The underwear drawer creaked in the night, and every muscle in her body tensed, but her husband’s deep, ignorant sleep continued without interruption.
She almost laughed: Larry could snooze through the Second Coming, then yawn and ask Jesus what the fuss was about.
Bernice loved him and didn’t want to wake the big lump, so she finished dressing in the dark.
It went well, except when she tripped over one of her shoes. She had to catch herself on Granny’s rocking chair. Its arm cut into her thigh, forming the first, but certainly not the last, bruise of the day.
She checked on the kids, who slept in their rooms. She indulged a brief fit of jealously aimed at all of her sweet family members still comfortably lost in the Land of Nod.
The warm bed called to her, but no.
Sleep was for another day. Duty awaited her.
Her mission required suffering. A heavy coat would keep the chill away until the action started, then it would become a sweat-drenched hindrance.
That wouldn’t do, so she picked out a thin sweater that would provide a minimum shield against the November cold.
The sweater set off her battle attire nicely, and it was old, so it wouldn’t matter if it got ripped in the coming fight.
She ate Cheerios and fruit with only one cup of coffee. Her opponents wouldn’t offer quarter for bathroom breaks, and neither would she.
Her goal was to go, go, go until victory was hers. She had no room to pity herself or others.
Margaret Wilcox would be among her enemies today, but she also was Bernice’s ride. They chatted about nothing at all, both knowing their light camaraderie wouldn’t survive once the battle started.
They arrived early, but everyone else arrived early as well. With a cold, quickly reddening nose, Bernice smelled adrenaline wafting on the air. She studied the other combatants, most of them women.
Some were grim-faced, as they mentally rehearsed their strategies. A few smiled, pretending this early morning affair was nothing but a lark. Bernice knew the smiles were false, the nonchalance faked.
Zero hour approached. Minutes away. Seconds away.
Bernice couldn’t feel the cold through her thin, sacrificial sweater.
She rolled her shoulders, giving Margaret and the rest a good look at her sharp elbows. Think about that, she thought.
Finally, zero hour.
Finally, the doors opened.
Finally, Black Friday.
Bernice’s terrible war cry cut through the dark morning. Back home, Larry sensed it in his dreams.
With fear in their eyes, the formally nonchalant ones moved away, giving Bernice the bubble of opportunity she’d hoped for. She would exploit the opening to its fullest.
The bloodlust was on her. She would win this Black Friday. Glory thy name is Bernice.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.