KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Micro-Fiction: 500 words

Bless the Sniper

by Anniken Davenport

Faith maneuvered the Honda into a space on Lafayette Square, ignoring the yellow paint on the curb, knowing the meter maids didn’t enforce parking restrictions on Sundays. She twisted her neck to get a view of the baby in her hot pink coat and matching hat. She was asleep, her head at that angle that only infants with their bones still flexible can manage. Kevin sat silent in the passenger seat, eyes ahead, black crew cut fresh and precise. She noticed some gray around the temples and was going to mention it, then left it unsaid. These days, anything she said provoked him and she wasn’t in the mood for it—not today, not when the baby was going to be baptized and all her friends would be sitting in the pews, watching.

She turned the engine off and opened the door.

“Could you get the baby?” she asked.

He glanced over at her. “Did you say something?”

“Could you please get Hope out of her car seat? I have her diaper bag.”

He swung the door open and eased out. Silently, he opened the back door and extracted Hope from the baby seat. She raised her head momentarily, groggily, before settling against Kevin’s shoulder.

Faith walked around the back of the car. She noticed someone had scratched the bumper sticker she had placed on the rear window back when Kevin was first deployed. “God Bless Our Soldiers” it read, “Especially Our Snipers.” The last three words were blacked out with a permanent marker. She shrugged her shoulders. At least he was back. Shell-shocked, they said. Give him time. Three tours too many.

A shot of guilt surged through her.

They crossed the street and walked up the wide steps of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist with its twin spires—the same stairs the two of them had descended, Kevin in his dress blues and she in white lace, to the sound of trumpets two years ago. She reached for Kevin’s free hand and he let her take it. Up they went, to the open doors, Kevin’s stare still fixed forward even as his other hand cupped Hope’s bottom.

They settled into the front pew, by the baptismal font. Before long, Father Kilpatrick motioned for them to come forward.

The priest took Hope and began the old incantation. “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” his voice echoed. Someone dropped a Bible. It hit the stone floor with a crack. As Faith turned to the sound’s source, Kevin grabbed the baby from the priest and dropped to the floor, his upper body shielding her.

That night, after putting the baby to sleep and waiting for Kevin to doze off in the ratty recliner in the den, Faith took a razor from his shaving kit. Slowly, meticulously, she sliced the bumper sticker into neat strips that she peeled off, one by one, leaving nothing but the sticky residue behind.

—From the author’s in-progress collection of short stories based on bumper stickers she saw from her window facing Lafayette Square in Savannah, where she was living in the basement of Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home

Anniken Davenport
Issue 3, Spring 2015

holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University with a dual concentration in fiction and nonfiction. She abhors the lie that is postmodernism. Explore her work at:

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

51 Bad Short Stories, the blog in which Davenport documents her testing of Ray Bradbury’s assertion that one cannot write 52 bad short stories in a row (2015)

An Evening with Ray Bradbury, Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea in 2001, for which Bradbury was the keynote speaker; early in his speech (at minute 2:55), he said:

“The problem with novels is that you can spend a whole year writing one and it might not turn out well because you haven’t learned to write yet. But the best hygiene for beginning writers or intermediate writers is to write a hell of a lot of short stories. If you can write one short story a week—it doesn’t matter what the quality is to start—but at least you’re practicing and at the end of the year you have 52 short stories, and I defy you to write 52 bad ones. Can’t be done, it can’t be done...”

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