I feel like a tiny mouse standing in the
middle of a huge room with dusty, dirty brown floors, and a
ceiling so high above that it makes me dizzy to look up. I can't
stop shivering, standing with my feet together and my arms across
my chest. I know there is a cat waiting to catch me. I can feel
him watching me even now. If he catches me he'll hold me up for
everyone to see, for them to laugh at me, and tell me I'm a
bitch. The cat will torture me for daring to be there, but the
nearest place to hide is too far away and I'm afraid to move. I
think that if I just hold still, with my head down, eyes averted,
no one will see me, no one will hurt me and I'll be OK. I can
hear the whispers around me, echoing off the distant white walls,
and all I feel is the pain inside, and I know that I'm totally
alone to face the cat's claws and teeth. Alone, just like I've
Don't ever look them in the eyes, they'll see the truth. Don't
share your feelings, they'll laugh at you. Don't tell them about
him, they won't believe you. It's your fault if the cat catches
you, you deserve what he'll do to you. Why should you ever think
it will be any different? Isn't this the way the world is?
I want to run, but my legs won't work, they feel heavy, leaden.
So I scoot along the floor, feeling the cold, smooth tiles under
my hands. My hands are dirty, my pants are dirty, I'll get in so
much trouble for that. My heart is pounding so loud, and the roar
of the other people as they move from room to room. I can't tell
where he is. I pull myself under the gray metal stall doors just
to find myself in another long white hallway. I'm so scared. I
scramble along the hard, chilling floor, breathing in the dust
and grime. My legs hurt, my chest hurts. The few others who
notice me just laugh and point, and go on about their normal day.
Where is he? I know he's coming to get me. I'm so tired, tired
of running, of pulling myself along, getting bumped and kicked by
the anonymous shoes and legs swirling around me. Why can't I be
like them? My body is tired, my mind is tired. This is the
dream I have had many, many times and for so many years.
Why should you have any friends? You're not a nice person, you
don't deserve to have people care what happens to you. No one
cares where you are,what you're doing. Stay out of the way so
you don't make their life more difficult. There is no cat, there
is nothing except your own spoiled, self-centered existence.
Everyone knows it, especially the cat.
I watch him lick his huge paw, his tongue flicking in and out
like that of a snake. His fur is orange, thinning, plastered to
his chest as his rough tongue grates at it, chewing out the fleas
that live in his scruffy coat. I know the feeling of that
tongue, of those thick, cumbersome paws, holding me down. His
eyes are half closed now, his face reflecting his satisfaction,
his breathing even and deep. I feel his hot breath on me as he
holds me still, and I shudder, waiting for it to begin again.
When his breath turns short and shallow, his eyes bright, his
grasping more insistent, then I know it's time.
I'm so cold, the room is so empty, and all I
can hear is his breathing. Again I wonder, why doesn't he ever
finish? Why does this cat play with me, never going that last
step, never completing the kill? Why, after he's finally done
with me, does he let me go, back to the expanse of the brown
floor and the chilly air? Why am I always left by myself, until
he's ready to hunt me again? Alone, to face the world, and the
cat that lies in wait, and I stand again with my eyes down,
holding very still, and I die a little more inside. Always the
little mouse. Alone.
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