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Fiction: Hunting by Auzelle Epeneter
Eddie slides underneath the heat lamp near the open door. She says, “That’s better,” to herself and everyone standing there smiles, nods, and looks at her. Her shoulders, her knees, the seams of her coat.
Outside the garage, rain covers the landscape in sheet after sheet of mist. Beyond the concrete, the yard careens into the mouth of a soaked valley that stretches into rolling banks lit by soft living room lamps and people eating dinner.
“This is a .38 millimeter, right?” someone asks. Everyone laughs and they pass it around, aiming it into the dark yard.
“But that’s nothing.” The host brings a shotgun with a long barrel—cold, oiled, and beautiful in the dark. “Check this out.” It glows in the light from the neighbor’s house.
Eddie steps back and drops her cigarette onto the wet concrete. She watches as the rain absorbs the smoke.
“This could do some real damage, you know,” he says, wiping a cloth across the gun.
“Beautiful,” everyone says.
“It’s my dad’s Christmas present to himself,” he tells them. “Not sure if it’s even been fired yet.”
“When I was a kid,” Eddie offers, “My dad took me and my sister camping.”
Everyone turns to her.
She tells them, “We shot shotguns into the trees. You know, as targets.” She looks down at her feet, frozen to the ground. They watch her without moving.
“I only got to shoot once because he told me to hold the gun close to me, and I didn’t.” She gestures along her side. “I had a bruise that went from here to here.”
“Yeah,” everyone says, and looks away.
On the other side of the valley, someone turns on lights as they move through the house. A draft picks up, blowing rain into the garage. Everyone steps back.
“Well,” the host pulls another gun with a massive silver barrel from a shelf. “This one’s my uncle’s, and even he can barely handle it.”
He brushes the hair from his forehead and says, “I fired it last weekend and my shoulder still hurts.”
Eddie moves to the edge of the group and watches the valley continue to be soaked. She reaches her arm into the dark, and the rain touches her in tiny, icy bursts. “Cold,” she says to herself, and pulls her hand back into the garage.
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