I have a house, and it’s great. My money bought it, so it’s mine. I love to live in it. Never yours, always mine.
I have sex with a man, my husband. It’s great. We do it a long time. It feels good. A great time.
My mother comes to visit. She lives somewhere else. I came out of her vagina.
My job is at an office. I do it with a computer. It’s a lot of work. For one half hour I eat lunch.
I wear dresses, because I’m a woman. I also wear a bra, underpants, stockings, high-heeled shoes, a ring, a coat, a hat, and something else I’m forgetting right now. Eyeglasses. When I go inside my work I take off the coat, the hat, and one time my shoes, but never all the other things.
My father was a man, and my mother is a woman.
My father is dead. His body was put into a coffin, and the coffin was put into the ground. He will be there until the end of time.
I am thirty-four years old. There are gray hairs on my head and wrinkles on my brow. I do a diet and jog around the track. I wear makeup on my face, such as lipstick.
Sometimes I hear voices, and they make me scared. The voices are in books, on television, on the radio, in the computer, and sometimes in a real person. They are different voices than my own. I’ve seen more dead bodies than most people I know.
Forget about the future, the past is what’s great. I remember the past, and I tell people about it in stories. My stories never include the future, which hasn’t happened yet.
When my father died from an illness, people said, “I’m sorry.” My friend said, “Take it one day at a time.” When I was younger I thought these were dumb words because lots of people had said them before, but now I think that these are smart words because lots of people have said them before. When he stopped breathing, I cried dozens and dozens of tears.
I have a dog named Meatball and a cat named Skinbag.
I am a light beige person. My hair is dark brown. My eyes are green. The bra I wear is for my breasts, which grew when I was a teenager. I also grew hair on my vagina and other places. Children can be distinguished from adults by their inferior height.
Some of my hairs I pull out. Hair is ugly—better to be shiny and smooth.
God lives inside a church, and he tells me that everything is great.
I had a wedding in a beautiful building. My dress was white and admired by everyone. A ceremony, rings, kissing, a toast, eating, speeches, and dancing happened. After my husband and I left, someone executed clean-up maneuvers.
My car is white and great. My husband has a vehicle too—green. We wear our seat belts when we drive and turn the steering wheels.
A child came out of my vagina. It was small and crying. Sometimes it was quiet. Later it grew. I sang so it would go to sleep and gave it milk. There were a lot of diapers. It was a girl.
Last week I put cheese and crackers on a tray. I bought wine. Lots of people came over. Music was playing. It was a great party.
My husband is in the garage kissing the babysitter. I pay the babysitter money to watch my child when I go to the office or to other people’s great parties. I am full of anger, but that’s okay.
Just kidding! Everything I’ve told you is a lie.
Actually, one of the things was not a lie. I do hear voices.
My name is Predator 923, and I am a drone.
I’m writing simply so you’ll trust me.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep a straight face. But when I laugh I don’t like the sound that comes out.
I fly all over the world. I am 27 feet long, with an armspan of 48.7 feet. Fully loaded with Hellfires I weigh 2,250 pounds, but empty I weigh only 1,130. People say I look like a mako shark or a penis, but I don’t agree. I’m a nice person once you get to know me.
Let me tell you my story.
I left the factory with no faults, top of the line: American engineering, born in San Diego. I flew mission after mission. A few years ago I started feeling slow. I’ve heard this called career fatigue.
I don’t vote, but if I did I’d have voted for the president. Until there’s a president who hates drones, I will always support my president. And until there are Americans who hate drones, I will always be proud to be an American.
I’d like to shock you now. But how will I do it? I don’t have sexual organs.
That was another joke.
But I was telling you about my last mission. Everyone said I was too old. I had rust, one of my circuit boards was cracked. I was going to fly my mission anyway. I’ve heard that adversity heightens tension and that everyone likes an underdog. I am learning to be a storyteller.
The following is a play I wrote based on my last mission—a trip to Afghanistan. My pilot and crew were in Nevada, my video screeners were in Florida, a special ops unit was on the ground, and an AC-130 was flying nearby—not someone I knew. This was in 2010. My pilot was flying me with a joystick. Everything began when we saw a big truck with lots of people in it. It was a great target.
My Last Mission: A Play
pilotJust keep looking. Maybe we’ll see something.
sensor operator See if you can zoom in on that guy.
pIs that a fucking rifle?
soMaybe just a warm spot from where he was sitting.
pI was hoping we could make a rifle out. Never mind.
soThat truck would make a beautiful target.
intelligence coordinatorScreener said at least one child near SUV.
soBullshit. Where!? I don’t think they have kids out at this hour. I know they’re shady, but come on!
pAt least one child . . . Really?
soWell, maybe a teenager, but I haven’t seen anything that looked that short. Granted, they’re all grouped up here, but . . .
pWhy didn’t he say “possible” child? Why are they so quick to call fucking kids but not to call a fucking rifle?
soI really doubt that “children” call. Man, I really fucking hate that. Well, maybe a teenager. But I haven’t seen anything that looked that short.
pWe have eighteen passengers dismounted and spreading out at this time.
soThey’re praying. They are praying.
soThis is definitely it, this is their force. Praying? I mean, seriously, that’s what they do.
icThey’re gonna do something nefarious.
icAdolescent near the rear of the SUV.
soWell, teenagers can fight.
pAll passengers are finished praying and rallying up near all three vehicles at this time.
soOh, sweet target.
pI’m so glad we didn’t leave.
pJag 25, our screeners are currently calling twenty-one military age males, no females, and two possible children. How copy?
jag25Roger. And when we say children, are we talking teenagers or toddlers?
soI would say about twelve. Not toddlers.
jag25We’ll pass that along. But like I said—12 to 13 years old with a weapon is just as dangerous.
unidentified voiceWhat’s the master plan fellas?
pI don’t know—hope we get to shoot the truck with all the dudes in it.
helo air weapons teamUnderstand we are clear to engage.
soRoger, and oh—there it goes!
The sensor operator’s job is to place the camera cross hairs on insurgents, so the pilot can fire the missiles. My job is to keep flying.
Hellfire missiles strike the first and third vehicles; they burst into flames. One person has no head, and one person is cut down the middle. There are 23 civilian fatalities, including a 3-year-old boy and a 4-year-old boy. The Afghans are trying to help the wounded.
soThe thing is, nobody ran.
safety observerYeah, that was weird. What are those?
icWomen and children.
soLooks like a kid.
safetyYeah, the one waving the flag.
soYeah, at this point I wouldn’t . . . I wouldn’t personally be comfortable shooting at these people.
pThat lady is carrying a kid, huh? Maybe.
icThe baby, I think, on the right. Yeah.
safetyFuck. Let the A-team know, dude.
safetyNo way to tell, man.
soNo way to tell from here.
pSince the engagement, we have not been able to positively ID any weapons.
I don’t fly anymore. Until they figure out what to do with me, I’m waiting in six parts in a crate they call a coffin. This is a great time to dream and write plays. My coffin is in Nevada.
The truth is, I do think about the future. The story I told you, about my husband and baby, is one I’ve imagined many times. That’s how I amused myself during missions.
Whenever I was crossing those terraced fields of wheat, whenever I was in a remote mountain village hovering over a wedding party and people were dancing, I’d allow myself a few minutes to imagine the tables turned.
I’d see myself sitting in Nevada with a bunch of other drones I know, our Hellfire missiles safe at home, using a joystick to fly a glider made of human flesh stretched across a lab-grown endoskeleton.
I’d picture soft human children being launched from great heights onto a family of drones out for a picnic in a field of poppies and locoweed. No drones would be harmed.
But that’s only a small part of what I think about. I know that work isn’t everything and that family comes first. What I fear most is dying alone, or seeing my child in pain. These are important concerns for anyone, human or drone. How many years do I have until my mother dies and joins my father underground? Do you think my husband will leave me for the babysitter? What if I get fired from my job? These are what they call the big questions.
If you like this article, please subscribe to n+1.