Friday, June 10, 2011

Origins II: Part 1

Twenty seconds. Emma Grace was standing in total darkness, waiting at the door to the cadet quarters, and waiting for the signal. Around her, sleeping recruits occasionally broke the silence with a muffled snore or dream-induced mutterings. She adjusted her weight to the other foot. Again. The floor creaked in protest to her restless shifting.

"Em? Are you already up?" That would be Scott, a classmate since childhood who, thankfully, would be accompanying her through Basic Training. Ten seconds. It will be nice to have the company. Even though her whole graduating class entered Basic together, the number of recruits entering every year meant you weren't likely to get put into a company with people you knew. Some thought they deliberately split you up so you were less like to rely on favors from friends. Three seconds.

"Seize the day." And the morning bell rang.

Ten minutes later, Emma was sitting at a table in the mess hall, surrounded by identical cadets, most with their head down and trying not to make eye contact with the older cadets. Despite the constant flood of students in and out of the hall, and the wall of uniforms constantly flowing like a living thing made entirely of fear, hope, and awe, she picked out Scott from across the hall, tracking his advance while focusing on her breakfast. He squeezed in between her and another student, setting down a plate that somehow contained three recruits worth of food. She glanced up from something closely resembling eggs and cocked an eyebrow, "I'm surprised you managed to find me. It's packed in here," She had to lean in and speak over the din of conversation and hundreds of pieces of silverware shoveling hundreds of plates of food into hundreds of mouths.

Scott grinned and rubbed her head, running his hands through what he could of her newly crew cut hair, "You're a splash of red among a sea of blue BDUs. You sorta stand out." He dropped a letter in front of her. Emma batted his hand away with one arm and picked up the envelope over in the other. He eyed the letter, "It was dropped off this morning, right after you left. Good thing I was diligently guarding the bunks an extra minute or two, or it might have gotten lost. Who's writing you on your first day?"

Once she saw the return address, her eyes lit up and she tore open the packaging, "It's Katrina!"

Hey Egg Head

I hope this gets to you on time, I tried to send it out in time for your first day. How was your trip? Did you get to sit next to any cute guys on the way up?

"Of course you did. Didn't she know we were shipping out together?"
"Shut up Scott."

Your graduation put Mom in a good mood, so I should thank you for that. Her and John were reminiscing about their time in training - she even brought out her old uniform! It was really nice, everyone getting along. It's too bad you didn't get to see it - I think its the longest Mom has been sober at one time. Now they can't wait until I graduate in a few years and get to go to Basic. Most of my classmates are excited, but no one will give us much information at school. Is it true they break a finger for every minute you're caught out after curfew?

I already miss you, sis. Two years feels like such a long time. Do you get vacations? Holidays? It's going to be the first time we've ever missed the other's birthday. I'll have to see what they will allow me to mail you for a present.

Well, I have to get this into the mail to get it to you in time for your big day. Good luck! Tell me all kinds of stories!

Tell Scott I said hi.

Love you sis,

Emma folded the envelope, tucked it into her breast pocket. Memories flooded her, and the sounds of two girls laughing was suddenly clearer than the din and ting of cheap silverware against plastic plates.

"Egg head? Is that meant to be a term of endearment?"

Scott's voice snapped Emma back to the present, and the echoing cacophony of too many voices in such a small proximity seemed deafening. As the momentary lapse faded like a forgotten dream, she returned her friend's lopsided grin, "My initials are E-G-G. It was her nickname for me as kids."

"Oh, good, at first I thought she was implying you were smart."

She stuck her tongue out at him, standing. Packing the rest of her eggs in a few over sized bites, she gathered her plate and cup and deposited them in the dirty dishes bin, which was picked up by whatever unlucky recruit had caused the most trouble lately and washed for the next meal. Scott called after her, shouting over the crowd, "I'll see you in first class then?"

Emma turned, taking a few backward steps, and though he was too far away to hear her, he could read her words. I'll beat you there. Exchanging a smile, she slipped out the door, walking outside and slipping on her hat that they were required to wear at all times while outside. The challenge meant that Scott would hurry and race to the classroom to beat her, so Emma would take her time. Besides, she needed to find a pen and paper.

1 comment:

  1. Jake, thank you so, so much for publishing this. I love the vivid world and incredibly realized characters you've created, I have for a long time, and I hope to see more entries like this in the future. Keep up the good work.