Girls are giants bouncy with brunette confetti and heavy vanilla laughter that barks on their breath as they close in, a cylindrical cage of t-shirt bras and cotton latte-bellies and there is no escape. Their shoulders are mountains of Victoria’s Secret polyester – I grip with all my life, eyes open to the white-light sky miles above, otoliths tuned to the ground below that wheezes under the stamps of leather boots. Blond mountains, acne-painted mountains, dusty-lavender mountains that flood my throat with the taste of late-night bleached spaghetti and aloneness. I don’t know what to call it, now, I’m only 6 months old. I just know I don’t like it.
I try to clamber higher, thinking always the next stretch of mountain will be made of mud and rock rather than brains and skulls, that it won’t tremble under my claws that shake themselves. My whole body is an earthquake.
There is one cave, desperately far from my perch on this yarn-weedy shoulder, down beneath what’s called a coffee table: darkness; inches only my close-ribbed body can fit under. I know if I could slip down there they’d never get me. They’d all have to go away, their clickety boots receding down into the hallway behind the big doors. Their voices too would fade like the moon at dawn’s peak. The deafening squeals would die. My heartbeat would slow down there in the shadows.
And then I could come out. My one human, the only one I trust, would still be curled patiently on a distant couch, waiting to take me home. When I was ready. But it’s hopeless. I can’t get down into the cave when the mountains of hair keep directing my claws to grip onto another t-shirt front or intersection of four pieces of denim that make a seated pair of jeans cross-legged on the floor. I cry war, but on their ears my voice is like sugar-snow on cookies. They only squeal louder, silly things that can taste sugar. They don’t hear the umami in the tiger in my diaphragm, deep below, but it is there.
When I get out of this, when I finally do get under that coffee table, I will stay in my cave forever. Even my one human, the only one I trust, will have to give up. She’ll click away, recede. I don’t like humans anymore. If I ever get out of this, I will never bury my trust in their cottony chests again. It’ll only leave me stranded atop a mountain.
When they leave, these giant girls will echo back to their smelly bedrooms where their sticky laptops will display a treasure trove of furry snowflakes just like me in a smattering of boxes, an endless conveyer belt of photos and words and <3’s.
They will see that the cats on Pinterest don’t need a cave, and they will think the cats that tiptoe out of kennels are the same. They might as well make love to a bunch of pixels on a computer screen. I’d rather they kept to that digital game and left me to hunt my catnip prey on a silent wood plateau. My one human, the only one I trust, she would understand, or so I once thought.
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