by Gay Degani
Sheila crouches behind a pile of discarded chimney bricks a few yards back from the lake’s beach. Acacias and wild vines screen her from the swimmers.
Don’t these stupid people know? Are they so oblivious?
She wears combat boots, khaki pants, three ripped and soiled T-shirts layered one on top of the other, a white cotton fiber mask over her nose and mouth. Her cramping hand clutches a machete. Even in the shade, the August sun roars in her ears.
They’re idiots in a time capsule. One of their own delusional making.
“Hey.” The voice cracks, boy going on man.
She leaps up, arm snapping blade above head. He’s so close she can make out the tip of his hipbone above his swim trunks, the deep acne craters on his cheek.
One slice through the air would do it. Then run.
But she’s immobile.
Like the fucking Statue of Liberty. Like there is such a thing anymore.
The teenager stumbles back, falling onto the grassy sand where beach meets wilderness, eyes popping, a gurgling sound escaping his throat.
He must not have noticed the machete at first. He notices it now.
Sheila’s legs go taut. Spine straightens.
Movement along the shore makes her turn. Vacationers shift from water to parking lot, sniffing the air.
Back to the boy. Back to the machete.
Don’t you get it? I’m not the enemy. I’m the solution.