Love Cats

Bea, Lorna, Carolina, and Astrid lounge all over each other on the couch, soaking in the moonbeams. Maggie is playing with sink water in the bathroom. Tasha is probably under the bed again clawing at dust. Zoe is pawing at the fridge and crying. Katarina has been missing for two days, and I’m worried she might have gotten hit by a car and is smearing her blood around in a ditch somewhere. 

My darlings. When I find them, I choose my own names for them. Respectable names. Names of women I could fall in love with. 

I need to teach my girls how to feed themselves, how to fend for themselves, but right now, I’m hungry myself, and I can’t do anything when I’m hungry. So, I thaw out a couple of handfuls of dead mice from the freezer, tuck them into hiding places around the house, so my little cuties get to use their hunting instincts. I kiss each of them on the top of the head. Give them a little scritch behind the ear and I go off to that dark, hip diner, where drunk women go after a night of dancing and stalking, when they haven’t gotten what they came out for, when they’re still so hungry, and not yet ready to give up.

Colin, who runs the place, gives me the eye when he sees me, but he can’t say shit about it. That’s one of the reasons this place works out so well for me. It’s his fault I’m here, his fault I’m in this position at all, his fault I stayed lost for so long. 

Still, he has the gall to rush up to me with a menu, and say, “Hello Miss! Can I get you a stool or a booth?”

I point to a purple-haired young woman in a blazer sitting alone at the bar. “I think I’ll just sit there.”

“Perhaps,” Colin says, “You would prefer…” and he points his eyes to a douchey-looking dude in a plaid button up and a clean, bright trucker hat sitting all by himself in a booth. I can smell the dude’s Axe body spray from here. “I’m sure he’d be glad for your company. At least for a while,” and that smirk, that fucking smirk that hooked me all those years ago, and drew me so far from myself, and so forever into darkness. 

“Colin,” I say, “You out of anyone should know how I feel about dicks.”

“Which is exactly the reason for my suggestion,” he says all professional, like this is that kind of place anyway, then he whispers, “I’m worried about you. You need to feed. You can’t keep…collecting.”

I hate Colin. I knew who I was before Colin. He made me doubt, then he turned me into something else. He never even really wanted me. He wanted an accomplice. He wanted an excuse. He showed me how to devour, to desire ripping and destroying, to lap up pain, and lick it off my lips with a laugh and a moan. Nothing to cherish. Nothing to hold. The people I took only went limp and cold. I only took. Nothing was ever given to me. I was always full, but always hollow. I only lived through it because I couldn’t die. He was right though; I needed a good meal. 

The purple-haired girl’s got something in a hefeweizen sweating in front of her while she dips French fries in her egg yolks, and then dangles them into her mouth. She’s her own fish she’s catching is what this says to me, which is hot, and badass, but also something of a consolation prize. Why would we only want ourselves? Where is the friction in that? Where is the heat? I am drawn to her, ok, but I’m trying to make myself dislike her right away. 

“Hey,” I say, “Do you have the time?”

She grimaces. She’s heard me, but she sips a long sip off her glass. Rudely. Takes her time. 

“Depends” she says. “How much do you need?”

“I was supposed to meet a girl here for a blind date at midnight. Is it close to midnight?” I ask, pointing at her phone. “She said she had blue hair. It’s not you, is it? Chloe?”

“Weird,” she says. “I was also supposed to meet a girl here at midnight. She said she had very pale skin, pink hair, Mary Jane shoes like a six-year-old would wear, ridiculously sharpened canines, like some manic pixie goth girl. She also said she’d smell of lavender, lemon zest, and pee. It’s not you, is it?” 

Oh, this is going to be no problem at all. 

​With one of my palms pressing into one of her hip bones, I’ve got Chloe pinned against the parking lot wall. Her fingers are in my bra, flicking my nipples like she’s testing light switches in a dream. It is so easy not to want her want her. Her mouth tastes like egg yolk, and it is gross. I slide my lips down to her collar bone, and then dip back up to her neck. A cliché, I know. First, I lick. Then I rest my teeth against her seething skin. There is so much contempt there, vibrating in her cells. 

​“Ooh, are you going to bite me scary girl?” She’s mocking me. She’s laughing at me. I want to make her stop. My heart is pounding. And my hunger is raging, I almost don’t hear what she is saying. “What’s the problem? Your little teeth not sharp enough? You scared? Not woman enough? Don’t worry, I’m gluten free.” 

I really do mean to feed, to feast, to drain her. 

And the more she laughs, the more justified it is. 

There is no way I’m bringing this one home with me. 

I don’t feel bad about taking from her, her blood, her life, her future. I really don’t.

But damn, what’s in her, I just don’t want to make it mine. 

Bea, Lorna, Carolina, Astrid, Maggie, Tasha, and Zoe are all curled up together on pillows and cushions on the floor. When I walk in, they are silent, but look up at me, eyes widening. Katarina is back too, and she’s made a friend! A long woman in a long gauzy skirt and pink sandals. Yes! My little, lazy, undead family. I’m just a lonely, sad little sack and I collect women like cats. They are my pets, and I am theirs. I slip into the pile, and they purr. They were each lonely, gentle, and aching when I met them. They really wanted something, and I gave it to them. We feed each other. Little nicks and scratches. Busy tongues. Maybe this isn’t what it’s supposed to look like, but we aren’t hurting anybody. Perhaps we don’t get full. But we do get warm. We do get happy.

Caroljean Gavin is a writer and editor. Her work has appeared in places such as Milk Candy Review, Fractured, New World Writing, Best Small Fictions, and X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine. She’s the author of the flash fiction chapbook, Shards of a Stained-Glass Moving Picture Fairytale (Selcouth Station Press), and editor of What I Thought of Ain’t Funny, an anthology of short fiction based on the jokes of Mitch Hedberg (Malarkey Books/Mythic Picnic) and Saturnalia ’21 (LUPERCALIApress) She is on Twitter: @caroljeangavin

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