These Acts of Almost Violence

Gabby Vachon

Living in Florida is like always having a foot on your chest, the hard corner of the heel in the soft muscle of the heart. 

It’s nasty hot, but it’s my inability to breathe that keeps me here, unable to run. 

Leaving the house is my delusional purpose, and yet everyday I fail to do so, because its nice and cold in here, and out there, out there anything can happen, and I know that it will. As my husband comes and goes, I sit in the living room letting the IVF injections pulse through me like bruised promises.

Today, I look out from my window to see an older woman walk by, she is sweating. Her leathery skin ripples at the drip off her temples. I do not know what I will look like when I am old, only that there’s nothing I can do to stop it, except the one thing even she cannot avoid.

The older woman walks slowly away from my home, and turns her head sharply to look at something that zoomed by, something I cannot see, not yet. There is a low hum you can feel through the air, like an airplane passing through, but there is nothing in the sky, only wet heat forming waves in the cloudless blue.

But I see it, I see it now, it is a drone, one of those toy drones you see advertised on the internet, for children. It beats around my mailbox, and zooms past the older woman, who cannot possibly know what it is. She hunches down, feeling under attack. I want to tell her it’s ok, its just a toy, but she runs away, in her backless sandals, in the oppressive heat, she ran. I look for the drone, and wonder what it is like to conjure miracles, by way of awe, by way of fear. 

The drone zooms around a bit more, before getting snagged in some dry bushes. It falls to the ground like a dead family pet, it seems no one else but me sees this. There is quiet in the street, my eyes blink slowly to avoid missing anything important.

Finally, a teenager appears to pick it up. He is dressed in black, tall and skinny.

He picks up the drone, and when he thinks no one is looking, runs back to his home, a couple houses away. I wonder why he is not in school, but perhaps for the same reason I am not at work. Florida is a place to be beat down, and I have had enough of the beat.

These acts of almost violence delight me.

Everyday since, I watch him fly the drone around the few homes that separate us. I do not think he knows I exist, and I don’t mention him to my husband when he comes home from the office. I just watch the drone swirl in the air, terrorizing everyone who walks by. These acts of almost violence delight me. It sometimes loses power, slams into a car door, and the teenager has to go pick it up. I watch his parents’ car come and go from the driveway, but he never seems to be coming and going anywhere, he is stuck in space and time, like me.

I never see the older woman anymore, just the drone, and its low buzzing sound, its drill like flight, a bird with no home.

One day the drone falls for what seems to be no reasons. It just gives in, plummets to earth and hits the ground with the softest thud, a groundless whisper.

No one comes to get it, not for many minutes. I stay watching it, not realizing I am holding my breath, stiff deep in my lungs, not realizing I want it to get back up in the air so bad, for me, please for me. My hands wrapped around an invisible object, the thumb and index rounded into the curvature of a neck.

But it stays there, in the artificial grass. The teenager does not come get it.

I stay up all night, watching the stars and the moon circle the drone, but it does not circle them.

I finally fall asleep on the floor, my head resting on the window sill, and when I wake up in a panic, it is still there. I do not want to whimper, but I do, against my will, against everything I’ve been taught about loving an amoral god. I do not want it to melt, as the sun rises and the Florida air crushes everything in its path, so I go outside, in my pajamas, with no shoes on, and collect the thing. I hold it in my arms like a dream. No one sees me, I don’t think, I can only see the drone, its clever little arms, its tiny little motor. 

I put it back where I found it, tenderly. 

Nothing happens to me, or it, the days go on, and their unbearable heat, as I stay cool inside my home, watching the sun siphon everything from everyone else. I am content.

My husband comes home early, as I am washing my clothes, and tells me a great tragic thing has happened. A young boy, just 14, committed a horrible crime at his school. Several children did not come home to their parents, he says, and I would know that if I had turned on the news. But I had been watching the drone lay low on the ground, convinced nothing could go wrong.

I felt my stomach lurch as he tells me he lived just a couple homes from here.

They suspect gang activity, he says.

He wouldn’t, not him, I say to my husband, but he does not hear me.

I look out to my front yard, to see the drone laying there, sleeping.

That night I tuck myself in, and tell my husband the name of the boy who died.

The murderer, you mean, He says brazenly.

I make up his name, of course, telling his story in verse and not in prose.

And how do you know him, he asks, suspiciously. 

I do not answer, and smile, the drone outside getting beat by the wet Florida air, for me, for all of us, like the martyr we never asked for.

I cry in my pillow, angry at the sun for coming up the next day, and angry at myself for finally letting it slip into me, as I step outside on freshly cut grass. I stare at the drone, and it stares at me.

I keep walking further and further into the street, a delusional purpose I’ve allowed myself to pursue, in search of another small miracle.


Vachon Headshot 

Gabby Vachon is a writer from Montreal, Canada. She has been recently published in Blue Earth Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, carte blanche, and Lunch Ticket. She won 2nd place in the Smartish Pace Beullah Rose Poetry Prize. Gabby holds an Honors English Literature B.A. from Concordia University and lives with her beloved husband, Justin, and puppy, Lola.