“Like Feather, Like Bone” by Kristi DeMeester
Caitlin hears someone shuffling around under her porch, and she discovers a grubby little girl crouched deep within the shadows. The child is tearing into a dead bird with her teeth eating the creature piece by piece. Caitlin wants to help the clearly starving girl, but there is something so disconcerting about the barbaric little one. The girl knows Caitlin’s name. The girl knows the name of Caitlin’s husband who has left her. And the girl knows the name of Caitlin’s baby boy who has died. Maybe this odd little girl is the answer Caitlin has been searching for.
About the Author
Kristi DeMeester received her M.A. in Creative Writing from Kennesaw State University in 2011. Since then, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Black Static, Apex Magazine, Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volumes 1 and 3, and others. Her debut novel, Beneath, is forthcoming from Word Horde in spring 2017. In her spare time, she alternates between telling people how to pronounce her last name and how to spell her first.
There is a grimy little girl hiding under Caitlin’s porch munching on the carcass of a bird. Caitlin wants to ignore her, but the sound of bones snapping is too much. She crawls under the porch cautiously approaching the girl and tells her she shouldn’t be eating the bird. The girl says, “I want wings. Wings the color of the sky.” Caitlin asks for her name, and the girl tells her she has no name. However, she knows Caitlin’s name. Part of Caitlin wants to help the child, but she is a truly unnerving sight tearing into the dead bird with her baby teeth. Caitlin asks where her mother is, and the girl tells her that her mother is in under the water just like Jacob.
“I haven’t said his name in six months.” Caitlin had not mentioned her son once since Colin had left her. He had ranted about her insensitivity and distance. He thought he had been hurting just as deeply as she was. She was glad when he left. He would never understand since he hadn’t been the one to find their son’s body. The little girl speaks pulling her from her memories asking if she too wants to fly. Caitlin lies down in the dirt next to the child while the girl plucks the feathers from her dead bird. She places the feathers all over Caitlin’s body. Another bird flies under the porch, and the girl gently grabs the animal snapping its tiny neck.
She offers the bird to Caitlin. Lifting the back of her shirt, the girl shows Caitlin the little bumps protruding from her back. “Tiny feathers beginning to sprout.” The sight entices Caitlin. Maybe she too wants these wings. She takes the bird the girl is offering her and bites into the warm little body.