Sabrina Orah Mark’s column, Happily, focuses on fairy tales and motherhood.
For days Foryst, my cat, seems to have something caught in his throat. I bring him to the vet. “It might be a twig,” I say. “Or a pebble.” “What’s the cat’s name?” she asks. “Foryst,” I say. “Forest,” I say again, “but with a y where the e should go.” The vet is quiet. “How old is Foryst?” she asks. “Thirteen,” I say. She looks in his mouth. “It hurts when he swallows,” I say. Foryst is still. The vet sees nothing. She listens to his heart, his lungs. She hears nothing. It suddenly makes no sense to me that she is a human. Why isn’t she a wolf with great big eyes and great big ears that are all the better to see him with? To hear him with? “I recommend blood work,” she says.
I put my face in Foryst’s fur. “Please tell me what’s wrong.” He is silent. There is something in his throat. A word or a dead leaf. I am sure of it.
The vet wants blood work. She wants the cold, definitive clink of numbers. I want Foryst to talk so he can tell me what hurts. I want him to cough up a dry spooked O and be suddenly healed. I want him to tell me the future. I call my mother. “There’s something stuck in Foryst’s throat.” “Of course there’s something stuck in Foryst’s throat,” she says. “Why wouldn’t there be something stuck in his throat? There’s something stuck in all of our throats.” She hangs up. I swallow once. I swallow twice.
When we get home, I open Foryst’s mouth and shine a flashlight down his throat. Something shines back, like a diamond in a cave. His teeth are hieroglyphs. I want to jot them down so I can read what’s inside him. I want to reach all the way in, but he snaps his mouth shut and growls.
I tell my husband there is something stuck in Foryst’s throat. “What?” he says. He lifts his left headphone from his ear. “There is something stuck in Foryst’s throat.” My husband is always wearing headphones. I say everything twice.
In fairy tales animals are always talking. Even when they are dead, they are talking. Read More