Whenever she looked at the tiger pelt nailed to the wall of their summer cottage, there always was this curious feeling of guilt. Of shame. Despite the fact that it wasn’t her fault that she had killed the majestic creature and it wasn’t her fault that she didn’t carve the skin from the flesh with a gleaming knife or with a shard of an liquor bottle.
Whenever she looked at the mangy cats that prowled around the city, pink tongues swiping over scarred muzzles, one eye closed, seeping pus out the corner of its eye. She slung her white, fox-piece over her slender shoulders, a tiara propped on her golden locks. She would always skirt around the creature, around the thing that had spittle caked on its snout. Sometimes, when she had arm looped through her beau’s, she wouldn’t say anything when he would aim a well-placed kick towards one of the felines. “Haw haw!” He would laugh, wiping his polished shoes against the grass. “Did’cha see me kick that bastard? It just hissed and ran away.” She gave a weak giggle, breathy and fake, and would nod.
The shame was back. “You really showed him, Hun.”
She would return one day later, to the alley between two dilapidated buildings, where she knew where the thing prowled. “Here, puss. Here, puss!” Her voice was gentle, lilting, gloved hand clutching a slab of raw salmon that she bartered from an old man with only three fingers on one hand. She shook it enticingly before tossing it a few feet away from her.
The mangy cat emerged from behind the dumpster, amber orbs contracting at the shock of light that flooded through the cracks. She raised a hand, and scooted forward while the cat feasted, running a hand through its knotted fur. Sensing the unfamiliar hand on its fur, the cat hissed and swiped at her, slashing four deep gouges in her arm. “You beast!” The golden-haired woman stood up, and kicked the cat, sending it reeling to the wall with a pathetic wheeze. It meowed, amber eyes dilated in horror, staring up at her. She took one step back and another before turning tail and running back home to the tiger pelt in her summer cottage.
She was feeling something curious. It burned underneath her skin, red-hot.
For one skinned cat.