We Did Not Have a Dog

We are in the rice fields hunting dove. It’s nice to be included, but I don’t like the noise the guns make and I don’t like it when my dad and brother shoot living things out of the sky—just like that, dead.

We do not have a dog, so they point me to the fallen. It’s November and the sky is gray, the ground crunchy underfoot. “Wanna give it a go?” my brother asks, nudging me with his favorite 12-gauge.

Sometimes I have nightmares and the cries wake my mom. When she comes to check if I’m okay I can hear my dad telling her to stop, that she’s babying me again. “She needs to toughen up,” he says.

So today, I won’t be a baby. Today I will shoot the gun. It’ll hurt, but I won’t tell. It’ll leave a mark, but I won’t tell.

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