“Power” (November 2010)

note: this story was significantly edited before being posted here.

trigger warning: discusses rape

“About that uniform, respect it. You have to
respect it, even when you’re lying with a woman.”
-Manlio Argueta, One Day of Life

There. His gun. On the mantel, beside my bracelet. He is sleeping. I’m going to take his weapon and blow his head open.

The things he did. Each time. I’ll never wash this filth from my body, scour the flesh clean. I had to pretend that I have love. For him.

Savage. The people, dead, because of him, them. Houses burned. Farms mud. His uniform is there on the chair next to the dying fire. That grey. In my village, grey is the color of life, life that is no longer alive.

He couldn’t even come to bed without the grey shirt, buttoned all the way up to his neck. I wanted to light his beard on fire as he tilted his head back, mouth open, and I still wanted to after he fell asleep. Maybe I still will, after I’ve killed him.

It’s hard to pretend you enjoy it. But I had to. This gun, his gun, on the mantel like a snake. This will make it true. There is only one way to enjoy it: knowing I’ll kill him.

Others. The next victim…she will take her soul-killer’s gun and do the same. When our men come back from the pineapple groves, they will find us dishonored. But a new kind of honor will grasp us. Not an honor of the private parts, but in our hearts, in our hands. Guns.

We will shame our men when they come home, more than they will shame us for having conceded, our enemies’ rifle butts and bayonets. We will make men feel like filth, like vomit, and then we will feed them dinner. They will see our hands holding guns, our molten eyes, and they will eat in fear, as we have forced down each boiling day of grimy disillusion.

And then, we will share our guns—our guns—with them. We’ll show them the power they never thought we’d have. Only that color, grey, seemed capable of wielding control. Never did red blood, a child’s, gleam under the desert sun with a greater spark than a gold button on a soldier’s jacket.

But, as soon as I have killed this man, his own blood will become dull as his grey shirt. And ours will boil. Red will rise. The heart of my people, so clenched and brittle like an old, dried fig, will erupt. When I’ve taken his gun. When I’ve killed him, and saved another woman’s life.

I climb out of bed, a rabbit from a hole. My skin looks black in this dull firelight. At first I take the blanket to protect me from the cold, but I realize, I am hot. Trembling. Shivering in the heat of mourning myself.

My feet feel the woolen rug. I smell the wine, of which I had none. In the mirror across the room, I barely see myself, the outline of a woman, a freedom fighter.

The wooden shaft, lined with metal. I feel it against my hand, smooth as creek stones. The bayonet is on his belt; I will use it later, to make sure and remind myself of the moments-old feeling.

The gun is in my hands now. It feels warm, familiar. I was with Crazy Horse in a past life. Or Geronimo. I killed the spiritless without fear. Time to kill again.

His outline now. Rising and falling. Throaty, aching breaths through his red pig-nose. The tongue, flapping in his throat like his flag in the dry wind. Soon, the flag will fall.

I step towards him, slowly, carefully. His boots are in the middle of the room; I move around them.

The muzzle is at his eyelid. I want to scream, so he will face his fate, not die in his sleep like an old man. But I know better than that. The gun will scream for me.

Now, I’m squeezing the trigger, the way he squeezed my throat at the end. And that will be his final finish; now that I have him in my sights, his soul belongs to me. Now. NOW, I SAID.

A blast, lightning. His body slides up the bed towards his head, as though the rest of him wants to die. He trembles; a frightened lamb, a dead leaf, an unarmed daughter.

His grey mind is splattered like mud. He doesn’t even know he is dead. Soon, all of them will know. A heart is loose. It can kill you now.

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