Tag: Training

TRAINING: Training Day By G. Ackman

Word Count 497

Training Day
By G. Ackman

The sun’s rays tickled her eyes awake. She jumped up, shook, and just like that, she was ready for what the day would bring. Outside for her business , a quick breakfast, and it was time for her favorite part of the day. Training. Some might call it work, but she never did. It was intense and required focus, but that was part of the fun. And the rewards afterwards were worth it.

Today’s task was technically called sensory discrimination, but she preferred her own name for it – guess the smell. It involved several little bowls of all sorts of intriguing smells. Her task was to distinguish the special smell from all the others and then “alert” – lay down and point her nose at the right one. She was pretty good at this, if she did say so herself. And Tom, her human, always told her she was a “good girl” when she got it right. She liked being “good girl.” When she didn’t get the right answer he said “let’s do it again” in his patient voice and she knew she wasn’t “good girl” yet. So she would try harder next time. Her bushy brown and white tail flagged its approval as she got the right bowl time after time today. She could tell Tom was pleased with her but he had a layer of sad there too and she didn’t understand. Was she not doing something exactly the way he wanted? She decided to be extra sharp and fast. After she hit on the right bowl while he still had them all up on the counter, he knelt down and hugged her tight. His words said “good girl” but his body said something was wrong. She licked his face and he laughed, held her head close in both his hands and looked deep into her eyes.

“You’re ready,” he said. She knew that. Let’s do it again, her tail yelled. But Tom had other things to do. The next morning, Tom was bustling all around but didn’t get out her bowls for “Guess the Smell.” She knew what that meant. He was going “to work” and she would curl up on the couch and wait for him to get home. Then they could do Training.

But that isn’t what happened. A knock on the door meant visitors. A man, a woman, and a little girl, who immediately knelt down and hugged her. That was pretty okay. They sat at the table, so she knew that meant for her to go lie down, but wait, something was….that was….oh, they were playing. There was that smell. She alerted and the humans all stared. Suddenly she was “good girl” “good girl” “good girl.” Now she got it. That little girl human had the smell and she was supposed to tell them. She understood now. That’s what she had been training for. She would be a very good girl from now on.

TRAINING: Training Thrown to the Wind by B.A. Sarvey

499 words
Training Thrown to the Wind
B.A. Sarvey
Some men are destined to destroy things; some are destined to preserve them. Unaware of his role, Gerald, high above in the balloon’s basket, gawked at the landscape, enraptured. He absorbed the artistry of lines and angles, arcs and squiggles, circles and planes, stunned by the precision of encapsulated vastness. In a language far more articulate than human speech, the sharply delineated shapes and colors spoke to Gerald. Held him in their thrall.
From a train or on foot, these things were nonexistent. Gerald had walked these acres never knowing of them. All he had seen were trees, weeds, streams, rock piles. From up above, a mosaic appeared: smooth expanses of emerald, sienna, kiwi, forest green, each separated by pearl gray, or nut brown borders, with perhaps a thick, meandering line of indigo, the pattern replicated again and again, until the design decorated what on the ground would have been an entire county, but from the sky merely mapped the Cardiff Giant’s courtyard. Sometimes winds and waves formed shapes so symmetrical he was sure human hands had created them. Other times, haphazard borders, which he assumed were natural, had been hewn by the inhabitants.
Each shape precisely fit the next, like jigsaw puzzle pieces. Bursting with the beauty of it, Gerald wanted to consume this perfection—make it part of himself and in turn become part of it.
But he had a job to do. The instructions were explicit. Gerald tried to concentrate on his task, ignoring the pull of emotion. Raising it into position, he trained his Leica on the verdant expanse. Gently, he squeezed the shutter release, again and again, each shot capturing an ethereal, ephemeral instant of his life, freezing it forever, framing his emotions as the meandering walls framed the fields below. Through the lens, an anomaly more like an anthill than an earthen-work edifice, a bump in the green carpet, jumped at him. King Arthur’s burial mound? An ancient dwelling? An Ice Age remnant? Man-made or geological? It didn’t matter to Gerald. Suddenly, all that mattered was preserving it. The landscape devoured any intent to follow his instructions. Training be damned. Spying was something contrary to who he was—someone had heard of his skills with a camera, approached him: He had agreed. Recognizance of troop movements had sounded exciting. Now, he found he could no more aid in destroying this site than he could blow up the moon. Like a spiritual epiphany, he saw his purpose. His camera, his soul’s manifestation, would create a story more beautiful than words. The mysteries and marvels of this universe we call Earth would be pieced together, not ripped apart.
As he focused on a mossy strip far below, clusters, like miniscule ant swarms, undulated across. Puffs of smoke disgorged from the green, leaving gaping, dark pockmarks. In his surprise, Gerald let the Leica slip from his grasp. He lunged for it and slowly, he and the Leica tumbled downward, to join the casualties on the field.

TRAINING: Missing By Sam McManus

Word: Training
Word Count 500
By Sam McManus

A sliver of moon peeked out from behind the dark twilight clouds, but no one was paying any attention to the scene. In fact, absolutely no one was outside of their houses in the entire town, the streets pristine and silent in the misty air. It was like a fairy tale, except no one had informed the three bears that Goldilocks wasn’t coming, the welcome wagon shut up somewhere behind closed barn doors like every other vehicle in town. As the sky shifted from pale purple hues to solid black shades, the atmosphere also changed from cool to cold, ushering in night on a pale train run rampant through the countryside and off across Main Street, which could have been Anywhere U-S-A. Still no people made an appearance, even as animals wandered in and out of the shadows, from steely armadillos, to starving dogs, to white rats in search of relevance in a world with no discernible owners or possibilities for them.
There, chained to a rack beside the old convenience store, sat a child’s bicycle, with twenty-four inch rims and a basket on the handlebars, sporting training wheels on a crooked frame. It was dusty with disuse and neglect, a microcosm for the town as a whole, a sign of decay and dissonance that would have been hard to ignore if anyone were around to witness it. As it was, though, it was just another abandoned aspect to the town that was more sad than notable. Across the breadth of Main Street, from the Baptist Church on the east end, to the town watering hole on the west, a slight breeze stirred up the hopes and dreams left behind by residents who seem to have disappeared, along with the town’s fortunes. The few animals who remained, out on the street, seemed sluggish, drugged by the lack of activity, the lack of food, and the reality that their days were numbered if they didn’t leave.
It was hard to tell where the people had gone, but it was clear they were no longer around. From the closed shades in each house, to the echoes across the town square from the smallest of sounds, to the ghosted streets, it was if no one had ever been resident there. If not for the personal touches to each house, and the banner across the road, down to the child’s bike itself, this would have been easy to believe, but these touches put the lie to it. A pigeon glided past on paper thin wings, obviously heading for greener pastures, but apparently mesmerized by the silence of the town. It landed on the spire at the top of the church, a living monument where not much else was alive, at least for a moment in time, before it took to wing and moved on, headed south. As the night enveloped the entirety of the space in stark shades of black, the only rustling that could be heard was from garbage, bustling on. Bustling on.

TRAINING: Game of Thrones By Peg Scarano

Word: Training
Word Count: 499

Game of Thrones
By Peg Scarano

I think there are few life experiences that can compete with the excitement, anticipation, gratification, apprehension, anxiety and expectation of parenthood.

There are a lot of “firsts” to look forward to in those early years on this earth. The first smile, burp, full night of sleep, sip from a cup, real food, roll over, word, crawl, steps, friend and tooth. Of course, then there are the other “firsts” which are not as much fun like the first shot, cold, strep throat, tonsillitis, skinned knee, broken bone, hurt feelings, vomiting episode, tantrum and the first that is the most fun of all, potty training.

My first child failed wretchedly at sleeping through the night. This major accomplishment did not occur until she was almost four months old and then only because I was so tired I dropped her – I dropped her on a bed, but I dropped her nonetheless. However, she excelled at potty training! She was a mere 15 months old when she used the potty and slept diaperless through the night without accidents.

When the second came along, I didn’t think twice about potty issues. Mistake. Even with her sister encouraging her, wrapped presents and candy on the back of the toilet as promised prizes for a pee or poop, she preferred the diaper. Through bribery and begging, she finally used the potty. She was two weeks short of three years old and I saw my first gray hair.

Then came number three – my little oops who brought all four of us such joy from the day she was born. She slept all night, smiled constantly, walked at 9 months, ate like a trooper, played with anyone – the perfect child – except for the potty training. I started at a year – forget it. I started again when she turned two. She wanted nothing to do with this. By the time she turned three, she was hiding behind the couch, in her room, outside and places I didn’t even know about to relieve herself.

The promised prizes were back behind the toilet. A treasured toy was just out of reach but on display to coax her to do business. Nothing worked. She turned three in April. We opened the pool in June. The frustrated mother locked number three out of the pool gate with a new rule that children had to use the potty in order to enter the pool area. My family and friends were appalled at my heartlessness, but it worked in one afternoon. She stood forlornly at the fence with her little fingers clinging to the chain links. She didn’t cry or whine. She just watched all the kids having fun. After two hours she called out, “Mommy, I have to pee.” Not only did she pee – she pooped. And that was the end of that.

On-the-job training is all most parents have at their disposal and sometimes drastic and unconventional measures are necessary in order for us to usurp and win the ever-loving throne.


431 words
By Nan Ressue
By the time I turned sixteen, the idea of working had never floated through my head.
This all changed when my father asked, “Do you want to get your own job or shall I get one for you?”
Miraculously, I had a job at the local Woolworth’s by the end of the week ,learning to “look busy”, and to duck the thirty something whose Mama had decreed that he would get married that year.
I was determined to ditch my dry goods career and went to work reading want ads, enduring interviews and spending sleepless nights. At last, the manager of the local supermarket was willing take me on. My first assignment was to “Put up the Bakery”. Since the boss obviously assumed that this was idiot work, he was amazed that the end result included crooked rows, reversed packages, and squashed loaves.
Next was “Produce” and included such orders as:
“Hey Kid. Grab those potato sacks and bring ‘em over here.”
“Polish up those apples and line ‘em up pretty side out.”
“Mound up those oranges into pyramids and chase the ones which roll under the counter.”
Learning to cash was soul searing. I required to wear an identifying badge which read “Cashier in
Training”. It might just as well said “Slow, Stupid, and Prone to Errors”. These were the days when a $20 order overflowed the grocery cart and were the subject of my most frequent nightmare; a long line of $20 orders pushed by shouting customers while a red faced the manager watched from the sidelines. This experience preceded the day of bar codes which peeps in your head after hours. An additional piece of agony was cashing a customer out with a bill of say $17.23 who gave me a 20 dollar bill and a quarter. This always resulted in the same scenario; my red face, wrong change returned, and either a patient or irate explanation from the customer, depending on their mood.
Visits to the Ladies Lounge were an education…dirty minds, dirty mouths, dirty room. LOBLAWS the sign says on the front of the store, a place I have never failed to avoid. This was also the place where “stupid educated people who have no common sense” were analyzed, ridiculed and mocked, presented with gusto by the resident blue collars.
“How many more weeks until first semester?”’ I asked myself with a sigh. The most important part of the summer was delivered to me by my best friend who worked with me: I would soon be leaving while my co-workers were probably there for life.

TRAINING: Training By Anne Nassar

Word Count 466
By Anne Nassar

Stana and her new mother went to church most mornings, unless the weather was bad.
When the service was over, they knelt and prayed for Stana’s family.
Stana only pretended. She believed in God – He was as real to her as her own hands. But she did not like the face that He showed to Christians. He hid His true nature from them. She would not be complicit and worship Him in a church.
The priest knew what was in her heart. There was an antagonism between them, but it was silent. It was expressed in hostile glances, exchanged when the new mother wasn’t looking.
After church, the new mother walked Stana to school.
At the front gate, she would hold Stana’s hand and continue to talk about this and that, even after the bell rang.
“I don’t like to let you go,” she would say, “When you’re gone, I don’t believe that you’re real.”
It was a private school. Stana was advanced, academically, but all at sea socially. Interactions between moneyed people were much more nuanced. She felt as though every exchange was a trial. There was what you said, how you said it, how you looked when you were saying it, and the relative social standing of the person you were saying it to.
She was considered a naif, a rube. No one would ever invite her to their house – it would be too absurd.
But she was aware that her physical beauty and her intelligence impressed others. She was satisfied with inspiring jealousy, she didn’t need friends. She didn’t want friends.
She saw no point in forming new attachments.
She was waiting.
She didn’t know if her family had survived.
Though she was safe, hidden in plain sight, she dreamt about running away to find her family. She assumed that they would have returned to Zakopane if they were able to.
Then, her math teacher fell ill. His temporary replacement was a young man who was not yet done with his teacher training at the University.
He was serious. He never smiled or laughed, and he could not be distracted.
He very quickly recognized Stana’s aptitude for math, and began assigning her extra homework.
She began to look forward to solving the difficult problems he gave her.
One day, as class concluded, he handed her a sealed envelope and instructed her to give it to her mother.
“He would like to be invited to tea,” her new mother said, reading the letter,“The nerve!”
Nevertheless, she invited him.
He spoke to her mother exclusively, and during the course of the conversation, he revealed that he was from Zab, which was not far from Zakopane.
“Do you go home often?” Stana interrupted.
He replied that he visited whenever possible.
Stana began to formulate a plan.

TRAINING: You Intrigue Me By Sally Madison

Words: 474
You Intrigue Me
By Sally Madison
One evening after several meals in the castle dinning room, the two lieutenants were absent and the General, still in uniform, but with buttons undone and with his tankard of port wine, was relaxed. Sitting in the master seat, with his back to the kitchen, he stretched out his legs and swung one arm around the back of the chair. He looked across the table at the Countess in her simple blue dress. He began, “You intrigue me, Countess. You are obviously a Christian woman, who knows our Ottoman language, and customs and also those of the Hindu and Buddhist. When we arrived you spoke not your greetings, nor mine. Why did you choose that of the Hindus?” inquired the General.

“I wanted to give you reason to pause and consider us as individuals,” Alexandria explained.

Your education and training must be exceptional,” the General continued.

“My father traveled extensively, and insisted that I have a tutor of different ethnicity each year. Consequently, I had extraordinary exposure to other cultures,” replied Alexandria.

“We have been your guests here for some time, and you have been most hospitable. So tell me, since you seem to know so much about the Turkish culture, what is your favorite Hodja story, Countess?” asked the General.

Alexandria, relaxed at having found common ground with the General, began, “One of the more humorous stories is about the minarets. ‘On the way to Konya, Hodja met a friend who had never been there before. They started walking together and as they got closer to the town, his friend noticed the tall minarets and was very impressed by them. ‘How do they build them so tall?’ he asked. Hodja was in a mischievous mood. He smiled and said ‘they turn deep wells inside out.’”

“And you, General, which one do you like?”

“I have always preferred ‘The Turban and the Robe’,” he began, “An illiterate Iranian gave Hodja a letter he had received from a friend back home, and asked Hodja to read it to him. Hodja looked at the letter. It was written in Persian and the handwriting was terrible. So, he told the man, ‘have somebody else read it.’ But, the man insisted. Hodja retorted, ‘Listen! I don’t know Persian, and even if it were in Turkish, the writing is so bad that I still wouldn’t be able to read it for you,’ Hodja explained. The Iranian got mad and said, ‘You are wearing a huge robe and a turban, but can’t read a simple letter! You should be ashamed of yourself!’ Hodja took off his turban and robe and gave them to the Iranian. ‘If one can do anything by wearing a robe and a turban, then here, you wear them and read the letter yourself.’”

The General smiled at the humor. Alexandria smiled because her plan was progressing devilishly.

TRAINING: Broken Trinity By Sharon Collins

Word Count 441

Broken Trinity
By Sharon Collins

Grant ran marathons. His religion was Training and he worshipped daily, a mad monk at the Altar of Mileage. Leigh knew that when she started dating him. The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner was Grant’s favorite book. Leigh wished she had read it before she said, “I do.” She learned too late that his worship was solitary. His vigils in search of the elusive Runner’s High, all-encompassing. Her lack of appreciation was apostate, he finally confessed, her lack of understanding, anathema. “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” she thought. So she converted, and was confirmed, donned the Gortex embraced the all-consuming commandment: Thou shalt not skip a day. Life became a never-ending Lent, no joy, no fun, no fellowship, just the daily pounding out of prayer. In preparation for the high holy day of every new race, she did not fast, she carbo-stocked on pasta. She ate, chewed, and inwardly digested the gospels according to Bill Rodgers and Grete Waitz. She lit candles to the saints of Nike, Adidas, New Balance, and Saucony. In every respect, she was faithful. She paid her tithes and collected her race tee-shirts.

But Leigh was not a good runner, and Grant was a great one. The distance between them lengthened. She knew she could never catch up. Three years later, she didn’t really want to anymore, anyway. She wanted to walk and talk, maybe even laugh a little, drink some wine, perhaps dance. She wanted company on the trail, so she suggested a child, maybe two. Grant thought none. Leigh compromised. Grant agreed. There would be one. Conceived on the eve of a famous marathon, born the night before a nationally-ranked 15 K, their child’s arrival stalled, dragging on late into the night., Through the long hours, as Leigh labored on her own Heartbreak Hill, and broke through The Wall, Grant was there patting her hand, chanting “Breathe” and counting. Between visions of wishing him dead and wanting her mother, Leigh had lucid moments. Watching him watch the clock, she had an epiphany. He was about to miss his first day of training in three years. His vow would be broken and it was breaking him.

Leigh couldn’t do it, she couldn’t be the cause of his fall from grace. She told him go, although she hoped he wouldn’t. There were fifteen minutes left before midnight, she pointed out. He could run around the parking lot of the hospital. It would count; his running-streak could stand. He didn’t argue; she knew he wouldn’t. He gratefully acquiesced and hurried out, leaving her alone to take communion with their son.

TRAINING: Outshined By Mike Cecconi

Word Count: 495

By Mike Cecconi

Proxima and Rigil, two of the sisters Centauri, two of the closest stars to our very own sun, they like to watch us from afar sometimes, up there in the night sky. It isn’t night to them, of course, there’s no such thing as night for a star, even know they know that on planets and moons there’s the concept of “night”, they know that places where they can never be, it can sometimes be dark.

When you’re a star, all you are able to do is burn, heat and light everything anyone near you for eons, as long as you can. When you’re a star, that’s your job, that’s your life, you coalesce from gases and then you burn. You burn and burn and burn for a few billion years and then you burn out and collapse or explode or just slowly cool and then fade away.

But when you’re a star in the sky, you have a whole lot of time to think and a whole lot more time to chat with the other stars up there beside you. The Sisters Centauri, sometimes they’ll look out toward the humans on Sol’s little blue third planet and one will say to the other:

“Animals that talk, can you believe it? Animals that can talk to each other, don’t that beat all?”

“Look at those amazing little miracles on Earth,” Rigil might mention to Proxima, “what would it be to live a life like that? They’re born and live and die so quickly. It’s like they’re blinking in and out of existence down there, they come and go so fast.” Maybe Proxima agrees but adds her own insight too, “people blink in and out so quickly that I swear I sometimes see them twinkle.”

“They look so small from far away,” one will say to each other, “they must be gigantic up close.” They study the patterns we make in our movements and pretend that something so fascinating yet so far away might be a way to read their own futures in us. They joke that their own fates may be told out in the fleeting little ways we live and love and die, they make their predictions based on our movements as a way to pass their burning years up there in the heart of space.

“Animals that can talk,” they’ll say to each other with awe and wonder, “who could ever believe it?” Proxima and Rigil Centauri, they watch us from their perches in the darkness, telling each other and their other sisters up there little stories of our wonders as we go.

They think of us as tiny itsy miracles, not knowing that when we have spent our little flitting twinkling years, we all will join them up there in the sky and burn ourselves up too, lighting the way for others to someday do the same.

They don’t know that we human things are just in training to be stars ourselves.