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Flash Reprint: Kim Chinquee’s “Formation”

[Editor’s Note: Each Wednes­day, FF.Net will fea­ture a reprint of our favorite flash­es that orig­i­nal­ly appeared in print.]


by Kim Chin­quee


The tech­ni­cal instruc­tor sang a cadence. uu, oo, ee, our. Lit­tle con­so­nants were need­ed. The air­men had been in train­ing for three days, and they could march, swing their arms, and turn when they heard a col­umn right.

The tallest air­man was the front and right of the for­ma­tion. The short­est was the back and left. The oth­ers were between. They were all in order. They almost looked alike, except for their sizes.

There was Min­nie, Ruby, Scar­let. Sara, Bet­sy, Janet. Jill, and Kit, and Pen­ny. They were all there for some rea­son.

The instruc­tor com­mand­ed them to halt. They did, but not in uni­son. It was like a foot­ball game, the wave, which a girl named Sta­cy knew about so well. Her broth­er was a Pack­er.
The instruc­tor yelled for them to get it right.

Last night, in their beds they lay, the beds aligned in per­fect rows. The blan­kets were green and the pil­lows were small and some pil­lows were wet. Some of the air­men had been cry­ing. Some of them stared up at the walls, lis­ten­ing to the drip­ping of the sink, ready to jump up.

Now they stood in for­ma­tion. Try­ing to act.

For­ma­tion” orig­i­nal­ly appeared in NOON 2005, and then lat­er in The Push­cart Prize XXXI: Best of the Small Press­es, 2007. It appears here with the per­mis­sion of the author, © Kim Chin­quee.


Photo 295.jpg
Kim Chin­quee
is the author of the col­lec­tions Oh Baby, Pret­ty and Pis­tol. She is an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish at Buf­fa­lo State Col­lege.

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