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Nephew 1 was a very solemn baby who stared a lot, and who could hardly be coaxed into a smile. Unlike his little brother, he’s tended to be a bit of a loner, so we were excited to hear he’d joined an after school team.

It’s an Airsoft team. Air. Soft. This harmless sounding team sport started in the ’70’s in Japan, tailor-made for fans of guns in a country that doesn’t have them. Airsoft moved from Japan to the UK – another non-gun country – and was meant to be about safely team-building, skills and sharpshooting. Nothing to do with real violence. Americans got hold of it in the 80’s, and… yeah. Nephew 1 was invited to play by a classmate whose father takes them both to run through the woods, scoping out other fathers and sons and shooting, keeping score, counting out loud the time you’re “dead.”

It’s “only a game.”

And yet….

afterward, we sat, silent
“it doesn’t matter
him learning to hold a gun,
if what he’s holding
in his skin is the target,”
my husband said, his gaze pained.

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