"Orion’s Girl"

Cowley Student (Vol. 7: 2017)

A woman stands alone at the edge of a lake, looking up at the full moon through the bare tree limbs. Her strawberry blonde hair, slightly matted and sticky, whips around her delicate face in the harsh wind.  The sanctuary of the open lake on the uncharacteristically warm September night invites the women to take a plunge.  She strips down to her underwear, and dives right into the deep.

When she emerges from the depths of the black lake, her now platinum blonde hair is clean, yet stringy from her midnight swim.  She discards her ruined clothes in the water, just as she did with all of her previous problems from earlier in the night.  Stepping out onto the shore, the woman pulls out a spare dress from her bag, redresses, and goes back to quietly observing the clear night sky.

Orion the Hunter watches over the women in silent approval.  They are one and the same—hunters kill together.  The thrill of the chase creates a comradery unmatched by any other bond, and ruthlessness is its own reward.  The woman and Orion watch over the lake, unhindered by the chill creeping into the previously warm night.  Sirens scream in the distance, then fade away, like the dirt under the woman’s nails. Orion whispers wordlessly to the woman, wondering why she doesn’t flee at the approaching alarms.  Even the Great Hunter of the Night Sky is oblivious to the secrets of the woman’s seclusion. 

Lights shine through the shrubs of the lake, and the woman smiles.  Her teeth, mangled and crooked, gleam bright in the lights of approaching cars.  Despite the lack of lights and sirens, she knows who’s coming.  Orion warned her. The woman wonders how they worked out the location, but all is just as well. She reaches into her bag, pulling out her weapon and holding it behind her back.  As police approach, the woman simply stands, relaxed in spite of the multitude of firearms aimed to kill.  They scream commands, but the woman refuses to comply.  Orion tells her to concede-- he doesn’t wish to see a fellow hunter fall tonight.  She refuses.  The woman has her plans for how tonight will end.  She will join the stars tonight.

In a single sudden movement, the woman reveals the weapon from behind her back, and the police react on pure instinct.  They approach the bleeding woman lying on a bed of red sand.  She smiles as they realize her weapon was nothing but a ploy—the woman prefers to get her hands dirty, literally.    

Now, Orion smiles.  The woman’s plans are clear as the night to him now.  As the woman’s eyes close in her final moments, she smiles, then dies—finally to join her hunter in the night sky.