Absurd, my boyfriend said, when I blamed the cat’s flip-flop behavior on its astrological sign, the pulsing flick of its tail twisting around my shins one moment, a sudden hiss and flight towards the hallway, the next. Gemini, I said, watching the kitty’s slender rear speed away, the dark, twin dots of his maleness briefly exposed in a patch of pale fur before his tail dropped and followed him into a closet.
The cat’s just being a cat, my boyfriend said, as I showed him online where a feline’s conduct could be linked to the date of its birth. He thumbed the spot on his arm where the cat’s claws had dug in the previous week. He snatched his keys from the foyer console, creaked open the front door and backed away across the threshold. Cats need their independence, he said. Either that, or the animal’s being a stinker.
The man’s just being a rat, my best friend said after my boyfriend ghosted me on my birthday. Stop looking at that horoscope and listen to me, she said. She reached over to thumb the head of the cat, who lay warm and humming in my lap, his stripes curled into themselves like a nautilus, the tip of his tail flicking back and forth like the rattle of a viper.
Charmaine Wilkerson is an American writer who lives in Italy. Her novella “How to Make a Window Snake” won the Saboteur Award for Best Novella and the Bath Novella-in-Flash Award. Her flash fiction has appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Best Microfiction, Litro Magazine, 100 Word Story, FlashBack Fiction, Bending Genres and Reflex Fiction.
Steven John – Senior Fiction & Special Features Editor