“Nerf guns are basically awesome,” the boy said. He sat on a park bench beside a stranger, an older woman who slouched and leaned back, legs sprawled in front of her. “I’m Perry.” He held a plastic gun toy longer than his arm.
“Mary,” the woman said, and they shook hands. The motion revealed puckered scar tissue under her armpit, visible above the seam of her sleeveless undershirt. Perry’s eyes widened. “What happened?”
“Doctors,” she said, and no more. Perry continued. “Yeah, so basically, this gun can shoot up to ten bullets before reloading, or you can use burst mode and shoot three at a time. See?” He swung the barrel toward her, and Mary reflexively shoved the business end away.
“Listen, kid,” she said.
“Kid, guns are dangerous. Have you ever seen a friend’s blood soaking into the sand? Ever felt three bullets punch through your armor’s weak spot and through a lung?” He shook his head. “Guns are fucking terrifying, kid, and I hope I never see one again, Nerf or not.” She got up. “Have a nice day.”
Half an hour later, a teenager stopped at the bench, trailed by her friends. “Hey, free Nerf gun!”