Yvette Flis has published under different names, each hers, but gave up spare vowels when she took up snow drifts and dark winds. She reads to remember and writes to forget. Her recent works have be seen in The Linnets Wings, and under the names Yvette Managan and Yvette Wielhouwer, in The Prose Poetry Project, Winamop, Every Day Fiction, , Open Magazine, Mason’s Road, Flashshot, Sporkpress, Eclecticflash, Killer Works, All Things Girl, Literal Translations, Polluto 6, Mirror Magazine, and Sinister Tales; and under Yve Wildflower inNefarious Ballerina.
Bird of Prey
Dawn arrived without its usual splendor, just a brightening of the sky. I should have taken that as a warning of the veil that was to be lowered, which would settle over everything and onto tomorrow. But I didn’t know. I just thought that we’d get a bit of rain.
And rain it did, slowly at first, single large drops that splattered against the roof of my car, and then in torrents, sheeting over everything and obscuring vision so that when I drove I looked out for momentary glimpses of the yellow and white lines that defined the sides of the pavement.
By the time I arrived at the cookout, I was ready for a drink. I made my way over to porch where Bob had set up the wet-bar. Sylvia sat on a folding chair set away from everyone else. Her lips stretched tightly over teeth that have bitten, and a mouth that has curled around sharp words. She nodded at me curtly. “Why are you here?” she asked. “Where’s Kenneth?”
“He should be here by now,” I answered. “I’m supposed to meet him.”
Sylvia scanned the yard. “I don’t see him.” Her eyes squinted.
“How are you?” I asked. She’d shrunk with recent widowhood. I hugged her and felt bones shove through the thin skin on her shoulders into my hands. They felt sharp as knives. I felt her intent on spreading buttery words or sibilant sounds that hinted of “Sh! Shshsh…” or “Things ‘er all right.” She didn’t answer, so I pulled away, mumbled something, stepped to the bar, and ordered a scotch, neat.
Sylvia turned her attentions to the men who’d gathered at the grill. “I see Ken now,” she said.
She’d bleached her hair as soon as her husband stopped breathing, and exchanged her tee shirts and shorts for low cut girlish tops and snug fitting bottoms that called for attention. She tattooed a large heart over her breast – red, with her husband’s name on it, and his birth and death dates, above and below.
“Anyone who wants me is gonna have to deal,” she said. Her mouth had stretched wide, exposing teeth and the pointed tip of her tongue.
I’d stood back, surprised and discomforted. I imagined myself in a similar situation. Would I look for a replacement so soon? I’d felt a scandal coming on way back then and as Sylvia stood near the grill, her head turned from side to side. Her gaze rolled over each man. Sometimes she sucked on a tooth, sometimes she drew on the Virginia Slim that dangled from her fingers, and I shuddered. My skin prickled and smells became more important. I knew how many breaths I took, heard a tiny squeak at the end of each of her inhalations, felt each wisp of wind and change in its direction – someone slammed a door down the street, across the road they’d started a fire. I wondered if that would grow to be out of control too.
I wanted to move aside the bottom of my shorts, lean my pubis forward, to pee on each tree and every cornerstone. I needed to mark my territory. My blood rose. I looked at Sylvia. “How would Melvin feel if he knew you were looking for a new man?”
“He wanted me to,” she had said. “He told me he didn’t want me to be alone.”
I thought I’d understood. Sylvia would hold her expectations too high, I decided. She’d hunt where there was no game, or where the prey was larger than her meager weapon.
Maybe that’s what she was doing, but where she hunted at the barbeque, where she laid her scarlet talons and her aging cleavage, was around my home, my friends, my territory, and we all squirmed.
Was she a woman pained by the loss of her husband as she claimed, or was she a vulture, shed of her tethers, who lurked and hunted and gave couples gooseflesh as she passed?
I watched her set her snare. Sylvia sidled over to Kenneth, came too close to him. She ran a finger up his sleeve, drew her face near his. Her mouth moved in words, secret ones, I knew, and as she stared deep into his eyes, Kenneth bolted.
He burst through the line she’d drawn around them and fled to my side. His face flushed. He told me she’d whispered, “You are what I want.” He met my eyes in honest distress and continued, “Please keep this between us.”
It is, Kenneth, between only us, and there it will stay. My word to you is gold, but I am still disturbed by what you’ve said – what she’s done, what she wants.
“I’m not the only one,” my husband said. “She’s gone after Bob and Lawrence too.”
Both are married men, and both are devoted to their own wives.
“She can go after Phillip.” I said. “He’d have her.”
“She doesn’t want him,” Kenneth replied. He searched my face. His eyes grew large. His mouth grew silent and I knew that Sylvia had heard him suggest the very same man.
Her traps are not large enough to catch him, I know that. I think.