We Can Open Our Windows from the Top

by Rebekah Bergman

A cat becomes a possibility the same way anything else does—the weather, growing old, etcetera—a cat is a thing that will happen, and the only question to answer is: How, exactly? We have windows without screens, which will be a problem. We have a fat squirrel in the mornings sitting on our fire escape. He looks at us, framed like art on his wall. But he could come in if he wanted to.

A cat becomes a kitten and a kitten becomes two kittens. “Litter” is a word that means the group of babies we will choose from as well as the substance those babies will bury their shit in. This is a curiosity of our language, or a mistake. We make room for both.

You asked for a hat, so I start knitting you one in not quite the right color. It comes from what was once a ball of tangled nothings. Our squirrel watches the needles flash while I whisper knit, knit, purl over and over like a spell.

This is how our lives can be magic.

We can place a scratch post where the lamp was, and right now still is. We can give the kittens names that are anything—Italian foods, dead actors, ex-lovers, your freckled boss.

We can start saying those names into the air around us. Come here, Rigatoni. Stop that, Rena Harrison-Clark.

We can want to take showers, but the kittens are in the shower. The hat I am knitting you can be destroyed, it can be, the skein slashed open, the threads pulled out. It can look like some rag doll was disemboweled on our living room floor. Two strange creatures can hiss at our ankles. We can trim their fingernails, which are not fingernails, but claws. They can grow to depend on us.

This is how we can mistake dependency for love.

We can open our windows from the top, we discover. So we will not need screens to keep our fat squirrel, who still pesters us, out after all. Or to keep our beloved kittens, who still do not live here yet, safe.

Rebekah Bergman’s fiction appears or is forthcoming in The Conium Review, Nashville Review, Joyland, Hobart, and other publications. She holds an MFA from The New School and is a contributing editor at NOON.