Once a month, my friend and fellow writer, Lisa DiDio, and I will be doing a flash fiction exchange on our blogs. It will be a piece of fiction based on the same title - we'll both post both stories - one on the 2nd and the other on the 4th Wednesday of the month. This is the first story of the series.
Urban Buffalo Redux (Kate's story)
They manifest, as if by magic, out of the fog. The overnight rain has turned their heavy bodies into chandeliers, sparkling droplets reflecting the sun that suddenly bursts through the grey mist.
I slam on the brakes, missing the lead animal by less than a foot. He – obviously and fully a male and just as obviously the leader – turns his head toward the car, his eyes not angry at our near collision, but dark and solemn, as if he is sizing me up. I respond by rolling down my window, turning the car off and waiting.
If you knew me, you would be surprised – no, shocked – by my lack of fear. My friends have called me Fraidy-cat for so long that it’s all anyone calls me anymore. I think they’ve forgotten my real name.
Catherine Margaret James. Once Cat for short, now Fraidy-cat to all.
But I’m not scared this morning, I’m fascinated, maybe even hypnotized. It’s the eyes. He looks at me as if he knows me, knows me better than any of my friends or family, better than I know myself. And he looks at me as if he’s interested in me, maybe even proud of me for standing my ground.
At least that’s what I tell myself. It’s what I want to believe.
Because I need to make a connection with this creature, this intensely male creature, because there’s something between us, something more than a human-animal encounter. It feels as if we’re connecting on some cosmic level.
And if I think my friends would be shocked by my lack of fear, I shiver in delight when I think of how astonished they would be at my use of the word cosmic. They would tell you that Fraidy-cat is the most non-spiritual person any of them know, that I don’t believe in Mother Nature, in God, in Allah or even in the generic higher power endorsed by twelve step programs.
They would tell you that the only things I believe in are those I can see and feel and touch. They believe that, not because I am a scientist (I am the farthest thing from it), but because I have the soul of a scientist – for me, if it can’t be quantified, it isn’t real.
I have five senses, they insist, and that’s it. Sight. Hearing. Touch. Taste. Smell. And so I don’t love. Can’t love.
Up until this morning, I would have agreed with them.
But looking up past his bulky body to his weighty head and into his beautiful brown eyes, all my reservations about the unseen and the unknown are vanquished. I see in those eyes the man I have always wanted to meet.
We stare at each other for endless moments while I contemplate a revised future. I imagine a story line that becomes part of a series of novels that began with Dracula and Frankenstein, tales where non-human creatures are loved by all-too-human women.
But in our story, the ending will be different.
The creature will not have to be killed, the love will be forever and will live outside the pages of a book. Ours will be the epic love story I have always – unknown even to myself – craved.
It isn’t until he vanishes – like magic – back into the fog that I do what I should have done in the first place. I get out of the car and I sit on the hood.