Leopard peels back his mask and reveals prints deeper than skin. To prove his point, he pierces the base of your thumb with a finely sharpened claw. When a garnet cabochon of blood appears, you realize you are no longer sleeping. In keeping with the evening’s festive theme, a fresh bottle appears, as if by magic. Your companion, disinclined to waste, quickly drains his glass down to the dregs, and you notice the sommelier’s tragic mouth tighten with distaste. He is watching as a droplet of merlot wends its way down the leopard’s left fang, which extends beyond the boundaries of his glossy onyx lips. Apologetically, you smile and offer a slight shrug, as if to acknowledge the futility of trying to teach that old cat new tricks.
(c) 2018, by Hannah Six