Leaves fall in the expected manner, pitted and dry. She feels the heady mixture of low-quality coffee and cinnamon as it permeates her mind and bloodstream. A little treat after a well expected disaster.
There are days in this life that will make you want to bury yourself, to simply march into a forest somewhere and leave your clothes for crows to mangle.
This should not be Sloane’s first instinct whenever something bad happens, but not everyone is so charitable with the local wildlife.
It was the third time she’d had to walk home basically naked after the impulse to disrobe had overcome her mind and she started seeing things in a longer distance than usual.
Whether or not she was covered in bug bites or currently having the opposite of growing pains wasn’t important, but she’d stopped eating chocolate just to be safe.
Her last job interview had been a disaster, and as per usual it led to a mental episode and the quicker than usual theft of some poor stranger’s clothes.
Then the recriminations and the want to rethink her life.
That thought could have been fleeting but in all honesty it had just that little more to make it sensible. Why not just always go a little crazy?
Why bother with the stressful parts? When ‘this’ is really the music you dance to?
She still walked home as per usual but she had a plan now, and it was at least a little more doable. Instead of waiting for the world to crumble around her, she’d simply walk into the forest every month with provisions of a relevant function to her nature, and allow ‘nature’ to take its course.
Her clothing bill was much lower now.
As she disrobes for the third time that year, she knows she’d made the proper choice, and as she walks into the wilderness she finds only the comfort of the breeze as her body became one with the intentions of the trees.
As her recipient crows greeted her undisturbed by her presence, she watches their lives in the week of her visitation. Sloane would never have taken up birdwatching before this.
Naturally naked in the forest, eating whatever else made itself convenient.
Learning what kind of teeth she could have.
She stops near to her home some time later, a full week as she could schedule it now. There was little difference between it and a period in common parlance, but it gave her new life where once was constant dissatisfaction.
She sheds the skin the moon gave to her, and goes back inside in perfect awareness unlike that time before. Picking squirrel from her teeth, she reclaims her home stark and once uninhabited.
She knew the risks of leaving her home unattended.
The smell made deeper for its likely ordinary reflection, her home drenched in the smell of a relative stranger.
A visitor of ignorant thieving intention, she watches as this person made his way past her living area in the more common route- “What do you think you’re doing?” Sloane asks, staring down the remarkably smelly dolt.
“Why do you have so many bones?”
“I’m a fetishist. Can you leave now?” she asks, motioning her hand to the door, “I don’t know what kind of mess I left earlier, you might’ve tripped. I can make you trip again if you like?”
The Idjit decides to look her over in the moment she’s given him. “No, I’m tripping enough, thank you very much.” he focused on the door, realizing that this might not be a good time, “Bye I guess.”
“It’s really good of you to understand your position.” Sloane says, before correcting his decorum “Please bathe before intruding on other people’s homes. It’s part of being good company.”
“No, I prefer to make my own warnings. I think.”
“I suppose that’s one way to be.” The wannabe thief leaves confused and unremarkable. If Sloane had known before all this what she could do, she’d have chosen this years ago. If she’d known this one change from within would do so much to brighten her soul.
She hoped that young man would take a bath, but it was unlikely given that he knew about the bones. Sloane takes to accounting for what little she saw need to own, and found that he’d at the very least only touched everything in her home but took nothing.
Sloane goes about her business, washing her body, and checking her locks due to this rather stupid incident. She wasn’t really worried, she could simply add him to her collection if he came back.
When she wasn’t ‘going crazy’ she liked to smell like lavender, peaches and mint.
And she’d eat something dry for the first day when she was finally ‘home’, it was usually something noodle based, with any number of flavor packs.
Sometimes she went for oatmeal, since it matched the unlived-in cave-like atmosphere of her home. Sometimes she even left it to cool, just to feel like a real bear.
She wasn’t a werebear of course.
She was a werewolf. wif-wolf?
Wasn’t that the ‘proper’ portmanteaus?
Didn’t matter, sometimes she went to walk as herself for a while after dinner or breakfast. Or whatever you call the first meal after a molt. Snake keepers are probably aware.
In any case, she’s almost never scared now. It’s hard to be when she could and would eat a man to protect herself. Sloane couldn’t even say that as a double entendre before all this.
Truly there’s nothing as freeing as never talking to anyone who’d use facebook while on facebook.
She only dealt with people who she didn’t know were for sure lying about real debilitating illnesses for microscopic social validation.
Her mother was probably worried, but she never called the authorities when the neighbor dog bit Sloane so she could eat a bunion with mayonnaise.
She usually walks to get her groceries now, as it's as easy as anything after a week of eating small-rodents and rodent-like things. And someone’s cat that one time.
Goodness that was embarrassing.
After a day of recouping, she usually bought a rotisserie chicken to share with the crows, because they were good company and made her happy when she was naked in the woods.
In any case it was becoming the true first pleasure of her month.
“Hey, are you feeding those crows, crow?” a stranger asks, a non-sequitur.
She looks at the bag in her lap, the genuine branding and the middle-priced sticker unfettered by such a sequence of events, “It’s chicken. Why are you talking to me?”
“Ah well, I’m sure it’s fine. Not like crows can catch mad-cow disease.” he says in a neutral tone. She assumes he’s just being awkward for whatever reason.
Sloane pulls the ‘loin’ of the breast from the keel, “That would be pretty Hitchcock.” she says, contented with the statement.
“It’s a prion disease. It’s when proteins misfold and it makes mammals stop working right.” he says, like she’d missed the memo, or needed the PSA.
“Why are you talking to me?” Sloane asked, not quite interested anymore.
“It’s just interesting. Like kinda spooky.”
“I don’t know about that.” she pointed out, if it were that interesting there’d be more to say about it, “From what I understand the only spooky thing happening here is you talking to me. I’d offer you some chicken to feed to my crows, but I have an honest fear that you’d eat them later.”
“Well, I certainly wouldn’t be against it.” he said, which was when she decided he will only eat crow metaphorically.
“Yeah, I thought so. I’m gonna go bury the rest of this for later. Ta ta.” and she can almost feel his face fall as she walks into the forest. She was in fact going to bury the rest of the chicken, the bones at least, but only much later.
Her crows understood what she meant to do at this point. Sloane didn’t want to feed them in the presence of someone she didn’t trust, and so she led her sweet black birds deeper so that she could enjoy their eating in peace.
Sloane would feel more social later, she’d need to with her work. But she didn’t need to right now. And she could afford to go unliked by a stranger while she recuperated.
She feeds the crows as slowly as she’d meant to, and disregards the only slimly relevant man in the park. Sloane buries the bones after their meal, and leaves for home, ready for a new month, a new moon, and murder both necessary and not.