Military Ball

The alarm radio switched on at 0600. Fletcher woke to the country station’s scratch and twang volleying into the blackness of a February Anchorage morning. The sun, gone by midafternoon, wouldn’t rise for hours. He sprang up in the dark, flipped the light, and hit the deck for sit-ups. His abs burned as his shoulders curled off the carpet, his scrawny belly mushing over the ratty elastic of his briefs. He needed to tell Mom to buy him some new underwear.

He pulled on sweatpants, bounded down to the treadmill. The living room had a radio too, but he preferred cadences for jogging. He was his own drill sergeant, the call and the response. He barked both parts quietly as his feet slapped the whirring band; Mom was still asleep.

Mama, Mama can’t you see? What JROTC’s done for me.

Some people talk behind our backs, but we’ll beat ’em on the PT track.


Good for you! Good for me!

He ran an extra mile just to exhaust his nerves. Military Ball was less than two weeks away. He couldn’t put it off any longer. He had to ask Kara.

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