Alice slew me. I fell like the universe from the back of a pickup truck. Big, loud thud. Picked myself up, dusted off, tried to figure out how to make myself worthy of her appetite. She stood alone at the concert, hair pulled back, a fluffy scarf hiding the skin of her upper chest, the neckline dipping like a curtsy. She held herself like an osprey, watchful, eyes darting after minnows. The other choristers gave her wide berth. She looked around at the others, smiled at nothing in particular, stared out the window. Her elbows lifted, settled, testing the air. I may have been wrong. Did I see her rise, oh-so slightly, from the floor? Delicate, modest, predacious. Unattended, like a child at the edge of a busy street. I stood by the snack table, holding wine in plastic, and looked down for a crudite. When I looked up, she had appeared at my elbow. I turned in panic, asked if she would marry me. She giggled. She blushed. She said “yes.” Does that ever happen, anywhere? What a drug, to inspire such hunger. In two weeks, we were setting up house, me moving her boxes in, her wrapping her arms around me and chewing on my ear. She stood in the back row of the choir at practice. I sat in the pews, rapt. From within the blended voices, a screech. Who sang like that? The other singers remained calm, but their eyes darted this way and that, urgent, like mice beneath Alice’s weighted perch. Again, the wild call. The director ignored it, perhaps hoping denial would serve as defense. Almost in reproof, Alice raised her arms, swept them down and soared from her position in the choir to my side, hovering a bit, her feathery fingers brushing my cheeks. She set talons to my shoulder. She dipped her head, opened her jaws, took my ear in the hook of her bill. I clutched my hands in a prayer of gratitude as she peeled the skin from my skull.
Stuart Watson wrote for newspapers in Anchorage, Seattle and Portland. His writing is in yolk.literary, Barzakh, Two Hawks Quarterly, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Bloom, Fewer than 500, Mystery Tribune, Bending Genres, Flash Boulevard, Revolution John, Montana Mouthful, Sledgehammer Lit, Five South, The Writing Disorder, Grey Sparrow Journal, Reckon Review and Pulp Modern Flash. He lives in Oregon, with his wife and their amazing dog.