A friend is getting his house bug bombed and he asked if his cats could stay at my apartment for the day. I said of course, so he came over early this morning and dropped them off. Three cats crept about on their haunches, sniffing everything, dazed from the subway ride, probably the biggest adventure of their lives. My friend left to go to work and I poured some of their food in a bowl and set it on the ground. I stood back up and there were only two cats. I have a small apartment, not many places for a cat to hide. I called my friend and asked if one of the cats had followed him out, or if it could teleport. He said no, but that she was crafty and had thwarted him on many occasions.
I got ready to leave my apartment and then another cat disappeared. This one crept between the crack between the fridge and the counter. One last cat was still exploring my bathroom. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and the last cat was gone. Not under the couch, not behind the bookshelf, totally disappeared in the 400 square feet of my living room. I hope there isn’t a portal to another dimension behind my fridge that the cats keep disappearing into. That would really upset my friend. And me. The cats may be indifferent to this, depending on the dimension. When I left, my apartment was silent and still, offering no suggestion that there were three small creatures hiding somewhere in there.
Almost every woman I know owns a cat. They love their cats, but they fear that this love will spread to obsession and they will squander their love on these creatures, instead of another human. They fear becoming the crazy cat lady.
The main character in Lily Hoang’s story has already achieved that status and wants to go beyond. She wants to become a cat. Her cats are more than happy to oblige. They teach her the cat language, teach her to hunt and go so far as to replace themselves as her vital organs. Hoang’s detail of wounds being sewed up with shimmering cat whiskers sticks with me.
Hoang takes an every-day fear that slowly eats away at the psyche of most young women and ramps it to a surreal degree. It feels as if she does this to suppress that fear, as if to say At least you’re not as crazy as this woman.
Hoang’s story is part of the mud luscious chapbook series, which is a colorful little bunch of booklets that are one great story after another. When the cats disappeared this morning I thought maybe reading this would psychically draw them out. Hopefully when I get home they won’t be ready with the needle and whisker, ready convert me.