But now that we’re in the 21st century, I suppose 1948 is definitely historical. But then were does contemporary begin? Is a story set in 1993 historical? That doesn’t seem right to me somehow. I’d still think of a story in the ’90s as modern. Calling an ’80s story a historical doesn’t seem right either. But is it truly contemporary? The world has changed a lot since the days of Rubik’s Cubes, Pacman and Dynasty ruling the airwaves. (Oh, those shoulder pads!)
“I thought tents were supposed to have floors.”
Jim ducked in behind Cal, shoulders hunched, neither of them quite able to stand upright even in the center. “I guess it depends on the tent.”
“Think I should ask Tyrell for another?”
A recruit followed them in, chuckling. “I’d pay you to ask the son of a bitch. Of course he’d make you sleep outside for the next two weeks.”
“I have a bad feeling that this tent and ‘outside’ are not as far removed as we’d like them to be, boys.” Cal dropped his sea bag on one side of the tent, his shoulders sighing in relief as he slipped the pack off his back as well.
Jim dropped his stuff beside Cal’s, and the rest of the men marked their space. Not that there was much to go around. Soon they were called to the mess hall for chow, which they gobbled down. It was the same old slop, and Cal forbid himself to imagine what gourmet delicacies his parents and sister were eating at home.
In the tent at the end of the evening, Cal tried to make himself as comfortable as possible on the cold earth, spreading his rain poncho beneath him. “At least today we actually marched somewhere. Although I can’t help but feel that we took the long way around this island.”
Jim snorted. “Yeah, I got that feeling too. But it’ll be nice to actually use our rifles instead of just lugging them around, so I’m glad we’re here. ”
Heads cushioned by their sea bags, Cal, Jim and the others settled in, rough blankets pulled up tightly to their chins. Despite his discomfort, Cal quickly dropped off into a deep sleep.
It was likely a couple of hours later when he woke, shivering from head to toe in the bitter cold. When the sun shone in South Carolina, even in the winter it never got too chilly. But under gray skies and rain, it could be a different story.
The cold leeched up from the ground, taking away every ounce of body heat and leaving Cal rigid, curled into the fetal position with knees to chest. In the darkness, he could hear Jim’s teeth chattering.
Inching closer, Cal gritted his own teeth. “Christ, I thought the south was supposed to be warm.”
Shuddering, Jim whispered back over his shoulder. “Feels colder than the barn in the dead of winter when I’m up early milking the cow. I’d have some gloves and a hat on, that’s for sure. These uniforms don’t quite cut it.”
“Not quite.” Cal shimmied closer. “Maybe we can share our blankets. Two’s better than one.”
In the murk, he could make out Jim’s nod, and they edged toward each other, spreading their blankets. A warning bell sounded in Cal’s mind as he pressed against Jim’s back. Even through the layers of their uniforms and jackets, Cal already felt ten degrees warmer inside and out.
His mouth was inches from the back of Jim’s neck, his senses filled with his friend’s scent. The urge to close the final gap between them and press his lips to Jim’s fair skin was overwhelming. The other recruits were shivering together in their corners of the tent, and in the dark, shapes had to be close to even be visible. No one would see…