Unicorn

Dear Planet Earth,

“Hey, Exterminator.”

I looked up from my cold rice and beans to see Rachel‘s deceptively angelic face staring back.

“Don’t call me that,” I said.

“Why not? It’s a cool name.” She sat down on the stool across from me. “When I was a kid, I wanted my mom to change my name to ‘Unicorn,’ but she said that was stupid.”

I almost asked that ten year old when she thought she stopped being a kid. I almost asked her where her mother was.

“Look what I got.” Her eyes lit up and she reached inside her shirt. She pulled out a long bullet hanging around a dog tag chain. “It’s one of their bullets. Santiago put the holes in it for me.”

I went back to eating my gruel, tried to avoid looking at the giant projectile.

“Oh, and you can have your book back.” She pulled out the copy of The Time Machine from her messenger bag and slid it toward me. My father used to read it to me every night. “It was kind of boring.”

I laughed, weakly. “Compared with reality, yeah, I guess so.”

She abruptly stood up and saluted me. She had other errands to run, more adults to vex.

“Bye, Exterminator.”

Strength is the outcome of need, my father would read to me. Security sets a premium on feebleness.

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