Fragile Like a Bomb

You tell yourself that you’re not fragile, or if you are, you’re fragile like a bomb, because you hear the timer ticking inside you, clicking like teeth, the cadence a little too precise and insistent when you see X at the fence line, far out in right field, and the girl he’s with is wearing your sister’s crocheted cardigan with sunflower designs, your sister who is eleven, two years older than you, two years younger than X, X who is now mauling your sister in broad daylight, during recess, with the rest of the kids massed on the blacktop playing tetherball or four square, their voices a clash of cackles and laughter, vocal explosions that put you even more on edge, but none of the other kids are alert to what’s happening on the baseball field, the daytime raping, and so without knowing how they do it, your legs start functioning in hyper drive and you’re nearly flying, though grounded, like a panicked roadrunner, and by the time you reach them X’s pants are slumped around his ankles, his pearly white ass bouncing in the air as he pumps over your sister, and she could be crying or moaning, you can’t tell which, but it doesn’t matter because the fuse inside you has been lit and, no, you’re not fragile at all, you’re not a Pussy like your dad says when he slaps your face and yanks your hair and says, “Suck it”, no, you’re a bomb being detonated, your fists shrapnel slamming into X’s bucket head, then his stupid, upturned, startled face, which is  nothing but bread dough against your hot metal fists, fists that can’t stop inflicting carnage even after a throng has surrounded you and Mr. M is pulling you off X, who is no longer moving, and when Mr. M spits out, “What the hell?” you say, “He was raping my sister,” but when you look, she’s gone, never was, and it’s just the pulp of the other boy on the ground, blood sprayed on brown grass and the cyclone fence, you listening to see if the ticking has stopped, or if it’s merely faltered again.



Len Kuntz

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and the author of four books, most recently the story collection, This Is Why I Need You, out now from Ravenna Press.  You can find more of his writing at Len recommends the Everett Gospel Mission.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, July 8, 2021 - 22:20