The owl sees everything.
It watches when the young man brings his son into the barn on his shoulders, introduces him to each animal by name.
It regards the expression on the boy’s face when he gets old enough to come in here and hide from the other children who don’t understand why he’s so quiet.
It turns its head as the adolescent counts how many times he strokes the horse’s bare back.
Its unblinking eyes take in the vacant expression of the silent man when he comes into the stable and falls to his knees sobbing.
The owl knows.
When someone started using Jenny’s printer at work, she put out a simple memo telling them to stop. Since it was on the network, the ID was just a string of numbers, and she didn’t want to get HR involved. They weren’t using much anyway.
When she came in the next morning, there was a single sheet paper with one line of text: I didn’t know how else to say hello.
At the end of her shift, she responded and printed: Maybe we could have lunch instead?
The following day, another page: Printers aren’t great at lunch dates, I’ve found.
“I’m trying to decide if I want to kill you tonight.”
“Oh yeah?” John asked, sipping his Merlot, licking his lips to keep them from staining purple. “How would you do it?”
“Maybe a blow to the head–”
“This isn’t the movies, Paula. You’d need something more than that.”
Her blue eyes froze on him, juices pooling under her rare steak. “You didn’t let me finish. That would be to disorient you. Then I’d strangle you.”
“With your hands…?”
If that wasn’t an invitation, he didn’t know what was. “I’ll get the check then,” he finally declared.
Each cupcake required an hour of work to decorate. While other bakeries made slapdash, hurried attempts to get their confections presentable and on the shelves for sale, these were works of art. Gold flakes sat perfectly atop white chocolate pools, while candied cherries created the perfect centerpiece for a buttercream basin. Doilies provided the delicate stenciling for powdered sugar snowflakes atop dark chocolate peaks.
When the bakery was robbed, the safe sat untouched, and the only damage was to the locks on the glasses cases. The owners could only forgive the bandits. Wherever they were, they must have been happy.
She had gone to the store to pick out a gift for a baby shower, and when she returned home, the house was in flames. She couldn’t tear her eyes away, the smoke rolling around her flip-flopped feet, the fire casting orange light against the yoga pants she was only going to wear out that one time.
She got back into the car and took stock of her belongings: her wallet. A tube of chapstick. Her keys. A scratchpad. A pen. A soft teddy bear, which she buckled into the passenger seat.
“Okay,” she said as she started driving again.
When Holly tried the unmarked door at the end of the hallway in her building, it opened like it had been expecting her. She carefully placed the pile of papers in her arms on the floor, copies of a report that meant nothing to her.
A wind blew in excitedly, traveling up her pinstripe skirt, and a honeysuckle scent tickled her nose. Sunlight caressed her sandaled toes, even though she had walked through the rain not long ago that morning. Birds sang softly. Someone called her name.
Holly slipped inside, the reports forgotten, the stack tipped over onto the carpet.
Anybody who tries to say that Creation is easy is a damn liar.
First, you need the foundations: air, water, earth. Animals come very last. Otherwise – woops – Death. You hadn’t even plotted out what that was supposed to look like!
You have to think it through, right? Because with enough time, it’s not like it’s all going to stay like that. You shape and mold and craft and then, oh shit, heavenly bodies.
Lastly, the hard part: giving it away. You hold your breath and hope they like it. Don’t break it.
Don’t watch. Walk away.
She ran her hand along the alligator’s ridged spine, her fingers catching on the edges of natural armor. The salty brine smell hung in the air, a comforting brackish blanket over the pier. The cuts of meat splashed as she dropped them in front of the brute, and she shrieked with delight as it devoured everything in quick, violent gulps.
Suddenly, her stomach tightened, and her entire body curled in on itself. The hand sticky with raw juice shot to her pregnant belly. “I should go,” she said.
But she lingered, bargaining with the coming terror as long as possible.