shotgun 1Title: Shooters
Author: Garrett Ashley
Category: Fiction

They take turns out in the field shooting. The boy is shooting and the father turns once and smiles and looks back towards the doves and he is shooting.

The men across the field begin to shoot, and the surviving, confused doves make a circle back to the hay bale where the boy and the father are kneeling in the dirt. The boy shoots and a dove falls.

"Got one," says the father.

The boy is supposed to be a man now. He runs to the dove and watches it squirm like a fish out of its element. "Papa," he says.

"Got it," says the father.

"It's moving."

"Shoot it again, you grazed it."

The boy holds his Browning to the bird's ancient gray feathers and looks away. The explosion sounds and the bird is dead.

The man's face turns red. "When you shoot you don't look away," he says. "When you're a man you don't look away."

The boy does not cry. He no longer wants to be the man his father taught him to be. He wants to be young forever like the bird so he can fly away and take his own orders and make his own destiny, though every bird takes a bullet every once in a while.

Garrett Ashley lives in MS and studies English at the University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in several places including Neon Literary Magazine and Brain Harvest, and he is currently trying to keep A Widowmoon Press running.