Target Practice
Mary Miller

My daddy bought me a gun and then I wanted someone to beg for mercy.

I was living alone, microwaving my meals and dreaming of my carjackers. In the daytime I couldn't remember it as something that happened to me; the story unfurled like a trip to the supermarket, more tedious with each retelling. 

He drove me out to his land, fifty acres of scrappy pines sandwiched between bigger plots and no road in. Boys on four-wheelers circled, stopped. My daddy talked but they looked at me. I put up my wall. I tore it down but then I put it up again to show myself how easy it was, how different I could feel in the span of a second: open, closed, open, closed. The big one gunned it and then the little one gunned it and we kept walking, marking our way with tires and stumps. Finally we came to a clearing but there were no cans, as I'd imagined, and there was no fruit. Only the trees were full of life.

"They hardly ever shoot," he said, "but we're going to teach you to pull the trigger."

Mary Miller's stories have been published in many online and print magazines including the Oxford American, Mississippi Review, Quick Fiction, elimae, Black Clock, and New Stories from the South, 2008.

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Photo detail on main page courtesy of Naomi Ibuki.

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