Marksman

Art by Abby Murphy

Ahema Gaisie

Celia wakes with a start when her phone rings. She sighs heavily as she grabs her phone and checks the text message from her boss. It was 2:03 a.m., and it was her turn to do a night job this week. 

“On a Tuesday? Damn it.”

Nadia shifts in their bed, awoken by the sudden vibration.

“Night job again?” She stretches and rubs her eyes. “These aren’t good for you.”

Celia smiles and pecks Nadia softly on the cheek. “Don’t worry. I’m sure this one is quick.” After grabbing her phone, she hops out of bed, slips on a hoodie and some jeans, and walks slowly to the kitchen, grabbing a ready-made canister of coffee. While she attempts to sleep, she often stays awake late into the night, and jobs like this ensure she runs on empty. She takes a swig, grabs her gun from its designated chest in her closet, and walks out of her apartment building. 

Soon, a familiar black van pulls up, and the driver puts a smile on Celia’s face. After the van stops, a tall Black man steps out of the car, laughing. He’s handsome, if a bit rough around the edges, and he looks exhausted from travel.

“Curtis!” She laughs and runs to the van to embrace him. “You piece of crap, where have you been?” 

Even though he’s physically drained, Curtis wraps his arms around hers and smiles. “A long way from here.” He gestures to the van, opening the passenger side door for her. “I’ll tell you about it on our way.”


Celia breaks out in laughter, holding her sides as Curtis drives. 

“A royal couple?” She looks at him, absolutely astonished. 

“Yep, trust me. That is not going to end well for the royal family from what I’ve heard.” He smiles, bags heavy under his eyes. “London is nice. You should go some time.” 

She scoffs at his suggestion. “On what they pay me? Give me a few decades.” 

He shushes her and points up quickly, smirking slyly at her. “Don’t let them hear you.” 

“I can’t believe you travelled that far for a job.”

He smiles and yawns. “The sacrifices we make.” Soon, he pulls into the parking lot of a small but lively nightclub in the middle of town. “Gold or lead tonight?”

She pulls a few bullets out of the glove compartment and loads the pistol on her side with two bullets. “Gold this time,” she smiles, shaking the gun in her hand, “always more fun.” 

Curtis smiles. “Not taking any extra?”

Celia looks at the pistol and shrugs casually as she opens the door. “Of course not. I never miss.”

She flings the door shut casually as she struts into the busy nightclub. She walks in and notices how much louder the bar is on the inside; music blasts from speakers on the ceiling, and everywhere people are drinking, dancing, and trying to go home with someone. Her mark is typical: twenty-something, male, lost as she was at that age. She finally sees him at a table, talking to a blonde who seems to be hanging onto his every word. She sighs heavily, cocks the pistol, and points it at his head.

A loud bang erupts from the pistol as the gold bullet lands in his skull. Fortunately for her, only she can hear it, and fortunately for him, he can’t feel it. Quickly, she repeats the process on the girl he’s talking to. After a few more words, they stare at each other, smiling softly, examining every inch of each others’ faces. He caresses her pale cheek, and she leans into his hand, keeping her eyes on him. They kiss, and it seems as if all the noise in the building is silenced, and they own it. 

Celia grins and walks out of the club, unnoticed by the sea of people dancing. As Curtis notices her walking up to the van, he unlocks the door. 

“How was it?” he says. She smiles, remembering the first time she felt what they were feeling.

“Easy.”

Curtis chortles softly. “Good. Next job, you may not be so lucky.”

“Hey, Curt?” she says. The man looks at her attentively. “You know, I’ve been doing this a long time since I was twenty. I’m not the same as I was back in those days. I’m not as lost as I used to be,” she pauses for a bit and smiles at him, “I actually have someone to go to that’ll stay.” Curtis grins. “I’m just not sure if I want to keep doing this. Making these decisions for people.”

Curtis looks at her and sighs. “If that’s what you want, that’s what you want, but your spot as a Cupid is too important for them to pass up. Plus,” he points at her gun, “these people make their own choices.” He shrugs, then turns the car back on. “You want to get a drink?”

Celia looks at the time: 3:05. “Sure, why not?”

Summary: Celia is an expert marksman. This morning is just business as usual.

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