By Mariah Daley
They come to me at sunrise with a gift. In their hooded capes they come. Their sandaled feet step carefully. With long branches smoothed by their hands they seek solid footing. They fear my hunger. I stab at them with bristly reeds; I suck at their soles. If I had the limbs to do so, I would grasp their ankles, drag them below the surface and tangle them in roots and weeds. I would fill their lungs with mire.
They intone a wordless ritual. A woman steps to the edge where mud gives way to watery muck. The others surround her, humming, watching, offering. She sheds her cape, removes her gown with trembling fingers, and lays them, folded, nearby. The men covet her with their eyes. She shivers, kneels so close to the edge that my waters lick at her, tasting her salty fear.
One man steps toward her. Much is contained in the narrowing of his eyes: dread, excitement, determination. He does what cannot be undone with a quick blade, a flick that opens her neck. Her red life slicks across my face as she stumbles forward. I devour this gift and am sated.
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Mariah Daley is a New England native. She now lives and writes in the Texas hill country. Her short stories have appeared in Eclectic Flash.Mariah Daley
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