The baby cooed. The mother named him Ares. They’d just met each other three months ago. Mother, Gunnery Sergeant Adelyn Reine picked up a thirty pound kettlebell. Ares gasped and clapped his hands. Abigail did six sets of ten repetitions of kettlebell lifting, like a suitcase in front of her face.
She then romanced the treadmill. Ares giggled while he watched. Adelyn flashed a smile as she repeatedly struck her feet against the fast-moving tread. Once she reached her goal, she drank a sports drink and chased it with water. She checked her smartwatch. She’d been training three hours a day, ten times a week, ever since she recovered from giving birth to Ares. She breastfed her baby in her own gym, in her house in Newark, Delaware. She put Ares down for the night and took a shower and changed into pajamas. Without the father present, Adelyn had to figure out a way to stay in the Marine Corps and still provide for Ares. That next morning, Adelyn dropped Ares off at her mother’s house before she went down to the recruiter’s station.
“What is this?”
“That’s a FitRep,” First Sergeant Perry Halven said.
“I know that, I’m talking about my score.”
“Yes, it’s either have babies or stay in the Corps. You can’t have it both ways.”
“Like hell,” Adelyn said with indignation.
“I can only do so much. I can run past the captain that you’ve actually improved your score and have come within weight standards progressively. I hear you, Ad. But the Corps just doesn’t want to deal with mommy Marines who gain weight and have to get back in shape. They want you to be at the proper standards now.”
“Just push it through for me.”
“Like I said, there’s no guarantee in life and definitely not in the Marine Corps.”
Adelyn returned to her physical training. She ran six miles around her neighborhood. In all, she’d shed about fifteen pounds in a little over a month.
“You know he’s going to be a warrior, too, like his mommy,” Adeyln’s mother Gale said when she came to pick him up.
“Thanks, again, Mom. I appreciate it.”
“It’s always a pleasure to see the little ball of light,” Gale said.
Adelyn remained on a strict diet of no carbs, high protein, and healthy fats. She ate her salad topped with salmon, while Ares drank from his bottle. She smiled at him. After the meal, she took her son right back to their home gym. This time she completed two hundred and fifty burpees in ten minutes. She weighed herself. In four days, she had lost four pounds. She smirked. Mom and son went to bed.
Adelyn’s cell phone rang. The caller ID read, “WORK.” “Good morning,” Adelyn said.
“It’s me, Halven. Come down to the station. The captain wants to talk to you.”
Adelyn performed the same routine with her mother and then checked into the recruiter’s station.
Once she arrived, the PFCs, lance corporals, corporals, sergeants and staff sergeants all rendered the proper greeting of the day to Adelyn, and she responded in kind. A couch sat right next to the window where the junior Marines sat, and three desks sat where the sergeants and staff sergeants tried to enlist as many civilians as possible. Adelyn journeyed to the back where she shared an office with Halven. Captain Fiona Corver stood in front of the first sergeant.
“Good morning, ma’am,” Adelyn said.
“Good morning Gunny. Have a seat.”
Adelyn abided by the officer’s command.
Fiona breathed. “The commandant of the Marine Corps doesn’t want the female Marine to have to make the decision to care for her child or remain in the Corps. So, we’ve formulated an attractive offer for you. Your next move will be to retire as a gunny and then have enough money from this separation amount.”
Adelyn looked at Fiona like her hair was on fire.
“I don’t want to leave the Corps. You just said that Commandant Wainwright wants—”
“It’s not what she wants. It’s what I say.”
“Ma’am, with all due respect—”
“To hell with respect. You decided to get pregnant. Now, you must deal with the consequences.”
Adelyn didn’t get taken aback, she leaned in.
“Ma’am, I know I don’t have the brass to correct you, but I’m a woman before I’m a Marine, and am now a mother. I shouldn’t be pushed out of the Corps just because I decided to have a child.”
“You’re way out of line gunnery sergeant. You must remember that I am a Marine captain. You have made your decision. Deal with it.”
“I’m fit to serve. I will fight this.”
“And I will watch you fail.”
“I’m not built to fail.”