Life’s full of choices. Every day we make decisions which could change the course of our lives. From the moment we wake up we choose whether to get out of bed, whether to eat breakfast, what we want for breakfast, if we want to go to our jobs. We even make a choice to come home when our job grants us a temporary reprieve. Those choices combine into millions of possible endings.
For Melissa Chance though there hasn’t been much in the way of choice for a long time. She wakes up every day whether she likes it or not. Someone makes sure of it. She takes her pills whether she likes it or not. They’re too important to allow any other choice. The only real choice left is whether to live or die and even that isn’t really up to her. If she chose to die it’s unlikely her captors would allow it. She’d give almost anything to make a choice that genuinely matters. She’s only in here because she chose to be.
The year was 1998 and Melissa and her older sister Tara had just graduated high school. Technically Tara graduated a year earlier but she failed out of college in near record time. Her parents gave her disapproving looks when she arrived back in Many, Louisiana but she insisted college just wasn’t for her. Their parents always wanted their daughters to get a good education but after Tara’s issues Melissa had no interest in pursuing further education.
Raised in a small town, there weren’t a lot of paths out and from a young age both girls knew they needed to get out. They both wanted more from life than their corner of the world could provide. With college out that left only one choice that made sense to them. They decided to enlist in the military. With no sort of major military action in years, they saw it as a great way to get started in life, save some money and figure out the next steps.
On the day they walk into the recruiter’s office the lone soldier with a square jaw and buzzed head takes a long time to notice them. When he does he stares at them with stars in his eyes. “Good afternoon ladies, welcome to our office. How can the United States armed forces help you beautiful creatures today? Did you stumble in the wrong door? I’ll be glad to help with directions.”
Tara gives him a look that could turn a man to stone. From a young age she was the most intimidating person in any room. She doesn’t have a lot of friends outside of her sister and the biggest reason is how hard it is to approach her and break through her icy exterior. She clenches her fists a few times, her palms turning white.“We’re here to register for the United States Army. Where do we sign up?”
Things somehow get worse from there. After the man decides this must be a joke, the girls spend twenty minutes convincing him to register them instead of hit on them. He eventually runs out of excuses and passes them each a packet full of paperwork. He also seems to give up on getting the date he feels entitled to. As they fill out their paperwork he pulls out an extra packet and glances at the girls. “Just out of curiosity, how much do you really want to serve your country?”
Tara’s eyes rest on him and start to narrow. “We’re here aren’t we?”
Glancing down and then turning around he shrugs. “Ya, I suppose so. How would you ladies be interested in a special branch of the service? I’ve got a special project I’m supposed to find ladies to recruit for but we don’t get a lot of women registering out here. You don’t have to do anything special today. Just fill out an extra form and someone will be in touch.”
The sisters look at each other and Tara raises an eyebrow. What have they got to lose? Melissa offers a smile which seems to relax the soldier. “Sure, we can give it a try. Have them give us a call.” After turning down his phone number one last time, they manage to escape.