September is already here. How did that happen? And it seems summer is well on its way out, sigh. I love summer. Not the heat, but the long days, the no school, and dollar drink days at McDonalds, lol. But fall means cozy sweaters and no bugs. (I’m trying to be positive here, folks, because short days, rain and school… not my fave.)
Anyway, it’s Promptly Penned time. This month—I don’t even know. I’ve been staring at it and I have no idea what to do with it. Are they getting harder on purpose? I think so…here’s the prompt…and the resulting story.
In school, tests started with a class bell and ended with a “pencils down”, outside of school things weren’t so well defined.
U.S. Marshal Casey O’Toole leaned against the wall, waiting to hear his name called to enter the room—complete the last part of his practical weapon’s training before being deemed ready for active duty again. Just one dark space with a dozen random targets was all that stood between him and reclaiming his badge.
He nearly laughed at the thought. As if one test could erase what had happened. Stop the nightmares from drenching his body in sweat every night. Bring his partner back to life or fade the puckered scars on Casey’s shoulder. Make him forget.
Casey closed his eyes as the inklings of a flashback gnawed at his senses. He’d managed to fake his way through half a dozen psych evals and two other exams. Surely he could hold it together long enough to walk through one stupid room. Reclaim the one aspect of his life that hadn’t walked away in the aftermath of the incident.
His ex’s voice rattled inside his head. They’d been in a bad place before he’d gotten shot. Having to go through physical therapy to regain full use of his shoulder had obviously been too much for her to deal with. Of course, the fact she’d been sleeping with a buddy might have been part of the reason she’d moved out before he’d even gotten home from the hospital. But knowing she would have left regardless didn’t lessen the sting much.
A blast of static broke the relative silence, a scratchy version of his name echoing through the room. Casey drew a deep breath, then made his way to the door. He’d done this walk-through a dozen times. He didn’t know why if felt different this time. Cared even less. He only had one job—pass.
He nodded at the handler as the other man motioned to the door, visually beginning the test. Back in school, tests had started with a class bell and ended with a “pencils down”. But outside…outside of school, things weren’t so well defined. More of a long, never-ending test that summed up more than just passes and failures. It shaped who he was. Who he’d become. Casey only hoped that the darkness he’d pushed deep down inside him wasn’t the part that would walk out of this exam. That something of the man he’d once been still existed.
Sorry this was late. But run off and read the other ladies if you haven’t already.