Only Myself to Blame

I actually wrote this several years ago, just never got around to posting it here. I recently ran across it while clearing up some files on the computer and decided to clean it up and post it. Merry Christmas. Hope you enjoy.

I watch and wait...eyes moving.

I know that patience and attention are the keys to victory in this battle. Harm would laugh. He often claims that the word 'patient' isn't in the Marine vocabulary. I usually remind him, in my sweetest voice, of course, that while everyone else is being patient, the Marines are in there doing what needs to be done. 'Always the first to go,' and all that.

But I can be patient, when I need to be.

Sometimes, the desired results cannot be achieved without patience. That, Mr. Rabb, is where Marine discipline comes in. Impatience can distract, cause you to miss the very opportunity you're waiting for. Suddenly, the long awaited opening comes, and I move quickly to take advantage.

I relish my victory as the others look on in envy. While they must continue this phase of the challenge,
I am ready to move on to the next.

Almost.

I take a deep breath and straighten my shoulders. It's time to put this victory behind me and look to the battles ahead. There will be more; I don't doubt that for a single moment. But I will accomplish this task.

I am Sarah MacKenzie, Lt. Colonel, United States Marine Corps. I have planned ahead and I am prepared.

Mostly.

I admit to myself that if I had really planned ahead, I would not find myself in this situation. It would be easy to blame others...Harm, for dragging out that last case we were on...the Admiral, for giving me such a heavy load...

In the long run, though, it all comes back to me.

Now...now I must face the consequences for my actions.

I mentally review my plans for the battle ahead...and I have no doubt that it will indeed be a battle. I know exactly where I need to go and have mapped out the best way to get there. I know that there are those who will get in my way, who will try to stop me from reaching my goal, but I will not be deterred. Marines always complete the job they came to do and I am not going to be the exception. If pushed, I am fully capable of pushing back.

Shaking myself back to the present, I become aware of a sound, one of the challenges that awaits me. It's distant now, barely audible, but I know that I must approach and pass it before reaching my goal. Furthermore, I know well that the nearer I get, the more noises will join the first. Soon there will be shouting and screaming, the sobs of those pushed past their limits. A cacophony of sights and sounds wait to prey upon me, hoping to distract me and draw me away from my careful plan and into the rampant chaos.
Even though it's been a number of years since boot camp, I trust the lessons learned there to guide me through the next several hours.

If I survived that, I can survive anything this situation can throw at me.

With one more deep breath, I push the car door open and head to the shopping mall. In my hand, I have the folded bills that I will drop into the red kettle of the bell ringer at the entrance before slipping through the door and on to the next phase of my plan...I know exactly who is getting what and where to get it.

I stop for a moment, tempted by the 'gift certificate' booth only a few feet away. It would be ideal...everyone could get exactly what they want and I can get out of here in just a few minutes.

And everyone would know just exactly how much thought I put into their gifts. I sigh again and start on my carefully planned route through the mall. After all, I have only myself to blame for waiting until Christmas eve to do my shopping.

I made my way here through horrendous traffic, spent hours driving through the maze they call a parking lot, outmaneuvering a pimply-faced teenager for the last parking space in the city and I am going to finish this just the way I planned.

After all, I'm a Marine. I can do this.

Can't I?

The end

If you've read my previous Christmas stories, you shouldn't have been surprised. If you haven't read my previous Christmas stories...WHY NOT?