I live in a place that is known to most as Small Town America. It is quiet here, and closed to most. Don’t like strangers much, don’t like outsiders. The lines here go way, way back. And although there’s some that spread the genes out, there’s plenty that don’t. It’s a small enough town that most people know one another, but big enough to get lost in if you want. People like it that way. The old lines, they stick close. The richer, grayer, duller of the pack. Those that don’t fit into the old lines’ thinking, well, they stick to background, like a fly to wallpaper. Less buzzing though, wouldn’t want to let those in power know you’re there.
Although I’m plenty new to this town, it appears I’m rich and boring enough to be welcomed into the communion with open arms and apple pies. I fit apparently, which worries me. The big names seem fond of me, a fondness that I neither share nor return. Names like Smith, Johnson, Jones, Brown. All very American names. The king of this town is a gray-haired capitalist known as Miller. Richest man in town, or so he claims. Apparently a big name in real estate that’s retired his fake smile and slimy tongue, and decided to drag his weak-chinned carcass to the countryside to waste away and die.
I don’t like him much.
Whatever, though. I will just have to tolerate him until that time he decides to kick the bucket, because I don’t really feel like leaving. I think I like it here, despite the people. If there weren’t as many people, I think this would be paradise. A nice, warm house. Being surrounded by trees and green. Nice, quiet, and remote. I hear you can go hunting near. I like that. The biggest reason for staying though, is a lady. She visits me sometimes, at night. I think she’s beautiful, but I am a scared, foolish woman and I don’t know what to say.
I met her some time ago, when my sleep was disturbed by a soft noise coming from below somewhere. It’s funny how that goes. It’s never the loud things that bother me, always the quiet things at the edge of hearing. They pique my interest too much to ignore. So I woke up and followed the sound to its source. I was anxious, so with Colt in hand, I very quietly made my way down the stairs, across the living room and through the kitchen, to the back door of my house. The sound grew clearer as I grew closer and in the end I could identify it as sobbing.
Sobbing, such a disarming sound. I put my gun away, and quietly opened the door. There, on my back porch, sat a beautiful creature, tears streaming down her delicate features. Yet, for the rest there seemed to be little delicate about her. Her lack of clothes left little to speculation. She was sinewy and tall, with coarse red hair covering her legs. I drew closer, slightly awestruck by her beauty.
“Hello there,” I said.
“Who are you?”
She looked over her shoulder at me, clearly startled.
“Don’t worry. I don’t bite.”
“Really?” She asked, as if this was somehow odd.
Her voice was soft and fading.
She looked down at the ground, at some point in the earth beyond physical reach.
“The people of this town. They’re so…. monstrous. They do such horrid things, say such nasty things. I cannot be seen, I can’t ever be seen. When I am, they start to insult my hooves and imply such… nasty things about my horns. They call me unsightly, unnatural, unwomanly, yet somehow a seductress too. They come after me, sometimes with guns, sometimes with clubs.”
She folded her hands across her knees and rested her forehead head on her arms.
“I feel so ugly. I don’t know. I wish I was small. I was I had feet like everyone else. To be able to wear pants like a normal person, not having to worry about fur or knees that bend backwards. I hate this thing that I am.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
I did not know what to say really.
“Do you… want a hug?”
She just looked at me weirdly for a moment, before giving a careful nod. I held her there. She was shivering.
“Sshhh, now. You poor thing. I’m so sorry. You’re cold and lonely in the dark. I don’t know what to say that might help, but I can, at least for a night, offer you the hospitality of my house if you want to.”
She seemed dumbstruck.
“Nobody’s ever done that before. I don’t know.”
“Only if you want to.”
She was silent for a moment.
“Yes,” She said. “I’d like that.”
I led her inside and showed her the kitchen, the living room, the couch, which she immediately crashed on. I got a blanket from the closet and tucked her in. I didn’t linger long. I didn’t want to linger. I didn’t know exactly what to do with these feelings I had. They seemed scary and unfamiliar.
So I did what I always do when I’m feeling odd.
I went to bed.
By morning, she was gone, but I see her still, from time to time.