Apparently, you’re not supposed to smile when a cat scratches you. That’s what he told me when he realised that I was getting bad again. When a cat drags its claws across your ashen skin, you’re not meant to be pleased; when blood breaks through to the surface, making a line of glossy scarlet globules along the path that the claw forged on the landscape of your arm, you’re not meant to be relieved. Apparently, you’re meant to wipe the blood away immediately, not let it coast slowly downwards over the old scars made previously by other imaginary cats. And, apparently, you shouldn’t let the claret collect in the crook of your elbow, shouldn’t lap up the glorious ruby fjord with the tip of your tired tongue. Apparently, when a cat scratches you, you’re not meant to aggravate it further. You’re not meant to encourage it to pounce again, you’re not meant to be excited by a second, third, fourth scratch, thrilled by a gorgeously deep bite on the wrist, ecstatic, in love with the pinch and the perfect teeth marks puncturing your skin. Apparently, there are lots of things that we’re not supposed to do. You’re not meant to do lots of things, but I do. He knows I don’t like doing what I’m supposed to, knows I never do what I’m meant to. The sting from a cat scratch is not supposed to spark a satisfied smile but it does, it does. It shouldn’t, it’s not supposed to, it’s not meant to, but it does.
Originally published by Alternate Route (January 2022).