As a new emergency law goes into effect, a step toward making my existence illegal, I walk into a sporting goods store in Liberty, Missouri and buy a semi-automatic target pistol.
The woman behind the counter doesn’t mind my lavender nails. The spoon rings on my fingers. She puts pistols in my hands. She upsells me. I buy three cartons of rounds. I’m in and out in fifteen minutes.
South on Highway 71, five miles over the speed limit, I cannot tell which part of me is paranoia and which is pattern recognition. The gun sits in my lap, in my hand, pointing at the empty passenger seat. The safety is on, but yes: she’s loaded. She smells amazing.
I’ll name the gun Liberty and she’ll sleep beside me in bed. I’ll walk her with my dog, every day, through a neighborhood that has always felt safe. I’ll bring her to the gym where I’ll learn Muay Thai from a local heavyweight champion. She’ll wait for me in the locker room where I’ll pretend to be a man.
I’ll reach for Liberty nervously, at first, then habitually, in the way one learns to reach for a cellphone. I’ll begin to long for the country, where I can plink cans any time of day. I’ll long to print out little photos of fascists to put on the face of every can I plink. I’ll clean Liberty every week, even the rare weeks I do not fire her.
I’ll get on a first name basis with a man at a shooting range in Raytown. I’ll put on lipstick. People will give me looks, but I’ll become a markswoman. I’ll cap every angel on the head of a pin.
As I drive home, the world widens. Sharpens. There’s a future for me, and people like me, somewhere out here. It smells of gunmetal.