The Wedding Planners
We meet at the park every Thursday, though sometimes it’s hard to make it without one of our limbs falling off.
Rachel is early. The flies around her face are slowly eating the decomposing flesh around her nose. A crow has long ago removed her eye. She’s been in the same yellow sundress since the planning started, and it’s really quite filthy.
“Karmen, I see you have a new friend,” she greets me. I look to my left and sure enough a crow I don’t recognize is there, plucking at the sinewy muscle of my shoulder. It won’t be long until my whole arm falls off.
“Damn,” I mutter. It’s hard enough to plan a wedding with two hands, but if I just have the one…
We sit down together on our usual park bench. Nearby, a couple of teenagers glance our way. It takes them a second to recognize what we are. I see it the moment they do, and. it’s a look of pure horror in their eyes. Then they bolt, leaving their bikes in the dirt.
Rachel lets out a heavy sigh. “Just you wait. One day this will happen to them, too.”
I grunt in approval, but it comes out wet sounding.
We can see Francis coming from a mile away. She’s had it the worst of us: not only flies and crows, but vultures and even an eagle, once. Her head hangs on by a thread. The rest of her is very gray and pockets of her flesh are missing. She slumps down between us, putting her head in her hands.
Her pinkie finger falls to the ground.
“I’ll never get married to Eddie at this point,” she says. “Last night, his mom went over the seating chart with me. Apparently we didn’t put Aunt Louise in the right spot.”
I try to place an arm over her shoulder but it only flops around a little bit. It’s hard to get any of our body parts to move exactly how we want them.
We’re just about to start talking flower arrangements when Rachel’s fiancé, Richard, walks by.
“Oh how nice, he got a haircut,” says Rachel.
I look Richard up and down, but I don’t notice a difference. His short bland brown hair is still short. He’s wearing khaki pants and an ironed button down shirt. His shoes are shiny. He looks distinctly guilty.
“Hey Richard!” I shout.
He startles at the sound.
We disgust him, I can tell by the way his lips draw back. After some hesitation, he walks over to us.
I glance at Rachel. She’s narrowed her eyes.
“Where are you headed looking so nice, Richard?” she asks. It comes out sweet, but I can tell she wants to sock him over the head.
“Hi ladies,” says Richard, not meeting our eyes. Instead, he’s looking above our heads, past us. Probably at whatever girl that’s waiting for him. We’ve been suspicious of Richard for a while now. Still, he asks “how’s the planning going?”
Rachel cries out as a coyote appears. It just bounds out of nowhere and yanks a whole chunk of her thigh out.
Francis and I shoot to our feet, which is unlucky for Richard, because Francis has very weak ankles. She topples right over on top of Richard. In trying to catch her, his fingers sink right into her soft flesh, like scooping out the wet insides of a rotting pumpkin.
Richard yanks himself away and vomits. Hands on his knees he heaves for a good minute or two. Then he sprints away.
“Damn,” says Rachel. The coyote is retreating with his find. Together, Rachel and I help Francis to her feet.
She brushes a leaf off her dress, and looks up. “How long do you think you’ll be in the grave before he asks that new girl to marry him?”
The three of us turn around to where Richard has run off to. He’s standing under an elm tree with a girl who has to be at least ten years younger than him. I swear I can see hearts in her eyes, even from here.
“Cradle robber,” mutters Rachel.
Richard tucks a strand of hair behind the girl’s ear, and I laugh.
“What is it?” asks Francis.
“His mouth,” I say, “He’s got vomit on the corner of his mouth.”
The sound of our laughter draws in the crows, and as they feed on our flesh, we laugh.
Katie Doarn is an outdoor educator at a ranch in the Bay Area. Her fiction has been published in NiftyLit, and she holds an MFA from Saint Mary’s College of California. Besides writing, she enjoys petting muddy horses, wearing coveralls, and reading lots and lots of books.