I tracked the Rougarou with stocking feet in bayou muck. The night overwhelmed all good sense. I continued on with the bravery only girlhood can grow: greedy fingers clutched cypress knees, wretchedly bent branches snagged my hair, then I waited for them to come- as silent and patient as the Huntress. Every child enjoys tales of magic. Whispered epics heard from the laps of grandparents old enough to know better, coaxing childhood innocence out into the night-along with every shadow and shade. I needed those stories. Needed monsters and magic and the wildness that sings in the blood of willful youth. I wanted it all. Wanted the Change. Wanted dagger-sharp claws, the speed of every wind—I was not afraid of the taste of flesh, the crunch of bones.
They appeared with snarling mouths smeared with crimson, mud matted fur. Their eyes flashed red-gold in the moonlight, just like Grand-mere promised. The wildness of them was shocking-unbroken and free, but I could feel their cruelty amongst the cypress. And as they dragged me out from hiding, teeth already sinking into the softness of me, all I could think was: this isn’t what I expected.
Raven J. Cole is a teacher, writer, and book nerd from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her poetry can be found in Black Napkin Press, Oyster River Pages, and at the bottom of most pots of gumbo. For more weird, find her here.