Emma Charlton


we hover over a box of unshot bullets, two young girls.
she whispers, “if you touch one, you’ll die.” 
“that's not true.”

she runs a finger around the corner of the box,
its edges are tapering, the white coating bends away like a layer of skin.

my grandpa is in the kitchen making ice cream.
the machine starts angrily,  
			          crushing candy canes.
my toes ache from the weight of my body. I flatten my feet
to see just over the edge of the box.  
					the machine whirs like a saw,
peppermint drifts down the hallway,

she touches a finger to her lips, presses them together,
reaches the other hand towards the rows of bullets taunting us.
her finger drifts towards a point, I lift onto my toes
swat her hand away, accidentally brushing my palm along the bullets.
she laughs a mean laugh
			         the whirring stops, silenced
as I hold my wrist, waiting for something to happen, waiting
	for my hand to turn black,
	for my palm to dissolve,
	for my life line to split,
	for my legs to give out, for good.

Emma Charlton studies English and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Her nonfiction has previously been published in Ice Box, where she is now the editor-in-chief. Emma enjoys skiing, exploring local coffee shops, and working on her small art business.

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