I had just stepped into the street when I felt myself getting yanked back
thought someone was trying to save me from getting hit by a car but no
the kid I’d been talking to for the past block
was trying to steal my purse. I grabbed the strap
threw my weight into it
tossed the 20-something onto the ice where he almost fell
before running off.
“You shouldn’t be so friendly with strangers,”
my husband said when I joined him on the other side of the street.
“You might get hurt next time.”
When we got home, I ordered a set of knives
all different sizes, to wear around my neck and shove in my pocket
because next time, I’d be the one on the offensive
I’d cut the hell out of the person trying to steal my purse
send them to the hospital
or at least make them easy to identify.
When the knives came in the mail, I practiced how I’d carry them
wore one around my neck for a week just to get the feel of it
practiced drawing it quickly out of its sheath, made stabbing motions
I would be prepared.
After a while, though, I started worrying about the person
who might try to rob me, wondered what would happen
if I accidentally killed them, some kid my son’s age
slit their wrist and let them bleed to death
put out an eye and blinded them for life.
“I just won’t talk to strangers anymore,”
I promised my husband, without mentioning all the knives
I’d been hiding in my purse, wearing as jewelry
slipping into my pockets whenever we left the house.
“I’ll just be super unfriendly, and it won’t be a problem.”
Holly Day’s writing has recently appeared in Analog SF, The Hong Kong Review, and Appalachian Journal, and her hobbies include kicking and screaming at vending machines.