The smell of fallen apples made her nose twitch. They would be sweet and juicy and restore her energy, if she could just sneak over to them without being seen. A full moon lit up the sky, but the ground was covered in fallen leaves and dry grass, so her silky brownness would blend right in. She just had to remember to get to the shadows and stay very still.
Staying still would be easy. She was so tired. The last batch of bunnies, squealing and squirming hungry mouths to feed, had finally gone. Three hopped into the neighboring farm, and the runt had been grabbed by the barn cat. Babies. Each time she failed to outrun the bucks she found herself making a nest. Compelled by some mysterious force she cuddled and cared for them as best she could, while they sucked the life from her. Now that winter was coming, she’d have some respite.
She knew from last year that winter would be a cold and hungry time. No flowers and no grass, and in a few short weeks no more fallen apples either, as decay would claim them. A race to the barn would mean crumbs of feed from the cow, but also dashing past the barn cat. She was a huge, feral monster with no kittens to care for, just a duty to guard the barn from mice and rats, or any creature who might pilfer hay or grain.
In a flash of movement and pounding heartbeats, she made it to a dark spot under the huge apple tree. She began to munch away, feeling her teeth tear through the apple skin to the sugary flesh inside. In the distance, an owl hooted, and she crouched close to the ground for a lifetime of seconds. Then she began gleefully chewing her treat again, and relaxed.
As the coyote crunched its teeth through her bones, she remembered last Halloween. She’d been in her kitchen sipping hyssop tea mixed with a drop of her blood, and wished under the dark moon, “Make me a natural at dealing with stress.”
Karen Southall Watts is teaching, writing, and reinventing her life. Her flash fiction and poetry have been featured at Fairfield Scribes, Free Flash Fiction, The Drabble, Sledgehammer Lit, 101Words, Soren Lit and The Chamber Magazine. She is also the author of several business books and articles. Karen is a 2021 Pushcart nominee.