Finger Pointer Automatic

January 7th, 2014

The thing that I am most afraid of in the entire world, the one thing that could have altered my life so instantaneously and unapologetically, is this story.

We were all giddy and in a good mood. Trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s house usually meant time to goof off, play way too much Gameboy, and eat inordinate amounts of junk food on the road.

My brothers and I would usually get bored in the car – It was a 5 hour drive, why would we not? We played this game, making the shapes of guns with our fingers and ‘Pyow pyow’ noises, pretending like we were obliterating each other. We would usually do this until my dad sternly requested that we stop, or until we stopped at Wendy’s, where we would load up on unethically fast-food burgers. This was of course, unreasonable, because we were headed to Grandma and Grandpa’s, where it was impossible to be hungry.

I really don’t know what it is about grandparents that makes them feel so inherently obligated to feed everyone around them, even if everyone has just eaten a hearty meal. Don’t get me wrong – It’s great for a college kid who lives on peanut butter sandwiches during the semester. But even still, it is a humorous obligation to watch.

We arrived at Grandma and Grandpa’s right before dinner. We hugged them and they told us how we had all gotten taller and bigger and looked all grown up. We sat down, and they asked us how school was going and we told them about some of the projects and activities we were working on.

My brother started rambling in a collegiate tone of voice about the politics science classes he was taking. About this time, I discretely pulled out my pointer finger automatic and mouthed a violent ‘Pyow’ at my youngest brother. Nobody, of course, noticed but him. He dodged the invisible bullet, smiled, and pulled out his palm size pointer finger machine gun, blowing dozens of holes in me. That ended the conflict for now. He’d won. But at least I didn’t have to hear my other brother go on about political science classes.

Our parents sent us to unpack the car. We scrambled up the steps and to our room and started to unpack our things.

As we joked and unpacked and curiously studied Grandma and Grandpa’s collection of antique VHS’s, I noticed a pellet gun leaning against the wall. I had my own bb gun at home, which was rarely loaded, and when it was, it was only loaded outside.

I could think of no reason that a gun, in Grandma and Grandpa’s guest room, of all places, would be loaded. Who needed a finger automatic when you had a prop pellet gun?

I picked it up.

My brothers were still joking and studying the archaic selection of movies on the shelf, beside the old TV.

My finger tapped the trigger, fully expecting absolutely nothing to happen.

But I was wrong.

A pellet burst from the rifle and pierced through the wall, leaving a nice crack in the sheet rock.

My brothers looked at me, surprised, but chuckling.

I wanted to chuckle, and I wished I could brush it off. But in my mind, I constantly play out what I had thought to do next.

Having no idea that the gun was loaded, assuming that there was no reason it would be (I had never heard Grandpa talk about shooting a pellet gun), there was only one thing I was thinking of doing.

In my mind, it was a prop – it wasn’t a gun. And it wasn’t loaded. And my brother had sent dozens of invisible bullets into me all afternoon. It was part of the game we were playing, all afternoon.

I was so scared of what I could have done. All it would have taken was for me to be a little bit more energetic about being a part of the ‘shooting game’ we had been playing.

A little more carefree. A little more playful. That’s all it would have taken, and, god, I don’t even want to think about it.

There wouldn’t have been anything I could have done about it. One small press of a trigger, part of a game we thought we were playing, and I could have accidentally hurt my brother. Or blinded him. Or killed him. Depending on how playful I could have been at the moment.

That one moment would have ruined the rest of my life.

I don’t know what kept me from playing the game at that moment. We had been in a playful mood all day.

I was just incredibly lucky.

Because that one moment would have ruined the rest of my life.

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