Written by Grace Sikorski
After all these years, my aim is still pretty good. Mama would be proud. At home I put it in my bedside table, fully loaded.
He stands at my side, while I eat breakfast with my girl and my girl’s Daddy. A giant of a man, around six feet seven, at least 300 pounds of rock muscle, he doesn’t take his eyes off my girl’s Daddy. He wears his gun strapped across his chest. He fired a warning shot last night to show my girl’s Daddy what will happen if he ever lays a hand on my girl again. Last night was the first time he laid a hand on my girl. Last night was the last time, the bodyguard said. My girl’s Daddy pretends the bodyguard isn’t there. He likes to pretend. Pretend he didn’t smack my girl just because she wouldn’t go to sleep. Pretend we didn’t have a fight. Pretend I like it when he pecks my cheek good morning, like nothing happened. The bodyguard tenses, fingers his trigger. Don’t, he says. His voice is deep and loud. It shakes the house. It shakes the back of my head. My girl’s Daddy throws his plate into the sink where it shatters. He sucks air through his teeth, sucks blood from his finger. The bodyguard blows air out his nose and smirks. I take my girl to work with me today. The bodyguard insists on driving. Better that way since my hands would shake too badly if I tried. He secures the seatbelt. His hands are firm, fast, despite my girl’s resistance, the strength of a defiant seven-year-old. The bodyguard says, do as I say. My girl says I don’t like big and loud and scary. I say behave yourself. When we get to the office, my boss asks about the bruised eye. I say it’s nothing. My girl runs into the back room to play with the copy machine. She can’t get away fast enough from the bodyguard. The bodyguard finds my old Colt .45 and takes me to a field off Route 66 to shoot at pop cans. After all these years, my aim is still pretty good. Mama would be proud. At home I put it in my bedside table, fully loaded. Later that night, when my girl’s Daddy gets into bed, I hear his voice in the darkness. You don’t get it, he says. Kids . . . they understand a good smack every once in a while. My Daddy raised me that way. A man would understand. But my bodyguard doesn’t understand. When I was a girl, he was my bodyguard, protecting me from every threat. Stray dogs, oncoming traffic, playground bullies, even my own Daddy before he died that strange Thanksgiving back in ’89, the year Mama changed her name and moved us clear across the country. My girl’s Daddy says don’t go to bed angry, puts his hand on my hip, presses against me. I just roll to the edge of the bed so the bodyguard can sleep between us.
Check out this work in print in Serpentine Vol. 3