In front of freezing beach air, NATHAN’S glows neon, pink, and green while other lights from the central-subway depot glimmer phosphorescent. In this cold, what could be better than a steaming cup of tea? I remember that doughnut place outside the station like it’s a revelation, but you say that tea would be a distraction, and right now a driving lesson is desired. After all, that’s why we’re here, so we drive near the boardwalk, circling a few times, learning to turn, how to brake, and accelerate.
All of a sudden, we see thin, stray cats, lingering near trash bins. Is it bad luck that black cats just crossed our path? But how could any creatures so wiry and weak have any power over people? Trying to avoid and downplay, I watch with an already disturbed human heart. Its unbearable to watch these unfed felines, so we continue the aforementioned task, in front of the beach, under the neon, pink, and green of this lit-up parking lot.
Considering the starving animals, I question how God could make something like hungry or thirsty cats, but my mind moves towards a logical, and quieting answer – maybe animals don’t have a soul, so perhaps, their starvation is different than our own, but as I look at these cats with their statures of hunger, hunched over, thin, and searching in trash bins, I’m not so sure. Suddenly stopping the driving lesson, I ask if anything can be done to delay death this night.
Hoping that we’re near a pet store, I try to find cat food, but no such luck. All we have to feed them is fries, and I open the window and throw them out, secretly hoping that the cats are picky, like the snobby felines in those Fancy Feast commercials, because then I would know that those animals are more well-fed than they appear. But it does not happen this way, and as I call to them they crowd around the fries and devour them like sticks of meat. Now I know that their hunger is real, like their souls, doing whatever they can to survive death that night.
Ayesha F. Hamid is the founder and editor in chief at The City Key. Ayesha has an MFA in Creative Writing and MA in Publishing from Rosemont College and an MA in Sociology from Brooklyn College. Her poetry and prose has appeared in Big Easy Review Philly Flash Inferno and Rathalla Review. Ayesha is a lover of cities, big and small.