“Put me down! Now!” Cadet squealed as Gray carried her back into the bedroom. “I told you I’m not part of this unit anymore. I’m quitting! I’m going home!”
“That is not how any of this works,” Gray said, setting Cadet on her feet, then giving her a light push back onto the bed. Cadet let out a gasp as her sore butt touched the mattress and rolled onto her side to avoid putting weight on it.
“You heard her! I’m not cadet material.”
“I did hear her,” Gray said, standing over Cadet with her arms crossed. She looked down at the wriggling, angry young woman who was still trying to get out of bed, only to be nudged back down by Gray’s knee. “Including the sentence before where she said you had unique talents.”
“I don’t care. I’m done with this unit. I’m done with all of this. I don’t want to be part of it anymore.” Cadet tried to get up, but was pushed down again quite firmly by Gray and pinned in place, Gray’s left hand scrunching in the front of her shirt.
“Stop that!” Cadet squealed with frustration.
“No, you stop it.” Gray leaned down, lecturing Cadet in a low, firm voice. “You can’t throw a fit just because you heard something you didn’t want to hear. Do you know how most soldiers are trained? They spend months being yelled at and called out for their weaknesses. You overheard one little comment and you’re melting down. Did it ever occur to you, for a single second, to prove her wrong?”
Cadet stopped squirming and looked at Gray. “That’s not the same thing. She meant what she said. She wasn’t trying to motivate me. She was telling you that nothing that’s happened is her fault.”
“You can still prove her wrong,” Gray said, her voice calm and stern as she released her hold on Cadet.”Now get some sleep.”
“Why?” Cadet mumbled miserably, curling up on her side as the anger and the fight left her. “So I can wake up in the morning and be a horrible cadet?”
“That’s exactly right,” Gray nodded. “So you can get up a horrible cadet and over the course of the day get better at what you do. And you’ll do the same the next day, and the day after that, until one day nobody is talking about what kind of cadet you were or weren’t, because your work speaks for itself.”
There was silence after Gray’s words, as if Cadet were digesting a concept she hadn’t heard of before.
“You think I can do this?” Cadet asked the question in a soft, embarrassed murmur.
Gray reached down, took Cadet by the chin and looked her dead in the eye. “I think you have the will to do whatever you want to do, Cadet. I don’t think anybody knows your potential. Not even you. And I know you won’t ever find out if you give up now. Understand?”
Cadet nodded. “Yes ma’am.”
“Good.” Gray released her chin and stood back. “Now get some sleep. Tomorrow you’re going to have me to contend with all over again.”