What Cats Can Do by Charmaine Wilkerson
The friend who took me to what we later called the Cat Attack Party has e-mailed a photo of an eight-week-old kitten, the inky triangles of its tiny ears ringed with silvery fuzz. I swivel my laptop to show a colleague the peachy snout, the marble eyes, the miniscule paws. “Do you want a cat?” I ask. There are reasons why someone might not take a cat, if they know what cats can do. The scar down my arm is what a cat can do. An ancient tabby prone to convulsions who, in the final months, flung itself at the shifting light. I bled all over the floor, bled on my swishy skirt, bled on the shirt of the doctor who helped me. The Doc, too, had a scar. He'd tumbled off a mountain bike and skidded down a gravelly hill. I watched his hand smooth out the gauze, tape it down, fingertips soft. We got to talking, then met again, to eat, to kiss, to couple. When the cat was put down, he drove by my house, let me weep blue eyeliner on the car’s upholstery. We married the next year and he left me rich, having died in the umpteenth fall off his bike, while I lay in bed, my face turned towards the smell of sleep on his pillow. She will take the cat, my colleague says. She knows I won’t tolerate that nose against my arm, those tiny claws catching on my shirt. She has seen the photo and it is love at first sight. Because she knows, in fact, what cats can do.