This short short story features in ‘Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand’, published by Canterbury University Press with the support of Creative New Zealand.
Another bullet hissed over the dump. Ricky missed the seagull by a mile.
He reckoned he shot good, considering the gun was tall as him. Jem wasn’t allowed
anywhere near it: no knowing what she’d do. She emerged from behind a pile of
rubbish, holding a can that bulged from the side. It was huge, even bigger than the
ones of baked beans they cook up for school breakfast.
Jem pulled the label off and shook it in his face. ‘It’s a whole chook!’
‘Fuck off it is,’ he argued, before remembering the time she said she was going to kick
him in the dick and then kicked him in the dick. Girl didn’t stuff around. ‘In a tin?’
‘Listen.’ She flicked the swollen metal and it plinked real loud. ‘It’s gonna blow.
When she chucked it at the concrete Ricky screwed his eyes shut. He opened them
to dented can and a frowning sister.
‘Shoot it,’ she said, ‘I’ll hold it up.’
‘Nah, that’s dumb.’
‘Come on! Dad said don’t be a pussy,’ she said, walking away across the dump.
He rested on a mouldy cushion and took aim. Jem held the can above her head, and
the gunsight drifted around it until Jem raised an impatient middle finger.
He pulled the trigger.
The can exploded.
Jem grinned through the descending mist of bone and giblet. She held what was left
to her chest – a jagged aluminium rose, blooming over her heart.