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Published:October 19th, 2006 15:53 EST
Boot Camp and a Women

Boot Camp and a Women

By Catherine Kemp

Nicole was crawling through the mud at 5:30 in the morning, wishing she was back in her cozy bed.  This was her third day at Army boot camp, and she already hated it.  Nicole was spoiled by her filthy rich family and definitely wasn`t used to this.

GO GO GO!! ", the drill sergeant yelled.  YOUR PARENTS DIDN`T PAY FOR YOU TO SIT AROUND ON COUCHES ALL DAY! " 

Nicole scowled and remembered why she was here.  Supposedly, she had been too snotty; and her parents sent her away to this dump.  At least all the other kids on Level One had the same problem. 

COME ON, UP THE HILL! ", the drill sergeant yelled.  Nicole had had enough.  She stood up to her full height, rolled her shoulders back, and tried to pretend that her juicy sweat suit wasn`t covered with mud.  Nicole started to march off the field but proceeded to slip and fall flat on her face.  Everyone started to laugh hysterically at her, and Nicole`s face turned bright red.  Having been publicly humiliated, she had no other choice but to Army crawl the rest of the course.  Nicole crawled as fast as her skinny frame would let her, and she soon reached the finish line.  Expecting to see everyone giggling at her, she hung her head.  But Sgt. Murphy clapped her on the back and grinned.  All of the other rich brats were staring at Nicole with their mouths hanging open. 

Congratulations, " Sgt. Murphy said in her husky voice.  Way to set the camp record. "  Nicole didn`t believe him at first; but when she looked at the record board, she saw it was true.  She smiled shyly.  Come with me, young lady, " the sergeant yelled.  You`re moving up a level! "  Nicole followed her to the main building, looking back only to glance at the others with a smug look on her face.

That night, Nicole was moved to the opposite side of camp where the Jackrabbits, or the people in Level Two, stayed.  The cabins looked basically the same on the outside; but on the inside, it smelled suspiciously like vomit.  Nicole wrinkled her nose and tried to ignore it as she set her duffel bag on her bunk.  She looked around at her five roommates and smiled.  They scowled back and turned away.  Well, well, well, " Nicole thought.  So this is how it`s going to be. "  She made a face at their backs and returned to unpacking. 

So. The rich brat does have some skill, " a tall blonde girl said unkindly.  Nicole turned to face her.

As a matter of fact, she does, " Nicole snarled back.  And she just broke the camp record for Army-crawling. "  Blondie`s face started turning a violent shade of red.  A girl on the plumper side hurried over to Nicole.

I`d run if I were you, " she whispered.  Mandy is the one who set that record last year. "  Nicole tried to look worried as she nodded; but on the inside, she was cracking up.  She loved making rude people like Mandy mad.  By the way, I`m Lisa, " the girl said.  Welcome to Cabin Nightmare. "

Nicole pondered over what Lisa had said as she forced down some disgusting oatmeal for breakfast.  It`s probably no big deal, " she told herself.  They probably make fun of the new girl for a few days, and then it goes back to normal. "  One of the camp sergeants walked over to her table.

Nicole Henderson? ", he read off a clipboard.

That`s me! ", she replied excitedly.

Follow me.  Your first class is Army Etiquette, " the sergeant said flatly.  Nicole followed him as she tried to think how etiquette had anything to do with the army.  No one was in the room yet, so Nicole sat down at a desk towards the front and looked around the room.  It was completely empty except for fifteen desks, a bookshelf full of books, and a whiteboard.  No teacher`s desk or anything.  The rest of the class started to file in with Mandy bringing up the rear.  She stared at Nicole with displeasure.  Nicole smirked and faced the teacher at the front of the room. 

Welcome to Army Etiquette.  I am Sergeant Brown.  For the next seven weeks, you are going to learn how things are done in the military, " she said.  So let`s begin. "  She then instructed them to push the desks to the sides of the room.  They each grabbed a book from the bookshelf and walked across the room while keeping the book balanced on their heads.

Nice work, everyone! ", Sgt. Brown exclaimed.  Now we will do it again, but with rifles in our hands. "  Nicole picked up a rifle and started to march across the floor, but someone stuck her foot out and tripped her.  The book and rifle fell to the floor, and Nicole landed by Sgt. Brown`s feet.  The sergeant raised her eyebrows at Nicole. 

Sergeant "I swear "I didn`t...well " " she spluttered.  Mandy stepped up before she could say anything else. 

Ma`am, it was my fault, " she said in a sickeningly sweet voice.  I was trying to teach her how to do it the proper way, but she must have not been ready for it. "  Nicole glared at her as the sergeant nodded sympathetically.  It was payback time.

Eight hours and one hundred pushups later, Nicole sat down for dinner.  It had been a long day of marching, crunches, climbing, and shooting.  She was starving. 

So how was your first day as a Jackrabbit? ", someone asked.  Nicole swiveled around and sized up the girl with short brown hair who had just set her tray down. 

Um "it was okay, " Nicole said cautiously.  She didn`t know if this girl was in Mandy`s little posse or not. 

The girl laughed.  Yeah right.  It was horrible, wasn`t it? " Nicole nodded sheepishly.  She continued, If the work doesn`t kill you, then Mandy`s little group will. "

I noticed that much last night in the cabin, " Nicole sighed.  The other girl winced. 

Sorry, " she said.  By the way, I`m Claudia. "  They shook hands and then dug into the burgers.  Claudia looked over Nicole`s head and groaned.  Here comes the queen bee herself. " 

Making friends with the enemy, are we rich girl? "  Mandy sneered.  You don`t want to be seen hanging around this geek. " 

I`ll decide who the "enemy` is for myself, thank you, " Nicole responded in a very prim and proper voice.  Claudia high-fived her and Mandy walked away in a huff.  They laughed about that for a little while, but then Claudia returned to her serious tone. 

Nicole, we have to do something about this, " she said.  She is mean to everybody, but is still the most popular.  How does that make sense?! "  Nicole nodded in agreement.  She had been one of the cool " kids at her old school, but everyone had gotten along there for the most part.  Claudia lowered her voice.  We`re going to take her down. "

That night, Nicole walked out of the cabin claiming that she needed some fresh air ".  She smuggled Claudia into the cabin while the other girls were getting ready for bed in the bathroom.  Claudia lay underneath Nicole`s bed until the others fell asleep.  They tiptoed over to Mandy`s bunk with green hair dye in their hands.  Her long, blonde locks were fanned out on the pillow, which made it easier for Nicole and Claudia to carry out their plan.  They applied the hair dye in lots of random stripes and squiggles, being careful not to get any on the pillow.  Suddenly, Mandy stirred in her sleep; and Nicole dove onto her bed.  Claudia sprinted out the door and into the shower house, where she dumped the cans in the garbage.  Nicole fell asleep with a smile on her face, proud of a job well done.

The next morning, Cabin Nightmare was what its name suggested.  Mandy had screamed so loudly when she saw herself in the mirror, Nicole wouldn`t have been surprised if the mirror shattered.  While she tore through her luggage looking for a hat to cover up her hideous green hair, Nicole slipped out the door to breakfast.  She recounted the morning to Claudia, who started laughing uncontrollably.  The Bossy Posse, as Claudia liked to call them, didn`t show up for breakfast or Army Etiquette.  Finally, at 11:00, Mandy arrived at the obstacle course with her new hair stuffed into a camouflage hat.  She was so angry that she missed a whole section of the course and kept messing up on the parts she remembered. 

Claudia was right, " Nicole mused.  Mandy is nothing without her precious hair. "  The rest of the day passed uneventfully, and soon Claudia and Nicole were discussing their newest plan over a dinner of macaroni and cheese. 

I say we should spread a nasty rumor about her and her friends, " Claudia said mischievously. 

No, " Nicole said, that sounds too much like something Mandy would do. "  She prided herself on not being a hypocrite. 

I guess you`re right, " Claudia replied.  This should be our last prank, I think.  But it`s going to have to be a big one. "  Nicole nodded in agreement.  Her face suddenly lit up as she watched someone waving a dollar bill in the air.  She whispered something to Claudia.  Claudia`s eyes widened and she started giggling.  This was going to be the best trick ever played in the history of The Pennington Army Camp. 

 Later that night, all of the Jackrabbits gathered around the bonfire to sing old Army songs.  Nicole faked a stomach ache and hurried back to the cabin.  Phase One of Operation Blondie had to be finished before the Bossy Posse returned from the campfire.  She grabbed a pair of scissors from her back pack and carefully cut a tiny hole in the seat of the pants that Mandy had laid out for tomorrow`s outfit.  She checked to make sure that it wasn`t too visible and then got into bed.  Nicole couldn`t wait until Phase Two went into action.

The next day was a Thursday, which meant an early rise and Army crawl.  They were finished with that by 6:00, and everyone returned to their cabins to shower before breakfast.  Mandy caught Nicole glancing at her jeans. 

Hey, rich brat! Stop staring at my pants! ", she yelled.  Her friends all chuckled.  Just wait, " Nicole thought.  You won`t be laughing at me after today. " 

Nicole and Claudia had already finished their soggy cereal when the Bossy Posse strolled into the mess hall.  Claudia inconspicuously laid a twenty dollar bill that was attached to a string right in between their and Mandy`s table.  She watched out of the corner of her eye as Mandy walked closer and closer.  Right when she leaned down to grab the money, Claudia yanked on the string.  Mandy stood up, walked over, and leaned over abruptly to take the bill.  The silence that followed the sound of Mandy`s pants ripping was the biggest that Nicole had ever heard.  The whole cafeteria burst into laughter as she ran out the door with her hand covering the rip.  Serves her right, " Nicole thought.  But as she thought about what they had done, her smile faded.  She knew what they had to do.  Nicole grabbed Claudia`s arm and dragged her out of the mess hall. Claudia, remember how we said we would never sink as low as Mandy? "

"Yeah " " she replied.

Well, I think we did. "  Claudia hung her head.

I guess you`re right, " Claudia said reluctantly.  Let`s go apologize. "

They walked into the cabin expecting to see Mandy sobbing, but it was quite the opposite.  She was simply putting on a new pair of pants and brushing her hair as if nothing had happened. 

It was you guys who dyed my hair and made me rip my pants, right? ", Mandy asked.  They looked at the floor and nodded.  Well, I just want to say thank you. "  Claudia and Nicole looked at each other in surprise.  They sure hadn`t expected this! 

You see, all my life I`ve been the beautiful, smart, tall, blonde girl to whom everyone looked up, " Mandy explained.  I really hate it, too.  There`s just so much pressure to be perfect. "  Nicole was starting to get the picture now.

So now you`re grateful that we made you look like a loser because now you won`t have to be the greatest person ever? ", she asked.  Mandy beamed.

Exactly! " 

You`re welcome, I guess, " Claudia said, looking puzzled.  Mandy laughed and hugged both girls.  As Nicole watched her walk out the door, she sincerely hoped that she would never be pushed into the same position that Mandy had been in.