let the girl go (a melinda may story)
The Cavalry once killed twenty men with a single pistol, they say.
Or maybe it was fifty.
The Cavalry once killed a hundred men, they say, on other days, around other campfires, these future agents of SHIELD, these gossipy children. On horseback, they tell the freshmen, and snicker. A hundred men.
The number trips off the tongue. The methods vary, the numbers, and they all trip off the tongue easily—what is twenty dead villains? A hundred? A good day’s work. We’re the heroes, after all.
Fifty, twenty, a hundred—they’re all just syllables. All just sizes of victories, not a careful count of gasping faces.
The Cavalry killed twenty—fifty—a hundred men, and Melinda May saw the light go out of each of them.
As a child, Melinda would steal the plastic lid off the kitchen trash can, mount it on one arm, and charge out into the backyard to save the world with her plastic shield.