conversation, and she stumbled over the words on the page.
    Darcy squeezed her hand faintly. "Don't cry, Evie," she whispered.
    Evelyn sniffed. "I'm not crying."
    But Darcy smiled. "Death's only a part of life, Evie," she said. "I am not afraid of it. I only wish it didn't have to be so hard on those left behind."
    "You're not going to die, Darcy," Evelyn said, trying not to let her tears escape. "You'll be just fine."
    "You don't have to lie to me anymore," Darcy assured her. "I know the truth, and I'm ready for it. God knows what He's doing."
    Evelyn sobbed, unable to control herself any longer.
    Darcy stroked her friend's hair soothingly. "Try to be strong, Evelyn. For our friends and families's sakes. Go to sleep now, it's late."
    Evelyn fell asleep to the sound of her friend sweetly singing One Direction's "Through the Dark". The next morning, Darcy was dead.

  17. Through the Dark

    By Erin Kay Hope

    Part 2

    "Evie, it's time."
    The sound of John's voice brought Evelyn back to the present. She realized that people were starting to leave. Slowly, she knelt down by Darcy's grave and placed her rose on top of the fresh earth. "I will always love you," she whispered.
    John took her hand in his and led her to the car. Not a word was spoken between them all the long ride to Evelyn's house. Her heart and mind were to full to speak. And through all the thoughts and tears, she kept coming back to the same question: "why?" Why had Darcy been taken from her? If there was a God, which she doubted, why had He let it happen? Why, why, why? Evelyn's head ached and her eyes hurt from crying. She just wanted to curl up into a ball and shut everything out.
    Finally, they were home. At the front door, John turned to her. "You're not alone in this, Evelyn," he said. "Darcy meant everything to me, as well, and to her family. You have friends who love you. Don't shut them out."
    Evelyn stared up into his earnest eyes. It was as if he'd read her mind. Tears started to fall for the hundredth time that morning. She threw herself into John's arms, crying into his chest. "Will I ever see her again?"
    He hugged her to him tightly. "Of course you will," he answered. "We'll all be together again one day."
    "Oh Johnny, I wish I had your courage," she said through her sobs, "and your faith, but I don't."
    He held her at arms's length and looked deep into her eyes. "Then ask God for it. He'll listen. Goodnight, love, I'll pray for you." He kissed her and left.
    Evelyn stepped inside. She went straight to her room and sat down on the bed. Then, for the first time, she prayed. Really prayed. She poured our her bewildered, hurt, angry soul to God. Her whole body shook as she sobbed her heart out, praying fervently. At last, exhausted, she ceased. She felt an overwhelming peace envelope her. Could this be the God that Darcy and Johnny were always talking about? She laid her head on the pillow and gazed up into the darkness. And she knew she was not alone. She was safe in His arms. And she had Johnny and her friends and parents here for her. Together, they'd make it through the dark.

  18. 12/3/73

    It was the first time I’d ever been on an airplane. The noisy little turboprop shuttered down the icy runway as it left Bangor airport in the early, cold morning of December 3, 1973. It was a shaky and slightly deafening quick hop to Boston to change planes. The airport at Boston was expansive and confusing to this rural boy, but I managed to find the next gate.
    A couple hours later, I was strapped into my first ever jet propelled airplane on my way to Atlanta for another change. The 707 was amazing, and the flight was long enough, smooth enough, and quiet enough for me to grab a few winks. I awoke on approach to the Atlanta airport, somewhat rested, but still anxious about the next flight.
    Slightly before sunset, I was in line to board the last flight, heading to San Antonio, Texas. By that time, I was so nervous that the type of plane made no difference. There would be no sleeping on this leg of the trip; just silent anxiety knowing that my life would change forever in just a few short hours. I knew there was a bus waiting for me at the end of this flight, and once on that bus, there would be no turning back.
    In what seemed like a flash, the pilot came on the com to announce that we were on final approach to the San Antonio airport. He brought the plane to a very smooth touchdown, and a way-too-short taxi to the gate; a gate that I would not enter, because my ride was waiting on the tarmac. I was about to embark on a whole new adventure.
    When the airplane came to a stop at the gate, the captain came on the com to instruct all of us that were heading to Lackland to stay in our seats while everyone else disembarked the aircraft. Once that was done, the rear door opened and a sharply dressed sergeant entered and walked to the front of the plane, turned and smiled, and pointed at the rear door. He calmly instructed us to gather our gear, disembark, and get on the bus. We followed his instructions with smiles on our faces and relief spurred by his calm and friendly demeanor.
    The bus ride was relaxed, thanks to our friendly and smiling hosts. As the bus passed through the gate and pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a dozen or more sharply dressed sergeants smiling and waving at us. We sauntered off of the big blue bus, rummaged around for our luggage, and followed the instructions to go find a line to stand behind. We all lined up, still chatting, smiling, and somewhat relaxed, and put our bags on the ground at our sides.
    One of the sergeants raised his hand and calmly told us to quiet down. He introduced everyone and welcomed us to Air Force Basic Training. He let us know that this would be our home for the next six weeks, and that he and the other sergeants would prepare us for a career in uniform. We all smiled and shook our heads at each other in somewhat silent approval that our choice of the Air Force had been the right choice.
    When the sergeant had finished with that part of his introduction, he informed us that we would be boarding the busses once more for our final destination; our dorms. The sergeant told us to pick up our bags, and we did. But, I guess we didn’t do it well enough to suit him because in the absolutely loudest and most ferocious voice I had ever heard, he shouted, “PUT’EM’DOWN!!!!”
    In one uniform thud, every bag hit the ground, followed by that same voice bellowing, “NOW, WHEN I SAY TO PICK’EM’UP, I WANT THEM ALL UP AT THE SAME TIME!!! …… NOW…. PICK’EM’UP!!!”
    Still not good enough. “PUT’EM’DOWN!!... LET’S TRY THAT AGAIN, LADIES!!!.... PICK’EM’UP!!” Followed shortly with ,”PUT’EM’DOWN!!!..... PICK-EM-UP!!!.... PUT’EM’DOWN!!!.. PICK’EM’UP!!”
    This went on for a while, but we learned how to pick’em’up and put’em’down that night. And by the time we actually got to bed, around 2:30 in the morning, we had put away the smiles and the attitudes, and were gearing up and fearing up for the unknown that lay ahead. By the way, that unknown came at 5am. I just hoped I was ready, because it was game on, and there was no turning back.