Emily went home for Thanksgiving. She flew out on Wednesday and did not have to be back until Sunday night. That gave her four whole days where she did not have to think about anything. Of course she thought about everything that whole time.
Emily hugged her mother, her father, her younger brother and her mother again. She took her bags upstairs but Mother called up before she could unpack a thing. There were messages and Emily was expected to go back down to listen since Mother was not the type to yell.
“Susan called and asked if you had beaten up anyone at college yet.”
Susan was from the rich, cheerleader side of town. She was a friend, but had a touch of acid in her personality. “I’ll call her later.”
“Brad called and said he wants to see you.”
Brad was the ex-boyfriend. Emily did not have to think. “No.”
“I agree,” Mother said and crumpled that piece of paper. “Molly called to say hi and welcome home.”
Emily smiled. Molly, her best bud, represented the working class side of town. Most families in town were working class, including hers. “Every corner heard from,” Emily said, and she went happily back upstairs, shut her door, plopped down on her bed and cried.
When Thanksgiving Day arrived, and dinner was on the table, Emily’s father started right in with, “so tell us about school.” She hardly knew where to begin. Her mother was against ROTC and everything military. Her father urged her to study something practical like economics, but conceded that nursing would be acceptable. Of course, he said there were good nursing schools close to home.
“But I want to have the full college experience,” Emily said. She smiled at her little brother Tyler who had his ear buds hidden up under his long hair. He smiled back and nodded, or bobbed his head to the music and had no idea what anyone was saying. Sadly, he thought he was getting away with it.
“All fine and well,” her mother said. “Just make sure your studies come first. We would hate to pay all that money for nothing.” Father looked at her and she could read his mind.
“And for God’s sake, don’t get pregnant and not finish.”
“Ah?” Mother let out her signature sound. She was not happy to hear that. “My straight A student?”
Emily repeated herself. “It’s not like high school. The competition is a lot stiffer.”
“Honey, you just need to apply yourself.”
True. Emily had not applied herself to her classes. She had not been able to do that what with everything else going on. Right at the moment, she felt like applying herself to her turkey so she could escape before the questions got into details.
Fortunately, her big brother David chose that moment to arrive. He was in a National Guard unit that had deployed overseas. He was the one who got her thinking about ROTC in the first place. His outfit was told they would be home for Thanksgiving, but he told the family not to expect him before Saturday.
While everyone shouted and ran for hugs and welcome words, Emily ran upstairs and grabbed the top of her ROTC uniform. She dragged it downstairs to show her brother. Captain Driver had given her corporal stripes for when she was with the sophomore class. They matched her brother’s stripes.
“Ah,” he made the sound mother would have made. “But you are going to be an officer. Do I salute you now or do I have to wait?” He came to attention and so did she. He saluted and she returned his salute as an officer should. Then they laughed and hugged, and noticed that mother had gone back to the table to sit. She wanted no part of that military stuff.