Rain clouds hung over head on the cool Saturday night, when Isadora and Winifred Bosworth had the flat tire. Isadora, Izzy to those closest to her, pulled the car over and flung her head into the steering wheel covering it with the red curls that hung from her head.
She opened her door and reached one long leg from the car. Her skirt had crept up to her hip, showing a little too much leg.
“What's wrong?” Winnie retied her mousy-brown hair at the nape of her neck.
“We've got a flat.”
Winnie got out of the car without argument. She was a few pounds heavier and less graceful than her older sister. “What should I do?” She spoke over the roof of the car to Izzy, who had already crouched next to the tire.
“I'll need the jack and the tire iron.”
The burst tire had hit the car and scarred the paint job near the wheel well. Izzy grunted as she loosened it, then jacked the car up without speaking.
Winnie wanted to ask questions, but bit her tongue, certain that she didn't want to deal with an angry Izzy.
Winnie returned to the trunk and pulled the spare out. She was grateful that it wasn't full-sized, as she lifted it without trouble. She lowered the tire to the ground and rolled it toward her sister who was removing the last lug nut from the ruined tire.
“Izzy?” Winnie's voice broke through the sound of wind rushing through the trees.
She did not respond.
“Look up.” Winnie commanded her.
Izzy turned toward her sister, her brow was furrowed, her mouth a tight line across her face, “What?”
Winnie motioned toward the woods, Izzy turned. She stood; her once pink cheeks were pale and her jaw hung open.
“Who are you?” Izzy yelled without warning. “Get out of here!” A man stood at the edge of the woods, he stepped back into the shadows, seemingly in response to Izzy's shouting.
She watched, but the man stood still. “What are you, some kind of pervert?” Her voice wavered. “Leave!”
He stepped back further into the darkness. For a moment, Izzy thought was gone; but just as her head returned to the tire, he stepped toward the street.
She noticed that he was large, over six feet tall. She watched the man as he stepped toward the road.
He took three steps before it became clear to the girls that this was no man. Izzy ran her eyes from his head to his toes and was shocked to see that he was covered in long, stringy and orange hair – even his face.
He stood there, for several minutes, before reaching up and scratching his head.
Izzy circled around the front of the car. “Get in, Win.” Her voice was firm, but calm.
He took a step toward Izzy, who tried to ignore the smell off of the creature; it was a heavy stench, like rotting foliage mixed with wet dog. She reached her hand out to touch him, feeling no fear.
Her fingertips grazed his, which were dry and rough. As Winnie closed the car door, Izzy turned her head to give a disapproving look, as a stick broke in the woods, distracting her. She turned and saw the creature's returning his gaze from the forest behind him.
He looked at Izzy,his brow was furrowed, and stepped toward her, reaching his hand out.
His fingers grazed her cheek; Izzy remained still.
The creature let out a short grunt and pulled his hand back.
“You're not going to hurt me, are you?” Izzy knew he couldn't understand her. She couldn't take her eyes off of him, wanted to touch his hair, but only stared into his eyes. They were dark, serious, but gentle. She didn't want to look away.
Winnie began screaming from inside of the car. Izzy spun around, sending her hair over the creature's hand, tangling it around his rough fingers. He jerked, pulling her head backward making her scream.
Izzy raised her head, both she and the creature froze. She pulled the creature's fingers free from her long hair and turned back to the forest.
Winnie stopped screaming. Along the tree line were silhouettes of several other large creatures. The blackened body of each creature stood out along the edge of the forest.
Izzy took a few steps back, as she watched as the creature return to the forest.
She knelt to finish the tire and noticed the creature turn back toward her. She wondered if he was looking back on her, or scanning the forest across the road.
She finished the rest of the tire, uninterrupted, before returning everything to the trunk and climbing behind the wheel. Winnie had climbed over the seats and was waiting for Izzy, in silence.
Isadora started the car and took off down the road. Several hairy bodies lumbered into the street in the red glow of her tail lights, before walking back into the forest and disappearing into the darkness.
Sarah Scharnweber lives in Rockford Illinois. She has 2 cats and currently works at a nursing home for people with chronic mental illness. Contact Sarah.
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