Finish that thought 11


Maria waited, trembling, for them to call her name. The other girls weren’t fidgeting in their seats, and she couldn’t figure out why. She’d talked to Luisa and Anna, girls from her neighborhood, before they’d been asked to take their seats, and they’d seemed unnaturally calm. Even Luisa, who had been in the principal’s office every semester since second grade for fighting or yelling or something.

She looked up at the stage and the lone lectern sitting slightly left of center. Maria had expected more ceremony, more artistry, more…something, but there was nothing other than the scraped-up wood and the stub of a microphone.

The man who walked out on stage was exactly as she’d expected, however. Punctual, crisp, neat, with a measured stride that belied his strength, he made his way to the podium in eleven precise steps. Everyone knew the Commander.

He paused, for just a moment – not to review his notes, for he had none, and not to consider the audience, for his gaze was focused not on them, but on the flag hanging on the back wall. Maria couldn’t hold still any longer, and she started to tremble as he opened his mouth to speak.


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