“There is Only One Black Cat” • by Pauline Barmby

Many humans think they own a black cat. They are wrong. I belong to none of them. I have vastly more than nine lives and I live them all at once.

I knead my mother’s belly and squeak in anticipation of her warm milk. I tumble into a pile of my siblings and fall asleep, content. I catch a tiny mouse and present it to my human. I skitter along a busy street and a car misses me by a tail’s-width. I chase a laser spot across slippery linoleum. I wriggle under a scratchy fence and revel in temporary freedom. I pounce on a drifting leaf and wrestle it into submission.

Some humans believe I bring bad luck. It’s true that they often trip over me in the dark, but I bear them no ill will. There is so much to do, and so many places to be, that I have no time for malice. Except toward leaves, of course.

Tabbies and torties ask if it isn’t confusing to be in so many places simultaneously. I reply that it must be terribly tedious to exist in only one. I sleep in Madras sunshine and Ottawa moonlight; I lick a child’s tears from my fur in Nice and lap up spilled tea in Busan. I birth a mewling litter in Ankara and warm the side of a dying man in Bogota.

When the Moon turns blood-red and humans regard the sky with awe, I find quiet, secluded places everywhere on Earth. I curl into a ball, tail over nose. My eyes close and my ears relax. While no human watches, one black cat dies and the next is born.

Pauline Barmby is an astrophysicist who reads, writes, runs, knits, and believes that you can’t have too many favorite galaxies. She lives in London, Canada and hopes to someday visit her namesake main belt asteroid, minor planet 281067. Find more of her words at galacticwords.com.


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“There is Only One Black Cat” • by Pauline Barmby
“Forced Perspective” • by Kimberly Ann Smiley
“The Moments Between” • by Elis Montgomery
“Runt of the Litter” • by Gustavo Bondoni



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Please don’t make me escalate to posting pictures of sad kittens and puppies…