“The animals have come to discuss the end of the world,” she whispers. She can whisper. She does whisper. Calico cat whispers travel the length of her whiskers as she purrs in the laps of maidens and crones and the women with arms strong enough to pull the nets off beached whales and push the creatures back to sea.
It’s hot today. The women lost a building last night. The skyscraper–still standing tall, half flooded–scrapped the sky as it fell into the water. No one alive was inside.
The women circle the calico cat and rub her stomach as they sunbath atop a half submerged building. The water below them smells like salt, but by the afternoon the hot sun will melt lingering plastics into an unbearable effluvium.
“When did the world end?” A woman asks. She massages between the pads of the calicos toes. The woman is twenty-two. She has not known a time before submerged buildings. Her mother has.
“It hasn’t yet,” the calico cat whispers. Her toes are splayed wide for the attention and the thumb of the woman’s ministrations. “The animals have yet to discuss it.”
Promptly, the calico is done. She triangulates herself, then brings her leg across her body in an ugly position to lick the woman’s ministrations off her toes. Between the tugging of her spiked tongue on the fuzz of her feet the calico says, “If they decide for it, you wouldn’t survive it.”
The women look at each other in question.
“I would,” said the calico cat. “My daughters would.”
Cover Art by Ellen Harrold