about the author

Katrina Prow lives and writes in Long Beach, California. Her writing is forthcoming or has recently appeared in The Journal, Pithead Chapel, Redivider, Passages North, NANO Fiction, WhiskeyPaper, Juked, and elsewhere. She received a PhD in Creative Writing, Fiction from Texas Tech University in May of 2017. Today, she is back in Southern California, where she teaches Creative Writing courses at Chapman University. Outside of teaching, she still finds freedom waiting tables and is working on a novel about the restaurant industry after many years in the ‘biz. She has been an artist in residence at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Yaddo. You can find her discussing pop culture (frequently) and literature (sometimes) on Twitter @katprow.

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You Know That Pussy Good,

Katrina Prow

he says as he hands you socks, underthings. A forehead kiss and then he rolls over to check his phone for a girlfriend, the same one that earlier he had called an ex. There are six cats in his home, each one circling the bed like body chalk, you are here now. Your favorite, a long-haired black one named Coal, is under your arm, he lays his head on your breast, he nuzzles, gets comfortable. The man here has skin like coffee with cream, he feels that way too: acerbic until softened, until you add a spoonful to sweeten him up. He says the only thing he ever wanted to be was Native American, but in this lifetime he is a waiter and father though his daughter is not here, and you feel yourself shape-shifting to become a vessel of temporary warm, not one he wants constantly, but the kind he craves on days that feel cold.

You have shrunk yourself for men before, but he makes you feel so small when he says he loves to fuck you, he loves how you carry yourself, how you do your nails, how you have some meat on your bones, not like other skinny bitches, he says. He says you read Italian, or Middle Eastern, little chickpea, little poopoo, little bootyhead, he says you should probably leave tonight or I have to go early in the morning, and when his phone starts buzzing in five-minute intervals on your side table or his, you call the Uber, or put on pants to lock the door after. He says, Baby, get up now, I don’t have a key, like that’s something you would offer. He says, Your little gay friend does and what does he do for you, he doesn’t kiss you or make you cum or lick that good pussy.

Most nights you try to hold the black one, you put your face near his, you coo, you pet, you say, I love you, Coally. You say, Do you want to come live with me, and pretend to carry him out in your purse. There are pictures of her everywhere: the fridge, in frames on walls, photobooth strips cut in fours in dishes on shelves. He tells you to leave some things at his place, a few shirts, a few pants, comfy shoes. You leave a watch the one time you use his shower, his girlfriend’s soap. Time is both slow and escalating: his girlfriend calls four times one night, then texts, Just be real with me bitch, I am asking you woman to woman bitch, are you fucking him?

The last time you wake in his bed, your arms are sliced and bleeding. Your flesh torn at the shoulder, the inside of your right arm raised and blood red from the claws. You say, The cats got me, and he says that it was your fault. You held too close, too tight, Coal doesn’t like being smothered. You knew about the arrangement.

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