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After dinner, after Dad finally quit asking him about how his school day went and how his studies were going, and after Dad finally retired to his bedroom for the night, Peter could inspect the gun once again. He rubbed a towel over the backpack, carefully mopping up the moisture before removing the gun.

Outside, the storm had settled into a steady drizzle. Occasionally thunder grumbled in the distance.

The icon Dante had pressed looked like an open box, upside down over a squiggle. Peter activated it, then grunted in surprise. In the screen, the furniture, house and all the vegetation vanished. It was if he was sitting in a warm, dry bubble during a rain storm. Light from within the house showed water sheeting off the roof to the invisible gutters. The streetlights were gone, but their globes of light still hung above the street like Earth-bound suns.

Peter swung the gun around. A cat on the other side of his bedroom wall sidled along the house, keeping out of the rain. Two birds, nestled side by side, hung suspended in the air where the big Maple that grew by his house stood. He panned the gun to reveal more. Twenty feet away, his father sat in his chair in his bedroom, reading. But there was no chair and no bedroom no book, and his Dad on the screen wasn’t wearing clothes. The gun seemed to remove everything that wasn’t landscape or living creature from the view. Who would need an app that did that?

Peter upped the magnification and saw into Christy Sanders’ house, his next door neighbor. Her parents floated in what must have been their living room, bathed by a television’s bluish and inconstant light. He didn’t magnify them. There are some things the human eye is not intended to see, he thought. He was pretty sure that a pair of naked fifty-year-olds would burn his eyeballs out.

Christy herself lay on her bed, back to him. She’d sung the lead in the spring musical last year as a freshman. She was the sophomore pom-pom team captain, and a shoo-in for to be a part of Homecoming royalty in a couple weeks. She was also the only girl in school who Peter could talk to confidently. After all, she was just the neighbor girl. He’d watched her wrestling the trash cans to the alley on trash day, and he’d seen her changing the oil in her car (not very successfully, if the amount of oil on her shirt was an indication). They’d known each other for as long as Peter had known Dante, but sometime after they turned ten, they quit hanging out. She made other friends, and Peter and Dante became inseparable.

Peter didn’t think of the implications of magnifying her image in time. She too was naked, partly silhouetted by her reading light that shone through her hair like a golden nimbus, and for a moment the way her bare hip curved into the small of her back stunned him.

He poked his finger at the screen twice to turn the gun off.

Later, after rehiding the duffle bag and gun in the back of his closet, under layers of old clothes and toys and school projects, he tried to sleep, but in the dark he kept seeing Christy on her bed. I’m not a creeper, he thought. I didn’t spy on her on purpose. Still, when he closed his eyes, he saw how she rested her bare foot on her calf, how her leg bent gracefully, how in the invisible house on the invisible bed, covered with an invisible blanket, she’d looked like a mythical figure floating. Something out of Greek mythology. She belonged in Olympus.

I’m objectifying! he thought. I’m not thinking about her as a person!

When he fell asleep, though, after what seemed like hours, he didn’t dream of Christy. What he dreamed instead were of footprints in the mud, and hosts of angry men searching for the bag in his closet. In the dream, they circled his house, then closed in. Nothing is truly lost, he thought. Everything belongs to somebody.

He woke before dawn and couldn’t fall back to sleep. After a while, he unburied the duffle bag and took the gun out again, looked in the direction of Christy’s house, but he didn’t turn it on. He thought about it though.

As the sun rose, Peter slipped through the back door, duffle bag in hand, and put the gun in the trunk of the 1958 Ford Fairlane Dad had been restoring for the last half-dozen years. He couldn’t think of a safer place to hide it.

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