Big Cat

Strawberries are transitioning out of the supermarket displays, being replaced by watermelon, the more summertime-appropriate fruit. It’s June; plump clouds crowd the sky, butterflies fly in and out of glassy curtains of rain. Half of this year has already disappeared into the mirage. I will be leaving my current job in two months, and going back to school in the fall.

This future is something leonine. Powerfully attractive, shimmering provocatively against the amber of a setting sun, but still forbidding in its stature, and capable of a great terror. When I cannot sleep, I imagine what would happen if a lion were suddenly teleported into my apartment in the nighttime. Stolen away from the red and tangerine dream of the plains, its knee-high sea of honey and cherry-colored grass, and plunged into the shadow of my bedroom. A 200-kilogram king of beasts versus a twenty-four year-old and a scruffy polyester rabbit.

On the phone, my mother tells me that I’m not “una cría” anymore. Una cría: a cub, a foal. I imagine a young wolf awakening in a den, and sleepily emerging into a pool of moonlight. The night and the forest moving to encompass her in their mossy, fecund odor. Her longing visible in the exhalation of her breath. Her eyes conspicuous as bloodstains against the dusky fur of her broad, gently tapered head. I think of her glancing around slowly, pawing at the soft peaty ground, before then padding forward, and disappearing soundlessly into the unmarked darkness between the trees.

In my neighborhood, there is no shortage of strikingly beautiful stray cats. They are well-fed by local retirees, and if they suffer injury during the course of their lives, their silken pelts and clear eyes reveal nothing of this. I bicycle past a white cat, its back turned to me, sitting motionless underneath the train tracks. To experience a day in this cat’s eyes. To disappear under fences and through foliage. To race down a hill carpeted in flowers. To join the 24-karat covenant with the birds, the bees, and nature in summer. To be led only by desire. To be somewhere else.

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