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Caged Beasts

On the day the furry gray beast attacked me I was lying on the floor. I had rolled my orange yoga mat out and forced myself to do a 30 minute dance cardio workout. Though I couldn’t feel less “dance-y” in that moment, I knew that movement would make me feel better in the end.

I was on my back, hugging my knees into my chest, stretching my hips, when all of the sudden – a woosh of noise, a weight colliding with the back of my head, soft fur in the creases of my eyelids, and four paws, claws out, wrapped around my skull. A sharp pain. Nimbus – the attacker – opened his mouth and sunk his fangs into my scalp. I yanked him off, his claws scraping across my earlobes as he forfeited his grip. I bolted upright and Nimbus stood his ground, three feet away, glaring at me with malice, as if asking me: “Well, what are you going to do about it, human?”

I ran at him, stomping my feet. He darted off towards the couch. My ear was still pounding, hot and red. Now that the shock had worn away, I felt fury building up in me. I grabbed my water glass and I ran towards him again, he changed direction and wove his way through my feet. I turned and chased after him, upending the full glass of water at his retreating body. About half the liquid met its mark, the other half pooled on the ground, finding its way into the cracks of our wood floors.

It was at this point that Kyle made his way out of the bedroom to see what the hell was happening. Nimbus’s sleek gray form, now slightly damp, snaked around Kyle’s legs and vanished into the bedroom, under the bed. I wasn’t going to get anymore revenge on the attacker, but my fury had not dissipated. My heart was pounding and the cuts on my head were throbbing. I opened my mouth and screamed, with every ounce of sound I could muster, the back of my throat straining with the effort. Kyle’s face fell slack, trying to catch up with what was happening. I stomped from the hallway, back into the living room, grabbing my journal from the coffee table where it innocently lay and hurled it across the room. I watched, acknowledging the first slight twinge of regret in my body, as the pages catapulted into my makeshift desk and knocked the picture frame Kyle had gotten me off the windowsill. But I had become the hulk, unperturbed in my quest for destruction. I had one more act left in me: I walked over to my desk chair and knocked it sideways.

“I’m so fucking sick of this!” I screamed again. Then, I stomped past Kyle, past the bedroom door, where Nimbus was likely listening to my breakdown with glee, and into the bathroom, where I proceeded to slump against the wall, my back sliding down towards the tile floor, and I sobbed.

I’m so fucking sick of this. As I sat on the bathroom floor, I let the sobs move through my body. Allowing the months of pain and built up emotion find release. It wasn’t okay, I kept thinking to myself. It wasn’t okay that we hadn’t seen our friends or family or any other human we loved in three months. It wasn’t okay that we were scared to leave our apartment, or that the 600 square foot space had become the only place we were allowed to be. It wasn’t okay that people were dying and our politicians were failing at providing protection. It wasn’t okay. And then, of course, there was that cat.

After a few moments of heaving sobs, my tears quieted enough to hear Kyle’s footsteps slowly making their way towards the bathroom. I didn’t look up as he came in, but I felt as he sat down next to me and put his arm around my shoulders.

“The fucking cat attacked me,” I said through my tears.

Kyle just sat and rubbed my arm. Letting my tear-soaked face nestle into his shirt, soaking it straight through.

I could feel the full regret of my reaction seeping into my thoughts now. An overreaction. But even in the act of attempting to destroy the apartment and soak my cat, I knew it was too much, but I couldn't stop.

That night, Nimbus would hop his way up onto the bed. As he did every night. He would paw his way over to my legs, and then turn around in one circle, then another, before settling down onto the blanket to sleep for the night. The warmth of his body and the soft sound of his purrs radiating through the dark night air.

Nimbus, of course, was never meant to be in a cage. And in fact, neither were we.


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