By Erin Anderson
I am alone in her home as I face her art. In the living room, she has painted two birds and given them both cat ears and human faces. It is her face, doubled. She has turned herself into twin cat-bird Frankensteins: predator heads on bodies of prey. In another self-portrait in the dining area, she is younger, wholly human, holding a rabbit. To be in her home is to witness a woman’s struggle with, and perhaps for, dominance.
I have agreed to feed the two cats, one male, one female. The male requires half a food-slathered Xanax every day to muzzle his instincts. He must be prevented from marking her studio as his territory. Even with his medical muffling, he is denied access. Her door stays shut.
She has a partner. He also lives in this house. He also has a studio. His abstractions are suspended from the ceiling in the northwestern part of the building that is several thresholds away from the living and dining room. This is the only place marked by his art. Each of the doors that leads to his corner are open. The male cat does not dispute his domain.
There is no art in the bedroom where she prefers her cat-sitters to spend the night. She does not want the sitter to just drop by each morning to sift litter and dispense food and sedation. She requires a prolonged presence, an uninterrupted attention.
I don’t mind. The bed is large and comfortable. The male cat waits for me to wiggle my fingers and smack my lips in a kiss before he approaches for a cuddle. He has been chemically convinced not to disturb a woman until she openly welcomes him into her space.
Erin Anderson currently resides in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She has taught English in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Caucasus. She has graduate degrees in English from California State University, Northridge, and Northern Michigan University. She also has an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the School for International Training. Her work has appeared in Bending Genres, Cream City Review, Mississippi Review, Old Northwest Review, Oxford Magazine, and other journals.