There was going to be a meteor shower, or rather, there was a meteor shower happening if she could find a place with low light and no clouds from which to view it. She thought of her own backyard, of the deck that would keep her up off the cold and potentially soggy ground, the first bulbs starting to come up thinking it was spring when in fact the human calendar had just celebrated Christmas.
The deck would do nicely, the cold air would keep her bottle of beer at drinking temperature, a futon mattress dragged clumsily down the hallway and out the back door would keep her off the cold and wet wood of the deck, and her sleeping bag, the one she got for backpacking through Europe that ended up being way too hot, would be perfect in this situation.
She considered putting on more clothes, but she was exhausted and more than a little drunk, and that damn sleeping bag would have her sweating in ten minutes anyway, so she stayed in her oversize t-shirt, grabbed her beer, and danced her way out to the little bed she’d created. Just the two feet from her door to the bed were enough to leave her breathless with the cold, a pain in her chest, her toes completely numb. Teeth chattering she fumbled her way into the bag, zipping it all the way up and around so she wore it like a pea pod, just her face sticking out.
She couldn’t feel her nose, but her eyelids suddenly existed when she’d never noticed them before. Can your eyelids freeze? she wondered. If she didn’t blink her eyes enough would the wet surface of her eyeballs freeze? She was most certainly drunk. She giggled to herself and then lay down on her back. Drunk as she was she’d remembered to turn the house lights off, there were no lights outside to ruin her experience.
Waiting for her eyes to adjust to the dark she thought about all the times she’d been to those planetarium things. They were so cool. The way it got dark and then you were instantly outside at night. Learning where all the planets and constellations would be that time of year. Hearing some of the myths that went along with the constellations. She always said it was the very best date anyone could ever take someone on, and she didn’t understand why so few people had ever heard of it. Or done it. Except that one time in school for that one fieldtrip.
Sigh. Adults need more fieldtrips, she thought to herself. It’s like we just stop learning and we’re okay with that. She sighed again.
The Milky Way was now visible and stunningly bright. She’d never seen it before in the city. Grown up her whole life believing it was something you could only see from a telescope, not realizing you could literally lift your face to the heavens, wait a few minutes for your eyes to come around, and then woosh. There it was. A literal spill of white across the sky. Whoever’ed named it was a genius.
Now that her eyes had adjusted she could also see a few constellations. No shooting stars though. No meteors. The trouble with these things is they always have a peak that’s at some god awful time of day like 2am. How can you possibly get enough sleep if you stay up until after 2am in order to view a meteor shower? And the idea of going to sleep only to have an alarm wake you after a few hours, possibly interrupting your REM, just so you could stumble outside, not fully awake, and certainly not appreciative of being woken, and possibly falling back asleep instead of seeing the things anyway? Crazy talk.
There it was!
Not particularly spectacular, she almost wasn’t even sure she’d really seen it. Had it been a meteor or a trick of her peripherals. She snuggled down in the bag a bit, even though the only part of her that remained cold was her toes and her face. Time to pay better attention.
There! Another one. Ha!
There was something so satisfying about it. So storybook. She made a wish. Why not?
Another! Oh and this one was truly something. This one traveled the full length of her sight line before halting, growing very large, and exploding, much like a firework. She realized her mouth was open. Shutting it, then opening it again thinking she’d take a drink of her beer, then shutting it again. If she hadn’t lied down she could have arranged her beer between her knees and her chin so she could tip her body back for a sip, rather than pulling her arm and hand out of the bag every time she wanted a drink. She decided this was a rather ingenious method and decided perhaps she wasn’t quite so drunk after all. She also decided against it because it would require her to get up.
It wasn’t long before she’d counted at least fifteen meteors. How long had she been out here? It couldn’t have been an hour yet. This was really rather amazing, and beautiful. She considered staying outside all night, falling asleep under the shooting stars, how poetic. And then she heard the coyotes yipping. They were hunting nearby, probably hoping for a dog from one of the neighborhoods nearby to come out. These coyotes were smart.
She’d watched the coyotes send out a female to start yipping, getting the attention of the humans and the dogs of a particular house. The rest of the pack would try to stay out of sight as they split up, circling around to sabotage positions. She’d watched as one neighbor, not understanding that there were several coyotes about and not just the one female, let his big dog out to chase her off. Big dogs, you always think they’re safe. It took less than ten minutes for the canines to dash in, overpower the dog, and rip out its throat. The owner, who’d stood there the whole time screaming was shocked, devastated. It’d taken her forever to get that image out of her head, but she’d finally succeeded. Now it was back.
She watched a few more meteors cross the sky. Listened as the call of the coyote changed from a yapping to a yipping, to a symphony of howls. They’d caught something. She decided to go back inside. Last thing she needed was to turn up in the local paper: Drunken Resident Eaten Alive By Coyotes While Meteor Shower Watches.
Leaving the sleeping bag around her, she pulled her arm out, grabbed her beer, put a thumb over the opening and hopped back into the house. There was no need to turn on the lights, she could see clearly. She hopped into the living room and disrobed the bag setting the bottle on the coffee table. She was sweaty and would have to take shower before bed. There was nothing worse than trying to sleep in clean sheets when one wasn’t clean oneself.
She debated leaving the futon mattress outside until the next day, but realized it would end up ten times as heavy if it got soaked in dew. Stepping back outside she was instantly freezing, the sweat on her body drying slowly and painfully. She grabbed the mattress and pulled, and pulled, and pulled. She’d never be any use in helping to dispose of a body, she had zero upper body strength. It took her better than ten minutes to move the mattress three feet, but it was enough to close the door with the mattress inside. In the way, certainly, but better dealt with later, and dry.
She traipsed back into the living room, grabbed the bottle off the table, and wandered back to the bathroom. Turning the hot water up and shrugging out of her shirt, she jumped in, placing the bottle on the window ledge. Letting the hot water warm her back, she took idle sips of the perfectly cold beer as she washed, rinsed, and decided against the repeat. Did people really do that? It always seemed like a pretty great marketing scheme, make people use twice as much shampoo as necessary. She let the warm water beat down on her a bit longer, finished the beer, and then shut everything off, grabbing her towel from the rack and stepping out onto the bathmat.
She realized as she was drying her hair that she’d just taken a shower in the dark. And it had been wonderful. So soothing, so natural. She wondered if maybe she should experiment with not using lights for a few weeks, a month maybe. That would be fascinating. Would her eyesight during the day also improve? Would other senses dull as her eyesight took over?
Hanging the towel back on the rack she took the empty bottle to the kitchen, rinsed it under the tap, there were few things in this world as disgusting as the smell of stale beer in bottles waiting to be recycled, and then set the bottle upside down in the sink to drain and dry. As she was turning to go to bed she saw motion outside the kitchen window. She stopped and looked. Had it been a meteor in the sky? There it was again. Not a meteor, no.
It was eyes. They were there, in front of her house, loping around, getting into position. She saw the eyes throw the light from the sliver of moon or perhaps the meteors, as the head turned her way. She knew as she looked into those eyes that there were six other sets of eyes watching her house, even if she couldn’t see them.
The yipping began.
Her skin crawled, prickled, the hair on her neck beginning to stand on end. She knew they weren’t actually hunting her, that they were hoping she had some small beloved pet to send out, but in all absence of such a creature she felt hunted. Listening to the coyote yip, she sometimes sounded just like a small child. A two-year-old maybe. Crying out. She’d hear the yip and instinctively for a split second want to go check and make sure the kid was okay, before realizing it was just the coyote yipping.
How long would they yip? Couldn’t they smell that she had no pets to send their way? What would they do if she went out there shining a light in their eyes, hollering at them, throwing a stone or shooting the BB gun she’d purchased on a whim cause it was pink and she’d wanted to encourage the manufacturer to think broader. What would they do then?
There was a flash of something, a momentary silence, and then the sound of yipping and yapping all converging into a victorious howl. She couldn’t see what they’d caught but it must have been a rabbit or a fox, maybe a bobcat. Something relatively small and very fast, but not fast enough. The howl reverberated down in her diaphragm and before she realized it she was howling too. The coyotes didn’t stop although they surely heard her strange harmonizing join in. For a few minutes they all just howled. And then as quickly as it began it stopped.
The coyotes all scattered. Vanished. As if they’d never been there.
She wondered if there’d be hair and blood and bits of bone in her yard in the morning. Token memorabilia of the hunt. She realized her heart was racing and she felt completely sober. She also realized she was cold again. The shower that had warmed her back up had long since worn off, if she’d gotten into bed immediately perhaps she’d have stood a chance of staying warm, getting the sheets around her warm enough before falling asleep in the little nest.
She ran to bed lightly on her toes, making little swish noises as her thighs touched. She quite literally jumped into bed, tumbling the covers all around her in a mound, in an imitation of a coyote pupping den. She felt wild and alive, and slightly ridiculous. She fell asleep and dreamed of eyes shooting through the sky, howling in intensity.
~~~That’s one hour~~~