They were closer, now. Marie turned over on her bed and listened for them. She pulled her sheets up over her body and then threw them off again, letting them fall to a heap on the floor.
She got off her bed and walked over to the mirror. She stared at it for a while, looked down at her own body and decided it wouldn’t do to be naked. She opened her wardrobe and thumbed through her dresses, running her fingers – greasy and unwashed - over the soft fabrics.
She took a few out and laid them on the floor. They were soft to the touch, and all brightly coloured. They had not been Marie’s favourite, in life when she preferred simpler colours, bold statements in black and white, but now these floral dresses seemed appropriate.
Marie could hear the Coyotes now. She didn’t like the way their whines were overcome by the softer, sweeter cries that hung in the air. She wished their approach was somehow more measurable, and felt a strange nostalgia for the coming of a storm, where she could count the seconds between the thunder and the lightening, and guess at the distance. She couldn’t quite imagine coyotes mixed with lightening. Marie turned to the dresses on the floor and sorted through them.
The blue one, she decided, was too simple and too sad. The pink-and-green one was too childish – it reminded her of a children’s birthday party. The red one felt the sweetest, but Marie worried it might be too bright. She didn’t want to wear anything that might distract from her own features, which she had often been told were distinctive.
Marie eventually settled for the lilac dress she had bought two years earlier for a fairy themed fancy dress party. She had changed her mind about wearing it on the day, she remembered, and instead had gone for something tighter and simpler. She had been complimented on that.
Marie turned back to the mirror and squinted until she saw something. She put on a light peach lipstick that matched the lining of her dress, and a thin layer of foundation. She kept the eye makeup light and didn’t bother at all with her contact lenses. The Coyotes would come close enough to see.
Marie made her bed and lay down on top of the sheets. It was a warm still night – she was not cold. She tried to cross her arms over her chest as she had seen at Catholic funerals, but it felt uncomfortable. She put her arms by her sides, and set her mind to listening.
The Coyotes were certainly close now, within a few streets of Marie’s home, and at such close distance Marie thought the human crying was a little more piercing than the animal’s calls. This frustrated her. She didn’t want to be thinking about people when she died.
After around fifteen minutes Marie thought she could recognise the sounds of a family. The Callaghans, three doors across from her, were beautiful and polite, Mr Callaghan always sweeping away to office meetings and late night partied in his slick designer car, Mrs Callaghan always laughing and gasping, and styling her hair like some sort of movie star. Perhaps she had almost been one, at some point.
Marie did not think her neighbours’ screams belonged on the big screen, however. The woman’s were too low, and the man’s too high. Even the little boy – now school age – sounded wrong. He was too babyish, thought Marie a little sadly, he didn’t sound right for his age at all.
Marie sighed and comforted herself in the Coyotes’ proximity. She was sure she had only minutes left, and then they would come, then they would take her and it would all be done with.
She took several deep breaths, in and out, and tried to keep calm, tried to keep still. She sucked in her stomach and pushed out her breasts. She wanted to look appetising, somehow. She wasn’t quite sure what a Coyote saw as appetising.
She licked her lips, and waited. But nobody came.
The pack had moved on, scouring the streets for families to stake out, for game to hunt. An individual waiting patiently wasn’t worth the bother of coming indoors.
Marie was close to tears. She was sure their calls were growing further, as they grew deeper, once more taking dominance over the human weeping.
Marie sat up in her bed, readjusted her hair. She sighed and looked around, considered going to the window to see the carnage, or heading to the streets to track down a Coyote herself. But then –
Footsteps were padding their way up her staircase, heavy, and uncomfortable, unused to such narrow passages. Marie heard a yawn, and then she heard a growl, and then she heard a gentle, rasping sniff.
Coyote pushed at her door and it opened. He stared at her, smiling, his long tongue running over his teeth, hanging out the side of his mouth. Spit dribbled from his chin and fell into dark, grey droplets on Marie’s floor.
‘That’s going to stain the carpet,’ she thought.
Coyote pounced on her, ripping her dress and flesh in two. His golden jaws tore off her peach tinted lips, and he grabbed at her chin with his paw, lapping up the blood.
He liked the lilac colour – she had been right about that – and ripped away at it to get into Marie’s stomach. Coyote discarded the skin, and sucked up the fat, the meat, the muscle.
His head bobbed up and down against her, and his teeth flashed and gleamed. He sucked up her waters and swallowed her intestine whole. She was a good meal, and, caught behind the pack, he had been left hungry.
Coyote smiled again, and stared ahead, glanced at the heap of wrinkled dresses on the floor. He picked up Marie, and tossed her over his shoulder, her perfumed skin making him a pretty little coat, protection against the hot, hot sun.
Wearing his conquest, Coyote marched outside. He bent his knees and raced out after his pack, Marie’s unpainted fingernails clicking gently against his teeth.