Hey, guys. Are you surprised to see me? I’ll be sitting in on your training session today.”
Their field instructor’s face grew even harder, if that was possible. Maryanne looked at him.
“Good morning, instructor,” she said, without expression.
“Same to you, Instructor Okolo.” Chuks could swear the man’s teeth were clenched as he said it. He really didn’t want to see her get angry again, because it was clear from their rigidity of conversation that neither had forgotten their previous argument.
Instructor Max finally managed to ignore her completely and turned to face the rest of the class.
“Soldiers, AT ATTENTION!” Many were already at attention before the man requested them to. “We are about to continue day before yesterday’s training, and with yesterday’s break, I am sure you have all had an opportunity to rest and do the research I asked you to do. The time of reckoning has arrived. Before you, you have one bag each, and I don’t need to remind you what’s inside. Now, if you know you can, step forward and couple for me an M20 Super Bazooka.”
He stood beside Anne, both dressed in white, his eyes skimming up and down the line, taking in all twenty-four students standing as stiff as floorboards. Chuks liked the wicked smile that crept over his face not one bit.
Anne cleared her throat rather audibly. The man looked at her, and his smile turned into a scowl. He looked back at them without giving her an opportunity to talk.
“Yes, no one?”
Someone left their line and walked forward. It took only her milk-white skin for Chuks to see it was Belinda.
“I think I can, sir,” she said in her overly perfect British accent.
“Be my guest.”
She squatted on the ground and opened one of the bags scattered around, bringing out the components one after the other and began coupling launching chamber, rocket, and finally launching engine, then piecing them together to the unbelieving stares of her fellow students. It took around twenty minutes, because sometimes she put the wrong parts together and had stop and look at the whole thing, to figure out which part went where.
But in the end, the comlplete anti-tank lay on the floor, every bit the same with the one he had fired two days ago. She stood up after she was done and faced the field instructor, her back to them. Chuks couldn’t see her face, but he could see Instructor Max’s, the way he looked at the bazooka and blinked a few times, as if to make sure he was seeing the correct thing. Anne just beamed with pride, eyes hidden behind tinted glasses.
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“Good, very good,” Instructor Maxwell finally said, nodding. He even smiled a bit. “Not even a piece out of place. What’s your name again?”
“Belinda, yes. Turn and take a look at your fellow students.”
The girl turned around, sweat beaded on her forehead. She looked proud of herself, but also seemed unsure what to do while staring at her classmates with their field instructor’s hand on her shoulder.
And how she take know how to arrange the thing, self? It dawned on Chuks that maybe that was what she had been learning each time they were coming to this place that she was pressing her phone. Her eyes moved along the line, smiling a bit wider. Chuks saw a few other girls smiling back at her. They were proud of her as well.
Belinda’s eyes seemed to stop at somebody in particular, the person on Chuks’ left. That was funny, because that person beside him was his friend, Segun. Still standing at attention with everyone else, Chuks looked from Segun to her. Segun was always— as in, always —staring at Belinda, but Belinda was also staring at him, like they were sharing a connection. She broke eye contact and looked down eventually, but for those few seconds she and Segun had been staring at each other, she had looked mesmerised.
So all this while Segun had liked Belinda, Belinda had liked him as well? Luck don finish this guy, I swear.
“Look at you all. Isn’t this one of your fellow students? I wonder how you even manage to tell someone you take field training. All of you, as lazy as— ”
Anne cleared her throat again. This time he continued as if he wasn’t even interrupted.
“ . . .if you aren’t even human beings. Anyway. . . ” He snapped his fingers twice and stewards came from behind their line, opening the bags and coupling all the weapons together. Belinda walked back to the line, and all twenty-four of them stood at attention.