The below is the conclusion to my short story, We Survive, We Improvise. If you missed the beginning, you can read it here.
The engines’ roar seemed louder than usual in the plane’s cabin, likely because the cabin was filled with only about a quarter of the passengers it originally started with. “Let’s go home ladies,” Darla announced in a somber voice over the speaker system as the rest of us readied ourselves for lift off. The look in her eyes as she began making her final inspection down the aisle before giving the pilot the thumbs up sign told me our latest sergeant wouldn’t be looking for another challenge anytime soon.
Home. The word sat in my conscience. Could the place we were going to really be called home? For the first time, I allowed myself to think of the family I’d left behind. Not the fantasy family that had gotten me through so many terrible nights, but the real one. I forced myself to do the math. The daughter I still saw in braids and pigtails in my mind’s eye would be a woman now. She might even have a child of her own. I reached for the harness as an anchor only to recall my right arm was no longer attached to the rest of my body.
Stacy, the not-so-newbie, whose first battle proved to also be our last, pulled the belt across my body, securing it into place before strapping herself into Christie’s old seat. I bit my lip. Home. Would I ever really be able to call it that without these women by my side?
The scent of blood, dirt, and gasoline tickled my nose, causing my nostrils to quiver and eyes to water as I took a deep breath to settle my thoughts. I certainly wasn’t crying.
“Double or nothing?” Stacy asked Darla as my sister-in-arms made her way to our seats.
Darla glanced in my direction and the corner of her lip turned up. “You’re on.” Then she caught my eyes. “We were asked to give our all Ladies,” she shouted to the masses. “And that’s exactly what we served. Never forget who you are. We are the Mother F–ing Army.” Leaning in, she lowered her voice so only I could hear. “We survive. We improvise.”
I nodded as the plane began its journey to the place that might one day be called home again. We do indeed.
This was a story that was partially inspired by a dream, but also the village that helped raise me – a wonderful group of women known as the Ladies that Do Bridge. While they might never have been sent to war, they’ve never shied from a battle.
Things I am grateful for today:
- With the exception of a slight cough, my cold is nearly gone
- I made it through my *gasp* eight-year old’s birthday party extravaganza, sanity intact
- I have friends and family close by as well as across oceans
- I have one complete manuscript simmering and a chapter written for the next one
- The knowledge that I am strong, I am determined, and I will make will make the best of whatever tomorrow throws my way. Because I survive even if it sometimes means I have to improvise.