Amy busied herself with the drawing of her own self, crowned as a queen. She had always fantasized to be the prom queen as her years in College was gradually winding up. She got so carried away with what she was drawing and dreaming about, forgetting that she was still in the classroom.
On the other hand, Mr. Philips, the Geography teacher, had been calling on Amy’s name for her to answer a question. Not knowing that Amy had been translated from the physical to her dream land, where nobody can get intimidated on how to live better.
Amy didn’t come back to life until Mr. Philips hit her desk with the cane in his hands and in a sarcastic tone told her, “Thank you for returning to earth Miss Hemingway! Can you identify this mountain range in North America?” asked the Geography teacher. Since her mind wasn’t in the class, her response, which was supposed to be quick wasn’t forthcoming. And she was still thinking on what the answer could, with confusion written on her face, the break time bell went off and she darted away from the class.
Minutes later, while she sat discussing with her friends in the cafeteria, one of her arch-enemies who never wanted her to be the next homecoming queen walked in and that awoke a monster of jealousy in her.
“That’s so lame!” said Amy, after she saw Jessica distributing cookies so as to win people’s hearts to her side.
“Jessica Alba is running against you for homecoming queen?” Gwendolyn asked surprisingly with her mouth still wide open.
“I socially expected this! Ever since second grade, everything I do; she has to do. But this one is mine, and nobody is gonna give my vote for stale cookies,” she whispered this softly to her friends annoyingly.
“Even your boyfriend?” Gwen chipped this in pointing towards the direction where Josh sat with his legs crossed.
“Josh, spit that out!” yelled Amy at her boyfriend, who only laughed at such a joke from the love of his life. He did as was instructed by Amy, though the latter had already stormed out of the café.
Getting back home, he appealed to his father to lend him a helping hand as she tried to also make her own kind of special cookies.
“Daddy, you mixture is too high,” she squeezed her eyebrow to show an indignation against what her father had just done.
“Well, honey, I’m actually an Executive, and not a baker. How about I come up with a nice catchy slogan for you?” Mr. Hemingway asked her.
Though her father had always wanted the best for her, she had always put a character that revealed an opposite trait to what she really wanted herself to be. After her dad had gone to bed, leaving her alone, she seemed fagged out and thought of disposing the trash before giving her cookies the finishing touches.
Immediately she turned the door knob to go dispose the trash outside, an envelope dropped on the floor. On the envelope was Amy’s name. Petrified at the sight of the strange envelope that displayed whatever it planned to communicate to her, she thought of throwing the paper away, without even reading its content at all. As the paper flew away from his hand, she felt satisfied, until when she got back inside only to see the envelope on the dining table facing Joshua’s direction.
Eventually, she mustered the courage to open it, and end the suspense once and for all. As she did, she found a blank paper folded inside the envelope. When she opened the blank paper, writings began to appear on it. Seeing this marks the beginning of calamities and blood flow.
YOU ARE HEREBY INVITED
AS OUR GUEST
AT THE LUNCHEON GATHERING
DRESS CODE: DRESS COMFORTABLY!
It looked exactly like Larry imagined: clothing, including underwear neatly folded on the beds. The sheets were freshly washed and the blanket had been tucked neatly under his bed.
“You should start getting use to it,” Carl said to Larry. “You’re going to have to do that with your stuff.”
Larry shook his head and wondered what on earth he had gotten himself into. The loo was just around corner, and he didn’t smell piss so he guessed that’s good. However, he didn’t find it too thrilling that the cafeteria was located a mile away, making him lose strength before and after each meal. He hadn’t even been there that long and the memory of his dead mom kept haunting his soul that he was driven to tears. How ungrateful he’d grown to become; treating her like a whore.
As he stepped outside to see the obstacle course, his eyes became watery. He may have just peed in his pants.
“Is….is,” his words seemed to stick together. “Yup,” Carl said. “That’s your worst nightmare.”
There were loops and turns in places where it shouldn’t be. Mud galore, swings, caves, strings the size of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa that we’d have to climb on the daily, walls, balancing beams. You name it, the course had it. Larry would fall on his face every-single-time, making the camp commandant referred to him as the most graceless lump of a man the world has ever encountered.
That afternoon wasn’t as palatable for him as he encountered his worst nightmare just like Carl said he would.
“Listen up,” the sergeant shouted. “Whoever cannot finish this course in a timely manner will have to do everyone’s laundry, scrub the floors with a toothbrush and clean the loos. Understood?”
“FUC..dgeeee,” Larry’s mouth spilled clearly trying to change his words.
The sergeant marched over to him and in the corner of his eye he beheld Carl scoot over a little as if he didn’t want to be near me
“You say something, soldier?” the sergeant yelled, his spit gluing to Larry’s face.
Larry tried very hard to prevent himself from wiping it away. “No sir, sorry, sir.”
Apologizing did nothing. The sergeant insulted him left and right, told him how pathetic he was before making him and Carl do 100 pushups.
By the time the sergeant walked away steam was oozing out of Josh’s head and it became so obvious that Larry could see it and knew what it meant.
“Dude, not cool!” he said.
“You owe me.” Larry nodded, realizing he needed to bite his tongue around here or otherwise he’d be a lonely loser with no friends and buff arms from all the pushups he may have to do.
When the whistle blew all soldiers ran toward the obstacle course. Carl second behind the leader and Larry was way in the back. It didn’t come as a surprise to him. He struggled to make his way to the first obstacle: the wall.
How in the hel– I mean world was I suppose to climb this thing? Larry thought.
“Move it,” a guy about 6’3 said as he shoved Larry to the ground.
Mud splashed up in places he’d rather not discuss, making him feel kind of crappy.
“Seriously?” said Larry.
The man turned back and said in a mocking tone, “Yeah, seriously. And I hope you like the smell of old beans because you’re going to be smelling them for the next few weeks.”
“What are you talking about?” Larry tried to pick himself up from the mud.
“We share a bunk bed. You sleep under me, pal. And I sure do fart a lot at night.” Then he pushed him back on the ground and laughed before disappearing behind the enormous wall.
By a stroke of faith Larry managed to get through the obstacle course. Not too proud of coming in last though. While walking over to the group who were heading to the cafeteria, he noticed Carl speaking to one of the women in charge. Hold up, he wasn’t simply talking to her he had been flirting. I’ve known him since grad school.
“Huh, how funny,” Larry soliloquized.
At the appointed time after their conversation finished, Larry pulled him to a corner and told him to spit it out. “You like her, don’t you?”
“Keep your mouth shut.” Carl folded his arms. “I know how you are.”
“How long has it been going on? Are you two official? Where can I get me one?”
Carl hit his fist on top of my head. “Fuc…ouch,” Larry said.
“It’s been awhile. Now, I don’t want to hear this repeated. I mean it, Larry.” Carl became dead serious; I knew not to bother him when he got in that mood.
“Alright.” Larry walked away like a scared puppy who had no tail.
“I overhead,” the 6’3 guy that got Larry injured earlier, said. “By gee whiz, I wonder what would happen if Sergeant Lee found out your friend is having a love affair.”
“Really?” Larry questioned him cynically. “Oh, come on!” he bit his tongue.
“What do you want to keep your pipe shut?” The man chuckled. “You are now my personal servant. Anything I say goes.” I’m sure one curse word wouldn’t hurt right about now.
It had only been three hours later before I found Jim, the 6’3 bully or might I say beast, mounted on top of me in a spar. Everyone stood around cheering and watching the fight as my guts seemingly spilled out to the floor.
“Yea!” he said in a joyous tone.
Usually, a soldier would fight back you know because that’s what we’re supposed to do. But now I was a personal servant and had to endure this embarrassing brawl. Larry wondered what Carl would be doing while he got thrashed?
“What is going on in here?” the Sergeant burst through the door. “Atten-tion!” Everyone man ran to their bed stood straight and saluted the Sergeant, except for Larry tried to get up but his legs and arms were butter.
Sergeant Mike walked over and looked down at him. Not once did he offer a hand for him to stand. Not mad, though.
“So, it’s the same scrawny boy that could barely finish the obstacle course. What are you doing on the ground?”
Larry moaned. “I can’t get up, sir.”
“Do you want to do everyone’s chores for the next five days?”
He needn’t hear anything else. Somehow the strength to get up came in an intense burst. He stood though his knees wobbled.
“What were you doing on the ground? Answer me.”
“Sir, yes, sir. Jim and I were having a brawl, sir.”
Larry’s gawk remained to the floor but he stood in a somewhat straight posture.
“A brawl, eh?” He thought out loud.
He felt stupid for coming out and saying it. Probably it was the fear that spoke.
“Then finish it. This time outside.” Sergeant Mike pointed to the door.
Dang. It had been raining intensely and no one wanted to be out there. Jim and Larry walked side by side outside in silence as the other men followed us.
Soon a ground of soldiers from all their cabins stood outside as if it was a paid show.
“Fight till you can’t fight anymore,” Sergeant Mike said as he blew the whistle.
At first, Jim had the upper hand, putting Larry in a headlock, making a pretzel out of his arms and legs. Not cool. His extra meat around his stomach made it even more difficult to breathe and the rain made Larry nearly lose his mind.
Why me? Larry thought.
Somehow the both of them had made their way to a puddle of mud. He had the upper hand and Larry felt hopeless until Jim said, “When I kill you, I’m going to tell everyone about your friend’s romance.” Then he farted in Larry’s face.
“NEVER!” He shouted, pushing Jim to the mud and getting him in a tight choke-hold. Jim tapped out in a matter of seconds. The whistle blew and a rush of applause from fellow soldiers delighted the soul of Larry for the first time in his lifetime.
Jim remained in the mud, rain pouring down him as if he were a thirsty plant. Larry realized in the moment, he may not have the most muscles or the greatest height but he did have some skillful hands, and that alone pushed away his past memories of being kept away from the crowd out of his head. It may one day save me in war. He thought to himself.
Two soldiers gave their shoulders for Larry to rest on as they helped guide him to the cabin. No one helped Jim.
Hours turned into days, days turned into weeks. He’d grown an inch or two and from all the push-ups and his arms was huge.
Since the day Larry wrestled Jim and him threatening to tell on his friend Carl, he had learned to keep his mouth shut and the pushups were not done because of his language.
While others read letters from their families and Larry had nothing to read, it would greatly affect his mood that day.
Though he joined the military to get the paycheck, honestly but he’d learned that he must man up to what he signed up for. Graduation was in two weeks. Right after they will be shipping soldiers off.
“Are you ready, pal?” Carl said offering a hand.
Larry grabbed it and stood. “Of course.” He felt afraid but wouldn’t have asked for any other obnoxious, tall dude to be by his side during battle.
His name was called by Sergeant Lee promptly after Carl had walked across the stage. Larry looked to the crowd and waved to the crowd, seeing nobody to call his family but strangers. He was 5th in rank out of fifty men.
“Well done,” Sergeant said when giving him an honor badge.
The soldiers then chanted their war promise when all was said and done.
“It is our time to shine, old friend,” Carl said. Mrs. Emilia, his ex-girlfriend and now fiancée, stood behind them, cheering with the rest of the crowd.
Larry nodded, leaned over to him and said, “Agreed, and it is my duty to return you safe and sound bro. I won’t let my unborn goddaughter grow up without her father.” He kindly squeezed Larry’s hand as a gesture of ‘thank you’ before letting it go.
And with one last salute to the Sergeant, they were on their way to pack for battle. No celebration parties, no time to mingle.
All that was left of that was nothing but tale as where he started wasn’t where he ended.