This is a story about children and a gun. Don’t worry, no one gets hurt and there aren’t any close calls. In fact, this gun doesn’t even shoot bullets. It expels babies. One after another, six in all, a full cylinder’s worth.
She was a loving mother, the gun. Her little ones nuzzled up to her and sucked her muzzle, but after all that shooting, her chambers were empty. She had no milk to provide (made, as she was, of steel), but formula is easily procured these days, so the babies grew fat and thrived.
As is the habit with babies, they shed their skins and swapped their stubby little bones for longer ones. Eventually, they became children and then young adults. They never ceased loving their mother, although they did come to realize her limitations: she had no hands to bake with, she was too short to open doors by herself, and she was never allowed on the school grounds, not even for parent/teacher conferences. Still, she was free and plentiful with her own blend of love and nurturing, and something akin to a heart crumpled and fissured every time one of her little birds flew the nest.
When, in her later years, she found herself alone once more, she desperately tried to fire herself up again. She missed the intimacy and clamor and of a houseful of children and figured that, since she was made of metal, she would be more than able to care for brood after brood. It was only then that she discovered that rust had started to impair her mechanisms and that even her plated exterior had begun to tarnish. She did her best to fill herself up, to brace herself, to fire true. However, she could not, on her own, replicate the touch of the hand that had, once upon a time, loaded her cylinder, pulled her hammer back and pulled the trigger. As far as I know, she is still lying somewhere, on her own, corroded and oxidizing, hoping that someday someone will come along and help her create new life.
Was it unfair of me to say that no one in this story gets hurt? Perhaps. Although, I’d ask you to remember that the mother isn’t a real person. She’s only a gun: a machine built for the purpose of discharging bullets and delivering lives.
Ingrid Jendrzejewski is currently a flash fiction editor at JMWW and her writing has found homes in places like Passages North, Rattle, The Los Angeles Review, Jellyfish Review, and The Mainichi. Links to her work can be found at ingridj.com and she occasionally tweets @LunchOnTuesday.