This was a lesson in writing that I learned many years ago. I remember it well. I am trying to remember this rule as I write portions of our novel.
On the plane back to Connecticut from South Carolina, I was reminded of the rule by a young man sitting next to me. Tyler from St. Louis was a marine returning from a short vacation to his base in California. He had explained to me that he was in the infantry and had been to Afghanistan. He was in a unit that flew helicopter missions.
Let me paraphrase our dialogue, using the rule.
Me: “Oh, Tyler, that must have been so frightening.”
T: “Yes, ma’am. The first time I got on the heli was the worst. There is no door and no one wears a seatbelt because everyone has backpacks on.”
Me: “Did you fly at night?”
T: “Yes, ma’am. You get in and you look out the door and can’t tell how far above land you are. It is completely dark.”
Me: “How did you deal with your terror, that first time?”
T: “I just grabbed on to the guy next to me and told him if I was going to fall out, he was going with me.”
Me: “Oh honey. You must never tell your mother this. Or at least tell her you always managed to get into the helicopter first.”
T: “I can’t ma’am. My job is always to be the last one in.”
God bless you, Tyler. I will always remember you, and the rule.