The Hunger

Oct 01  |  SL Kretschmer

I crouch in the shadows, silent and still. A full moon blazes; its golden glow casts a myriad of shades across the detritus of fallen leaves and foliage. I lean into the rough bark of a towering silky oak, salivation dripping down my chin. My heart beats wildly as I hear the whistling of a familiar tune edging closer. It is almost time.

My mind swirls with vivid memories. I shake my head, trying to chase them away. It usually only occurs on my idle days, this melancholia, between the full moons when I languish, caught in a hellish existence I loathe. I look to the heavens, staring at the smudging of grey-black clouds hovering above a canopy of entwined limbs, and recall my previous life. I remember when the air surrounding me was not penetrated by a vile miasma but saturated with a delicate perfume reminiscent of floribunda roses with heart-shaped apricot petals. When I was but a humble girl, my life was effortless. Simple pleasures were what I yearned for – caring for those I loved, ensuring their happiness.

For more years than I wish to remember, I have cursed the day I ventured into the woodland to search for wild berries. I had wanted to surprise my beloved grandmother with a blackberry pie. It was unseasonably warm, the air thick as honey, as I weaved through lemon-scented gums, stringy barks, and she-oaks. My fingers-stained purple from the inky berries I had discovered; my basket filled with lusciousness. It was only as the forest’s shades intensified to a deep mauve that I realized much time had passed in my search, and the night was falling quickly. I heard a crack, a fallen branch snapping underfoot. My heart raced as I quickened my steps. A foul stench had filled the air, and as silver beams filtered through the canopy above me, a creature so grotesque that I cannot fathom I am now a mirror image raced at me from a thicket of bushes. I had no time to react before it was upon me, sinking razor-sharp teeth into my arm. Indeed, it would have killed me had it not been scared off by a crack of lightning in the distance. Since that day, I have howled to the gods to free me from this nightmare. But now I know, after the years have come and gone, there is no use pining for what was. Now there is only one thing I crave – one thing that satiates my desires.

I hear the whistling, louder now. I wait until the leaves close to me crunch underfoot before I leap.

“OOOhh!! Don’t do that, Red! You gave me such a scare.”

I am sufficiently chastened.

“Sorry, Granny,” I mumble.

Granny reaches up and pats my head.

“That’s alright, dear. Here,” Granny says, pulling back the cloth covering a woven basket, “I made your favourite.”

My snout twitches as the smell of dozens of freshly baked Pierogis assaults my senses. I grab a handful, sinking my fangs into their soft and doughy goodness, rich beef gravy trickling down my jowls. Granny offers a weak smile, and I study her intently. She seems to be aging more quickly now, her movements slower, her eyes becoming milky. And I know soon, there will be a month when Granny doesn’t come. And I know that she fears, as do I, what I will then need to do to quell my full moon desires.

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