I built a cat from my dreams...
I was young, perhaps twelve
or so. I had been spending many hours helping my father
in his screen print
Like any self respecting print shop, we had a shop cat
, an adopted calico stray who soon gave birth to many kittens.
(We came back to find them after a long weekend. They had gotten into everything, being kittens. Years later, we still found tiny little kitten paw prints in odd shades of ink, in very unusual places. The kittens themselves looked like strangely colored calicos, blue here, red there, green or purple under there.)
I remember knowing more about cat anatomy
, in my dreams, than I normally would, or should. Perhaps I was overwhelmed
by the fume
s of solvent
I remember handling the creamy, dry white bones of the cat. The gentle, toy-like pop of its vertebra
snapping together. The difficulty of attaching the tendon
s and muscle
s to their corresponding dimples and sockets in the cats skeletal structure.
Puzzling over the floating, loose shoulder joints, a feeling unnatural and unknown surfaced. I felt a winsome jealousy
of the cat's obvious beauty and cruel efficiency
as I continued assembling the calico cat.
In a different dream, reacting to some situation between my father, the cat, and I, this jealousy manifested itself in a much more gruesome manner. I broke the cat, in that one, not built it. I remember it shot red lasers from its eyes which would cut and burn the steel door of the print shop
, scarring and gouging the concrete walls. I fought with it, eventually grabbing its throat and breaking its jaw with my hand. I still remember the gruesome feeling of the calico's tiny little jaw snapping back under the palm of my hand, a sound like splintering wet popsicle sticks, its sharp teeth puncturing neat little holes there, drawing blood that likely would never be tasted. This dream stayed with me. I will never forget.
The last step in building the cat was to skin the cat
. Except, this involved stuffing the cat's bony, meaty tail into the fur, a backwards process indeed, rolling its skin on like a furry condom
, working it back-to-front over the cat.
At some point just after starting to stuff the cat into its skin, I noticed it was quite alive. I worked feverishly to finish, pushing, shoving the thought of the agony the cat would likely be suffering out of my mind, but unsuccessfully. The cat struggled as I pulled the fur up over its haunches, claws scratching as I tried to push its hind legs into the waiting fur. Tiny holes snipped for the claws to poke through. Tugging the fur up the torso smoothly, straightening it so the patches of intermittent stripes lined up with the cat's spinal column
Lastly, of course, came the cat's head and face. I remember this most distinctly, tugging and pushing the fur around to get the ears, eyes, and mouth line up properly.
I remember folding the flaps of its muzzle
around its nose and mouth, tucking it in along the jawline
. Bringing the folds of its snout forward, like peeling a banana backwards, pressing the sides of its furry, bewiskered muzzle together to seal it all together.
The cat looked at me, wide green-gold eyes flecked with iridescent
s, shards of broken rainbows there. A flick of its tail and a soft, non-commital mewing, and it was gone, fleet of foot and silent as death.
But, I still knew. I knew I couldn't build a cat