When Jane graduated college, her father gave her a man’s gold watch and a gun.
“Where are the bullets?” she asked.
“Already loaded,” he said.
Jane noticed the safety wasn't on.
“Don't get any ideas,” he warned. Jane’s father had warned her of many things: to keep her legs closed because boys were scum (unless they bought her dinner first); to keep a look out for the water towers because they were really alien ships soon to launch. There were warnings about the apocalypse and the job market. Sometimes his warnings were so convoluted Jane gave up trying to understand them, such as when he warned her about demons disguised as homeless people who said they were really angels. About every fifth warning made sense (the tank always had a little bit of gas left even if it said it was empty).
The man’s watch made no sense. Jane’s wrists are freakishly small.
“Fits perfectly,” her dad said when she tried it on. Jane’s mother would have disagreed, if she were still there, but she had run off with another man just shy of Jane’s eighth birthday. Her dad took her to the snake museum as a present, which was pretty okay. Jane had always liked snakes.
She raised the gun to her waist, the way she had seen in old mobster movies. The watch slid up her forearm.
“Keep your elbows in; those water towers take off pretty fast.”
Nancy Hightower has published short fiction and poetry in journals such as storySouth, Sundog Lit, Gargoyle, A capella Zoo, and Word Riot. Her novel, Elementarí Rising (2013) received a starred review in Library Journal and was chosen as Debut of the Month. In 2015, Port Yonder Press published The Acolyte, her first collection of poetry that rewrites biblical narratives with a surreal, feminist twist. Currently, she reviews science fiction and fantasy for The Washington Post and is working on a book about digital fictions with Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky). She teaches at Hunter College.