This is a reprint of one of my most popular stories, a fun little mystery for October. Enjoy!
Memorie is in a cozy pace, propped up with pillows and notebook, herbal tea and the most affectionate of her three cats at her right hip on the sofa next to her. She has arrived at this place finally after decades of effort and conflict. Now she celebrates being slower and more careful. She has the time for it now.
It is a hot night for mid October. She sits in the darkness of her living room under a small circle of lamplight, the sliding glass door to the backyard open behind her. The other two cats sit in front of the screen, enjoying the night air. There is no breeze yet, and the TV meteorologists have predicted more heat for the coming week. Memorie is happy to be retired, to have no place she needs to go. She jots lines of poetry in her notebook, images of green, life underwater, the verdant kelp-like hair of river maidens swirling up toward the surface. Memorie lives on the flood plain, beautiful but scary, yes—but that’s why she wants to be there.
Suddenly the two cats at the open doorway charge toward the couch where Memorie is sitting, the anxious scraping of their glossy long claws frustrating their progress over hard wooden floors like cartoon characters who can’t get traction, but in a split second they are leaping hard and awkward over her shoulder onto the coffee table. Magazines, papers, pens, cook books, bowls of chocolates and red flame grapes, everything sliding and flying as all three cats are on the run, their tiny feet usually light, now heavy and thumping like crazy on the green Chinese rug in the green light, green air and water. They escape down the hallway. Memorie leaps up to shut the door, unaware of what has scared them, but trusting it is some thing, some unknown monster or man or raccoon possum skunk bat hawk turkey vulture, or a man, a prowler, a man. She grabs the door handle and begins to pull, to slide its bulk along its dusty track. Now she sees it in the reflection of street lamp on cloud shadow, the glow of amber eyes, a coyote, large and gaunt and hesitant near the pond. Is it wandering off? Yes, please leave. But it raises its head and their eyes—do their eyes meet? No—she looks away, pulls the door closed. But he is upon her, just beyond the screen and glass, young and tall, sandy haired and hollowed cheeks, the animal has morphed into a human. His right palm is pressed against the door. He is starting to cry. Memorie feels hypnotized. “You are she!” he whispers, and she snaps out of her reverie. He is a coyote again, darting across the yard.
She pulls the curtain across the glass, horrified, unbelieving, doubting her vision. The room is green and stuffy. The cats are stalking back into the room, ears back, pupils big as copper pennies. They gather round her protectively. She herds them back to the couch, and they all settle into the pillows. “He recognized me,” she tells them.
Read more stories like this one in Wild Imaginings, a collection of flash fiction and short essays, available for free download when you fill at the form at your right.
Photo by Priss Enri at Unsplash.