Chelsi threw herself down on to the couch of the back porch of the Prov house. “Hey Thomas, Janelle. How are you two?” Though they sat in the shade, the mid afternoon sun heated up the air enough, so that without effort small bits of sweat beaded up on the foreheads.
“Where good,” Janelle piped up. “How are you? How’s your site?”
“Well, when I came back from medical last week, my house was flooded, and the back portion of my roof collapsed.”
“Oh no,” Thomas chuckled, taking a swig of his drink. “Have you talked to Paige yet? Something like that happened to her too. Like her walls broke. It’s crazy, have her show you the pictures.”
“How is it now? Is it still broken?” Janelle squeaked.
Chelsi sighed, “My house is always broken. But my host family came a propped the roof up some with sticks. When it started slumping again, I went back and got another one of my friends to get some more sticks to give it a little more support. It seems okay now, it not leaking any more than normal. We’ll see how it is when I get back.” Needing a drink, Chelsi stood up an made her way through the side door and into the kitchen.
The kitchen was a buzz with people peeling potatoes and cutting, chopping, shredding coleslaw components. “Hey Chelsi,” Chelsi’s friend Tyler set down his knife and opened his arms for a hug.
“Hi Tyler, how’s dinner going?”
“Good, good, everything is going alright. When did you get here?”
“Just now, I had a horrible time finding transport so I ended up just calling a taxi. I also thought, ‘maybe I just shouldn’t come.’ But I knew I’d regret missing my own Close of Service party.” Even though Chelsi wasn’t officially closing, or ending, her service for another 15 months, she still felt a kinship to the other fellows in her intake who were leaving, and didn’t want to miss out on the tradition. “I guess I could have walked, but I really didn’t want to be too tired by the time I got here.” With that she reached up on the cupboard shelf for a cup. The vast number of people at the house meant her choices were limited. She decided on a large stainless steel mug.
“No way! You need that energy for the mud pit later!” It was Oliver’s voice, coming up from behind.
“Oh my goodness, you guys really want ME to get in the mud pit? And do what?”
“We’re going to wrestle!” Oliver, cheerful as ever. Tyler laughed.
“Alright, we’ll see.” Chelsi twisted the spout of a wine box on the counter and filled her cup.
The hot day slipped in to cool night. All the while empty cups were refilled, and bellies were stuffed with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and coleslaw. Chelsi was relaxing on the front porch with a few of the volunteers from the newest intake, when a ruckus of sounds drifted through the house from the backyard and into her ears.
“What’s that? What in the world are they doing back there?”
“I think that was Maddy defeating Oliver in the mud pit,” Victoria chucked. Chelsi had almost complete forgot about the mud pit. “I think that means I’m next, but I definitely don’t want to wrestle Maddy.” Victoria quickly downed the rest of her drink and stood up. Curious, Chelsi followed suit.
“Are you going to get in the mud pit, Chelsi?” Jordan asked, remaining cross legged on the floor.
“I don’t know, will go down there, check it out.” Arm in arm Chelsi and Victoria made their way across the front porch, through the house and out in the backyard. All the while whispering about potential wrestling mates.
In the poorly lit yard only about half of the people could be seen. The others, covered head to toe in mud were catalogued against the night.
“Victoria, I think your next!” Tyler announced, being the first to notice the two women’s arrival.
“Okay, but I’m only going to go in if Chelsi goes in with me.”
“Fine, I’ve been convinced.” Chelsi smiled.
The two women removed nearly everything. Shirts, shoes, socks, skirts, watches, earing, so that when they were ready they had on nothing but their underclothes. Holding each other’s hand for support, the two stepped into the pit together. Chelsi hadn’t anticipated just how slippery it would be.
“Okay, rules,” Tyler announced. “Everything goes, but to win you need to pin both of your opponent’s shoulders for at least three seconds.”
Chelsi, not really sure what she was getting herself into, instinctively crouched down. Her friend Victory was tall and narrow, so maybe if I get her below her center of gravity?
“On my mark,” Chelsi was aware of the small group that began to gather more closely around. “GO!”
It was harder than Chelsi imagined it would be. The mud was slick and any time either woman made an attempt to grab the other, the other would just slip away. They laughed and squealed some but had to remain mindful in order to keep mud from filling their mouths. It was difficult to say just how long they fumbled around in the pit for, but the two grew tired quickly, And Chelsi, having finally gotten a secure reach around the back of Victoria’s knees, was able to knock her off her feet and on to her bum. Chelsi was surprised by the strength of Victoria’s upper body, when she tried to push her back into the mud. Chelsi nearly lost her advantage more than once, until Victoria’s arms tired, while Chelsi’s weight didn’t, and Victoria’s back and shoulders slid into the mud.
“ONE, TWO, THREE,” Tyler’s voice rang, and the crowd cheered.
Chelsi stood up, extending a hand to help Victoria, who took it with a smile. “You’re right, that was kind of fun. Thank you.”
“Yeah! Wow you’re good,” Victoria laughed.
The two friends carefully picked their way out of the pit, the crowd backing away to give them a wide berth.
“Alright, who’s next?!”