In The Woman’s Head – Francine Witte

In the woman’s head

She is holding the cat, the cat is all she has in the gone-ness of love. Another man was clapped off the stage and went on to something other in his life. The woman has time now. She is too sad to work. She is makeup-free, stiletto-free. She can bake and eat and sleep too late. She has the cat to fill up her arms. She tempts the cat with a shatter of cat treats.

The cat is night-colored, eyes like white planets. After some time, the woman forgets to drop the treats, forgets to stroke the cat, but yanks the cat into her now fleshy arms. She squeezes the cat like a lemon, waiting for something to come out of the cat that the cat doesn’t have.

She puts the cat down and tells the cat she’s sorry. She isn’t sorry, but says it anyway. The woman hasn’t said real words in a very long time. She likes the sound of them, the full round shape of them. They float and drift in the air, the cat circling the floor underneath.

In the cat’s head

He is holding the woman. He in her arms, but he is in charge. The cat has cat-things to do, but the woman lures the cat into her arms with treats and the cat likes that. The woman seems to need something. The cat doesn’t know exactly what.

The woman is beach-colored and empty. Her eyes liquid and puffed up like waterholes. The woman used to come and go and come and go, but doesn’t anymore.

Before all this, there was a man. And when the man was there, the woman left the cat alone. Didn’t try to hold the cat in her arms that were wiry and muscled. Didn’t bother with treats, and words were tinny and constant.

Sometimes now, the woman forgets the treats, and the cat thinks that maybe this is what drove the man away. The cat would tell her that if he had words. He hasn’t heard the woman’s words in quite some time. So long a time, in fact, he isn’t really sure what they are, and as the words start to fall to the floor, he circles and stalks the way he would if it were a bird about to fall from the sky, and him getting back to his own feral self.

Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks and two full-length collections, Café Crazy and The Theory of Flesh from Kelsay Books. Her flash fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologized in the most recent New Micro (W.W. Norton) Her novella-in-flash, The Way of the Wind has just been published by Ad Hoc Fiction, and her full-length collection of flash fiction, Dressed All Wrong for This was recently published by Blue Light Press. She lives in New York City.

Image via Pixabay

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