That’s the line, right? Good authors borrow, great authors steal.
And I totally did. One of my main characters got up and went for an early morning run (he’s active duty, so even when he’s rolling out of his fiance’s bed in suburbia, there are habits.) However, as I’m very against both mornings* and running**, I needed a good source of description for suburbia by dawn’s early light.
However, Alma Boykin believes in mornings, and in the high arid plains of Texas, believes in exercising while it’s cool and the UV is not pouring down exactly like the rain doesn’t. So, I read through several of her descriptions of early morning walks, and, ah, liberally borrowed for scene setting.
And then I asked forgiveness, that being easier than permission. I think I got it. If I disappear, well, maybe I didn’t?
*Work offered me day shift, thinking that I’m senior enough I shouldn’t “have” to take swings. I didn’t quite make exorcising motions at them while yelling “Get thee behind me, Satan!”, but I did firmly turn down the “opportunity” to move “up” to a “better” shift. Ugh.
**I walk. I can walk faster across a one-million-square-foot facility than some people can run, but if you are running in industrial environments, things better have already gone pear shaped…
Twitch rolled out of bed to the inskin alarm twitching gently at his nerves. While Lizzes set a clock on her side of the bed, he preferred the internal alarm. Not only did he use it for many different mission-required go times, but it also didn’t wake her up. He hit the loo, started the coffee, and got his morning pushups done before the death rattle said the pot was ready. A quick check on his darling showed her still sleeping like an angel, with the ring he’d agonized over still secured on her finger. He gently closed the door, poured a go cup, and let himself out the back and down the stairs.
Gunny Halvorsen was already up and waiting with his own coffee. Twitch fell in, and they took off for the morning run, down streets just starting to stir. The sky was starting to streak with pink on the high clouds against the dark purple-grey of the night, and the eastern sky was glowing with impending day. The shepherd mix at the corner gave its usually friendly wag and soft woof, pacing them along the fence as they ran by, and their feet splashed through the overflow trickle from a pre-dawn watering at the house that cared a little too much about its perfect lawn.
The birds were already awake, making their morning chatter without any alarm calls, and intermittent traffic moved by on the main road two streets over, sound carrying above their breath and the sound of feet on pavement. The old lady at the one-story slightly tumbledown cottage who didn’t get out much had checked her mail recently; the box was no longer cracked slightly open from the amount of stuff inside, and Gunny nodded, looking happier for that as they went past.
Cutting back down the alley, the black raggedy-looking cat he knew at least three houses fed eyed them from on top of a fence, sitting smugly out of reach – if there had been anyone unknown, it would be looking a whole lot more like “el gato diablo” that the neighbors generally called it. Lizzes sometimes left food out for it, and whether it ate the leftovers, or the mice or rats ate it and then were eaten, Twitch figured Diablo would get the food eventually. Only when they arrived back at their shared back yard, feeling the burn of a good run and the peace of knowing all was well in their area of operation, did Gunny speak. “Well?”
“She said yes.” The fact still made him grin. I got her! She’s all mine! Forever!
“Good. She needs a combat vet to steady her; she’s too high-strung.” Gunny nodded, and stopped to take a long pull of coffee before fixing him with an experienced eye. “What’s chewing on you, son?”
“She’s going downrange, with her company.” He shook his head, and failed to find a smile. “I’m supposed to be the one getting shot at, not her.”
“Life’s full of risks. My wife followed me from base to base for twenty years, and while I was the one with twelve tours, she’s the one who isn’t here anymore.” Gunny was silent a long moment, and Twitch grimaced, not quite sure how to offer sympathy for that. Not quite sure he wanted to face the fact that getting Lizzes meant he could lose her, too. “If you didn’t want to risk her, you should have carried her until she found her a job with a purely civilian company, instead of getting her this contracting gig.”
“You saw this coming.” Now that Gunny had pointed it out, he could see it, too. What had he been thinking? He’d been thinking that he knew just who needed her field of research, and like a lieutenant, failed to think one consequence further than that…
“I wouldn’t have recommended her if she hadn’t already proven she can keep it together under fire.” Gunny took another drink, and smiled. “Next time, son, get her pregnant so she stays here and trains someone else to go downrange.”
“Working on it!” Twitch replied, and laughed. He ran a hand through sweaty hair, and looked up at her window. “I’ll go work on it some more now, in fact.”
“Get on with you. I don’t need an after-action report!” Gunny waved him off as they split for the separate back doors.