In Memory of Edwin, Joseph, Kameron, Leilah, Mary, Raul, and Rodolfo. Sun scorches the West Texas desert. Air conditioners hum on high. At a local pool, sun-drenched arms rest on cobalt noodles. Some guy runs a stop sign and is pulled over. He steps out of his car and shoots. Kills a Texas Highway Patrolman just like that. Steps back in his Honda, his AR-15 beside him, and speeds down I-20, still shooting. Twelve hundred miles away, it’s a typical Saturday afternoon. Then, with a soft ping, a news alert appears on my phone: Eight people killed in Odessa, Texas. One was at the car dealership with her family. One was standing in his parents’ front yard. One was waiting at a traffic light with his wife and two children. One was talking on the cell to her sister. One was driving home from work. One was a veteran of Afghanistan. One was from El Paso. The eighth one embraced the gun.
Chella Courington is a writer and teacher whose poetry and fiction appear in anthologies and journals including SmokeLong Quarterly and New World Writing. Her lyrical, flash novella, Adele and Tom: The Portrait of a Marriage (Breaking Rules Publishing), is featured at Vancouver Flash Fiction. A 2020 Pushcart and Best Small Fictions Nominee, Courington (she/her) lives in California.