Beau Hunter

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Lacey hated hunting. She could not find the sport in stalking a much weaker animal through the woods and killing it. The idea had always seemed foul and one-sided. The animals didn't have weapons or any kind of defense. Just once she'd like to hear about a hunter getting blown away by a grenade launcher strapped to the back of a moose, or a baby seal gnawing through someone's ankle. She grinned at the idea. She'd always liked animals more than people.

Shivering in this deer stand with her current boyfriend left her feeling like the worst kind of liar. Not only was she physically uncomfortable, but ethically uncomfortable too. Lacey leaned against the tree and sank to the floor. She removed her gloves just to see if her hands had turned blue. Satisfied with the stippled pink color of her skin, she ran her fingers over the smooth metal of the rifle. She loved how the oil from her fingertips left iridescent smudges on its surface. It felt heavy and menacing in her grip. It was a foreign feeling, one that made her stomach turn.

"Do you think we're going to see anything today?" she asked.

"Shh," Toby replied with his back to her.

 "What? Now we can't talk?"

 "Come on, Lace. You'll scare them away."

Lacey smiled. "Surely, the sound of my voice is not so annoying that it could drive woodland creatures from their natural habitat."

 "Babe," he chastised.

"Why do we have to be out here when it's so cold? I mean, don't you think the deer are going to stay somewhere warmer?"

 "Where? Like the Holiday Inn?" She snorted and slid her gloves back into place, stretching and curling her fingers.

"I thought you wanted to do this," Toby said. 

Lacey glanced towards him just in time to see the white vapor of his words curl into tiny clouds over his head before disappearing.

"But, it's so cold," she whined.

Toby threw an annoyed look over his shoulder and Lacey raised her hands in surrender. She couldn't believe she'd done it again. Since gaining the attention of her first boyfriend in seventh grade, she'd always done this–take an interest in what they like and pretend to like it too. She had made an art of submerging herself in other's passions. There was Mike and waterskiing, Lance and karate, Neil was into anime and now Toby the animal killer.

She wasn't sure what dysfunction existed in her personality that made her want to please these men so much. Lacey was an independent girl, an educated girl, a girl who knew that this behavior was abnormal. She didn't care. She went as far as joining associations, prolonged internet research, taking private lessons and recently, acquiring a gun license. 

Lacey never told Toby her true feelings on hunting. She never shared with him how the feel of the gun in her hands made her nauseous. He was clueless, trapped in a deer stand with the anti-hunter, the saint-like savior of all furry beasts.

"I'm hungry," she whispered.

"There's a PowerBar in your pocket," Toby replied.

His eyes scanned the area and he let out an annoyed huff. Lacey pulled the bar from her pocket and cringed at the crinkling sound made by the paper. She fumbled with the bar for a minute before realizing she'd have to take her gloves off to get it open. Tugging at each finger and then sliding the gloves off, she felt victorious when the foil wrapper finally tore open. Lacey closed her eyes and slid the food into her mouth, pretending it was bacon double cheeseburger. She hummed in delight. When she opened her eyes, she found Toby kneeling in front of her, his eyes angry.

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