Fanny Flatule sits next to the Russian Blue who is giving birth. One of the kittens is dead. Its skin is blue, not blue like the mother, but blue-skinned translucent. She picks it up and puts it in a box for her friend Pete who is an artist. He makes lamps and stuffed animals out of animal corpses. He'll like this, she thinks. Fanny's mother comes in the room wearing a caftan. You've always looked good in blue, says Fanny to her mother. I can see the veins on your forehead, her mother says to her, ignoring the compliment. Yes, says Fanny, I was worried about Edna. Edna comes from a sturdy line of purebred Russians, says her mother. But purebreds are notoriously delicate, Fanny says. Pah, says her mother, spittle flying out of her mouth. What's up with the dead one, her mother asks. I'm giving him to Pete who makes dead things into art, Fanny says. Pete won't go out with you, her mother says. Oh, mom, I don't care if Pete wants to be my boyfriend; it's enough that he has sex with me because I give him dead animals, Fanny says. You're worth more than trading carcasses for sex, her mother says. Her brow furrows. She wipes her mouth with her hands and removes the white mucous built up on her lips. Let's measure the dead one's paws and compare them to the other kittens' paw widths, the mother suggests. That'd be fun, says Fanny, always happy to share in activities with her mother. They take the box and place it on the work table. There is a cardboard cutout of a paw glued to it. They put the dead kitten's paw on the cutout and measure it with a ruler. Grab a live one, says the mother. Fanny picks one up and measures its paw. It's one centimeter bigger than this one's left paw, Fanny says. But did you measure the right or left paw on the dead one, asks the mother. The left, says Fanny. Of course, says the mother. Fanny is pregnant with twin girls. Her mother says, We need foot cutouts for when the girls are born; one might have bigger feet than the other. If one or both are dead, I don't want any measuring, says Fanny. Birthing is hard work, says the mother. What's that supposed to mean, asks Fanny. It means that you might, my dear, might not even know where your babies are after you push them out of you, the mother says. Oh, I'll know where they'll be right now, says Fanny. And where is that, asks her mother. On my chest, says Fanny. Your chest of drawers, asks the mother. Mom, stop joking around, Fanny says. Well, I know how you like to display trophies, says the mother. These babies aren't trophies, Fanny says. Tell Pete that, says her mother. He'd not even be the least bit glad if they were stillborn, says Fanny.
Copyright, 2010, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved