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