Tiny is the first female marine on the new 1911 base. I spot her the day she arrives, hair long, dog tags fresh and shiny. She has no idea what she’s getting into on this base, or maybe she does. Women are complicated like that. They rarely show you their strength until boom, it’s time to move. I like her instantly. The way her manicured brows stand above her light green eyes. The way she does everything alone. I must know her. But why the nickname Tiny? Women in the marines rarely receive nicknames. Curiosity in force, I plan to approach her in the bunks after a secret shot of Jameson, a little liquid encouragement on Wednesday 1100.
“Private Ramirez,” I call, addressing her by her government name. She stands, her eyes straight ahead.
“Yes, ma’am,” She replies, her body straight as a board.
“At ease, Ramirez, I just want to introduce myself. I’m Sergeant McCarthy. It’s good to see a fresh face here after so long.” I extend my hand and she meets mine, unwaveringly.
“Nice to meet you, Sergeant. They call me Tiny. Yes, good to see a fellow female.” She smiles. Then I take the shot.
“Just one question, private,” I stammer, “why do they call you Tiny?”
She lifts the side of her tank, exposing her right oblique. Her skin is ripped beyond belief with scars and third-degree burns.
“Just a tiny shell.” She winks as she climbs the bunk.
Amy Van Duzer is a lifelong writer and MFA candidate at Mt. Saint Mary’s in Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in Flora Fiction, The Drabble, and Cephalo Press, amongst others.