A crash outside awakens you with a start. You lay in bed, heart racing as you strain to hear what it was.
The sound of falling trash cans, broken glass, and something else you can’t quite place sounds again from your backyard. It sounded like a voice.
Your nearest neighbors are a good few minutes away and not of an age that spelunking on your property at 2 am is in their wheelhouse. So with your heart in your throat, you retrieve your father’s old Ruger and the smooth, cool wood below your fingers fills you with courage. Downstairs, you quickly flip on the back floodlight and rip open the door, leading with the rifle. Quickly, you steady the rifle with both hands and call out into the dark, adding extra bass to your voice.
“Who the fuck’s out here?! I got a gun, so – so you better find your way the fuck off my property quick-like.”
You inwardly cringe at the tremble in your voice and the stereotypical, corny line that came to mind first. You turn toward the corner where you keep the trash cans, aiming the rifle, pulse pounding in your ears.
A tense beat before there was a small sound in reply, “Anon?” A female voice, shaky and raw. Familiar, but just on the edge of your memory. You know you should probably just threaten them off, whatever psycho would be out here now can’t have been up to any good. Then again, how would some random psycho know your name?
A heavy gulp.
“It’s me, Cheyenne. It’s – it’s been awhile, Anon,” came that same voice from the darker corner, lower than waist-height and two glowing orbs meet your eyes.
The voice is slurred and now that the wind shifts, even your human nose picks up the liquor and tobacco and weed. Your brain finally clicks the memory back into place, tucked away due to the pain that still tugged at your heart now and then. You remember Cheyenne, the granddaughter of the elderly native neighbors – a coyote. You had only known her for a summer, when she was “sent to the farm” so to speak for causing trouble, but the bond that you two had shared felt more powerful than any you had ever experienced. You thought she had felt the same. Sure, your parents were vehemently against you two spending time. Those flea-bags are no better than animals, Anon. You remember your father’s cutting words after you two were caught napping in the fields. You also remember her grandparents, strongly traditional, wanted her to be with another coyote, too. You’d never tell anyone, but she was your first – and only so far.
Then one day, she just disappeared. No contact. The neighbors wouldn’t even answer the door. The hurt and feelings came rushing back as one, entangled as the slim form of your once-sweetheart stepped into the light. She was thinner than before, scruffy and her fur messy. Her golden eyes, half-lidded and glazed over as they were hadn’t changed. You still got lost in them. Cheyenne wore a loose cut-off tee and denim shorts, now a bit messier than before from the fall in the cans.
The rifle lowered now, there was a tense moment of silence as she came closer. As her soft hand paw rested on your cheek. Closer up, she was still just as beautiful, but even around the fur you could see the sleepless nights in her eyes, her ears sagged under some unknown weight. Yet, when she touched you, she smiled. It was a shadow of the former smile that you remember, it somehow made her look sadder. Your heart twisted.
“I’ve missed you, anon.”