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Zoey is awake one night watching a story about a string of burglaries on the news. The next day she orders herself a boomerang. It arrives in a cardboard box with illustrated instructions on how to throw it properly, and Zoey immediately feels safer.
Zoey goes to the park at lunch with her friend, Shana, and practices throwing it against around a tree, hoping it will return. It bounces off the bark and lands in the grass near a disinterested bulldog who lets out a perturbed bark.
“Why a boomerang?” Shana asks one day while they’re walking in the park for lunch. The question catches Zoey off guard, and her grip slips. Shana ducks. The boomerang narrowly misses her ear.
“You know these used to be weapons?” Zoey says, holding out her hand and gesturing for Shana to pass her the angled stick.
“This used to be a weapon?” Shana asks, handing it to her friend.
“In Aboriginal Australia,” Zoey says.
Shauna shakes her head. “So, you bought one because?”
“Self-defence,” Zoey says, taking aim at the tree again. “And at least this won’t run out of ammunition.”
“Neither do knives,” Shana says.
The night before she ordered the boomerang Zoey lay in bed alone, anxious about if she’d locked her apartment door. She didn’t use to have this anxiety about living alone, but the evening news had gotten under her skin.
She made a mental list of the weapons available to her. She didn’t have a baseball bat or a fireplace poker. Guns meant time and training, and she wasn’t sure she had the stomach to use one. Her lease did not allow her to keep a dog.
She thought about things that might leave a mark if you put it in a sock and swung it. For a few days, she slept with a dry bar of soap in a sock under her pillow. She invented scenarios where she’d wake up and swing the apparatus at an assailant’s stomach.
Then she ran out of soap and had to dismantle her weapon.
Three months ago, Zoey had the news on while she made dinner. The anchor talked about an airstrike on a village in a corner of the world no one cared about. The night, Zoey stared at the ceiling in the dark and imagined the missiles sailing through the sky. She imagined the contrails in the sky and the ash their ordnance would leave behind. She imagined the photos of the wailing people in the rubble.
She wondered how many people died during a dream, believing they were safe with a line of defence in reach. She wondered if they ever imagined waking to the squealing sound of a missile entering the atmosphere.
Her boomerang would be useless against weapons from the sky.