The rain dropped like pebbles tossed into a swimming hole. It offered up a quaint sound that Janie tucked around herself like a comforter. The porch where she stood watching the horizon was laid with dark, sodden planks. Buffeting gusts drove in the scent of scrubbed hay, and this enticed her into a grudging sense of appeasement. She glanced back through the window. It was unlit. No blurred outline of her father showed behind the thin summer curtains, no wisps of smoke. There were no pots banging about in the ancient kitchen, no faucet running. Understanding that the place was shuttered and locked, that Bill had not come out here after all, Janie debated whether to break open a window, try to jimmy the lock or just turn right around and drive home again. She thought she might wait for the rain to let up.
Why had she imagined Bill would come out here? Did she think he would have walked through two states? They had never been back, not since the day they left in his old Chevy, her shoulder dislocated from Daddy pulling on it, demanding she stay. The lace edging of her sleeve ripped and fraying over the long drive north. She now wore jeans and a cotton shirt, Keds. Expected to meet him here again, settle old scores, forgive and forget. She had not stopped to consider the heavy, unyieldingness of absence.
A noise like the wind and the rain but not of them made her whip around and what she had seen move stopped. Bright gray, its fur not the least matted by the wet, a coyote stood with his tail stiff, one paw shaking the rain off, his nose poking the air between them. Janie gasped, found she was unable to breathe in. Nor could she scream. The force of a too-long habit had removed her voice. There was no one to appeal to, no cover to run for. Anyway, Janie was the one holding the gun.
333 words for , including QUAINT (adjective) 3a : unusual or different in character or appearance : ODD b : pleasingly or strikingly old-fashioned or unfamiliar .
The title is taken from an article about coyotes on Kiawah Island in South Carolina: