Not sure what’s more embarrassing, that at fourteen
I still lusted for stuffed animals or that mum’s target
at the claw machine was way better than mine. Precise
as threading a needle, she’d push the steel arm straight
into the heart of the stuffed pit, wait, sipping Pepsi,
hand on hip, sure as a cowboy. Once, her single turn
brought back not one but two animals — a spotted panther
and a long-tailed squirrel. Unlike their real-life avatars,
the two never escaped my sight. But she did.
44 then gone. God plucks some of us away randomly,
the priest said. Walking home that night, her wins tucked
under my arm, I trotted ahead, curious and jealous, asked —
how is your aim so good? She shrugged, caught up, tightening
her grip around my wrist. As if I was the one prize she wanted.
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