I don't know why. But sometimes, I write because my fingers will not be denied.
This one, I just couldn't make it lewd. I wanted to remind my readers that sometimes, being mamono is -not- bliss. There might be another side to it, there might be something that is lost when we become fans of this sort of thing.
Nyan = japanese vocalization of "meow"
I exhaled, at last the rain came back.
It was a hard five years, and there wasn’t a single person on the entire continent who was well-off that didn't feel the half-decade drought. And even then, the well-off found themselves needing to be compassionate to the less fortunate, tightening their own belts, or risk having no one left to sell them things when the rains finally came back.
I was one of the lucky ones. I had no debt, and no family to feed. I was able to scrape by, and now that the rains were back, things were only going to get better for me.
I walked on, seeing the various people; human and mamono with their hands and mouths open to the sky, in rapturous joy. I smiled, but the weatherman stated the rain would last for days. I could enjoy a civilized glass when I got back to my apartment.
“Oof! Sorry!” I muttered, accidentally bumping into a werecat.
“But we haven’t done anything yet. nyan!” The cat mumbled.
-Ah, it was a Cheshire werecat.
“Well, um…” I stopped as I actually took in the young lady before me. Her eyes were glazed over, her hair and fur was a matted mess… but most telling of her distress, she didn’t have that grin that was usually plastered on their face.
“Nyan! That’s what she said.” The cat said with a weak shrug.
Damn, she really must have been hit hard by the drought. I looked closer, her skin looked awful and dried out. Her hair on closer inspection was caked with dirt and looked brittle.
“Like what you see?” She mumbled, about to walk off when I took her arm.
“Uh? Why wait, when it can be now, nyan?” She said with another weak shrug.
“Hey.” I said, placing my hand on her cheek, curling my fingers around the back of her head. “Would you like something to eat?”
Her eyes focused on me for the first time, and in that moment, she seemed real. All Chesire cat’s I ever encountered before were full of innuendo; they were all sparkle, but no depth. I never really liked being around them… but there was something different about this one.
“Oooh? Really?Nyan! Eat? And what part of you, would you like?” She said, a faint, fake smile turning the corners of her lips.
I exhaled, “Forget it. You’re still making jokes.” I let go and turned, but she now held onto my arm.
I turned… seriously, how long does it take a man to turn? But this time, just turning my body and head seemed to take an eternity, it seemed to cross the endless haze the harsh five-year summer, and cross over the boundless wasteland of a Cheshire cat’s repertoire of innuendos, right to her heart… or at least her stomach.
Her lip trembled, and her real eyes were back and sparkled with tears. “Yes. Please? Nyan!”
“My name is Jake.” I said, adjusting my arm to take her hand, and shook it gently.
“I am Diane.” She said. She opened her mouth, held it… and closed it again. “Thank you.” She added after a moment of silence.
I didn't have any food at my apartment, but ordered a generous helping of KFC with a couple of sides.
She ate, mostly in silence, or sometimes she would make happy vocalizations to the good food; Fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet corn and cold water. She kept looking at me with a small amount of worry, maybe fear. But it felt good to help a truly desperate soul.
“Jake.” She said, wiping her mouth with a paper towel. “Thank you. How can I repay this kindness?”
I looked in her eyes. “Be real.” I gestured to her. “This, this moment we’re having right now, it feels real. More real than any other encounter I’ve ever had with a mamono before, especially a cat- not to mention a Cheshire cat.”
Diane dropped her eyes and shrugged in a pitiful way. “I- I don’t know if I can, Jake. You have no idea how much I have to bite my tongue to not say whatever is in my head.” She looked back up to me. “I think you are seeing what you want to, and not what is really there.”
I exhaled, “But- what about those moments in the rain? You were so different- and don’t tell me it was because you were starving! I’ve seen Cheshire cats act lewd all the way prison and beyond.”
Diane’s tail twitched, mimicking her shrug. “I don’t know- I was so hungry. And there was this smell about you- not just you being single. Lots of men are single in this city. No, there was…” She looked up at me again with those real eyes. “… this kindness about you. I just knew that if I was to get your attention…”
“That you’d be able to eat?” I said, already knowing that wasn’t what she was going to say.
“No!… yes?… maybe?” She shrugged, “I don’t know…” She brought her paws to her face and inhaled.
I was about to say something when she brought her paws down on the table in a violent, desperate motion.
“-I wasn’t always like this, you know!” She cried out. “I once was human! Did you know that? Oh! It was so long ago! I saw all the men so lavishly in love with monster girls and I was so jealous!”
She shook her head as she continued. “And then I confronted this cat- I screamed at her and called her a flea-bitten mangy stray! And- And- And-”
She wiped her eyes. “And the cat just smiled at me, and the next thing I know…I’m like this!” She buried her head in her arms and sobbed. “Sometimes, I forget I was human, and sometimes it’s all I think about, and I think I’ve lost so much!” She looked up to me and wiped her eyes again. “B-b-but all I ever wanted was love! Is that so bad?”
I swallowed, overwhelmed by the raw, primal outpouring of emotion from this poor creature.
“Uh, and I guess it didn’t work out like that?”
She gasped, started by my voice, seeming to have forgotten I was there.
“Oh! Um…yes?… no wait- …. maybe?” She shrugged. “I sometimes can remember being happy. Being happy with someone?” She shrugged again. “I don’t know.” She lowered her head. “Jake, thank you so much for giving me a meal. But- but I should go.” She rushed out.
Go after her! My brain screamed at me.
I jumped, and flew down the stair and scanned the street.
“Wait!” I screamed, freezing Diane in her tracks.
She turned to me, her face sad. Looking completely like a stray kitten that was crying for a home.
I held out my hand, and walked into the street. The rain was really pouring down now, and we were both soaked to the bone.
The rain poured down, almost seeming to wash us both clean. And in that moment, in the rain, with her tears masked by the tears of the earth, and the breadth and scope of the wasted years of my life laid bare like a field dying of thirst… we stepped towards each other… somehow needing each other.
A paired chorus some might say.
“Stay with me?” I asked.
“Why me?” She said, shaking her head, her ears casting drops of water from their tips.
“I don’t know, isn’t it enough that we want each other? That we want to be together?”
A lewd smile crept to her lips. “You want me? In what way?”
I almost groaned, almost turned away, but I saw her eyes take on a hint of sadness. It was almost like the part of her that was human, was adding her voice to the chorus as well. And in that moment, I knew.
I picked up my darling stray, and carried her back to my apartment, in a way seeming to reclaim a portion of life that I felt that I had only recently realized I was missing.