i encountered a moth on the landing outside my apartment. the concrete was an excellent disguise for the mottled black and gray creature. i was lucky i had noticed the creature in time not to step on it. i bent over and investigated. the black and gray bump with the feathery texture was like a rock carved from cotton. i asked the creature if i could take a picture.
the moth said, “no.”
i recognized the voice. “mr toad, is that you?”
“i was a toad, once. now, i am a moth. please, call me mr. moth.”
“how on earth did you become a moth?! i thought you were trying to become an accountant or an angel!”
“ah, of course. well i remember my youth, seeking out the love of a woman or the love of a dog. alas, i was a fool. i discovered, instead, the love of a cat. a wicked siamese as large as a bobcat wanders these halls, too. it found me lurking for love. it gently rubbed my back, and purred rapturous nothings into my ear. i followed the cat into the treeline where the wicked creature carved me open. the wicked feline extracted everything from me except for my bones. this, alone, should have killed me. however, cats do not like to kill their victims. even after all my bones had been stripped, i was still alive. the cat – playfully – re-fashioned me into a moth. these feathery strips you see are actually cartilage that was sliced to ribbons. these eyes are empty. all the black spaces in my mottled wings are, in truth, an absence. the perfect camouflage of concrete is mostly due to the holes all through me.”
“this is terrible! poor creature, is there anything i can do for you?”
“no,” he said, “i will just wait here. i have learned many new things as a moth. for instance, moths don’t come from caterpillars. moths are the product of housecats that carve moths from the living bones of prey. we are, all of us, works of extreme craftsmanship. every winter – when moths seem to die – we are collected up into a grand exhibition and a team of elder cats choose the finest, most beautiful moths and reward the winner with a piece of very stinky cheese. the wicked siamese has me under close surveillance lest some bird find me before the masquerade ball. i am, frankly, terrified of him. if you see him, can you please run over him with your car?”
“oh, no, i could never do such a horrible thing.”
“regardless, thank you for your company, good sir. i do not know what moths become when beautiful women kiss them. i wait here, patiently, hoping to discover that i have become an actor, a musician, an artist, or some other kind of beautiful, broken soul. dogs don’t seem to notice me, though. i suspect this is due to some interspecies politics that i do not quite grasp, or else some magic feline spell.”
“cats are, assuredly, magical creatures, mr. moth. they are more magical than politickal. mr moth, i am very sorry for you. yet, i am also hopeful that some lovely woman will come along and kiss you into your new, healed life. may i take your photo, and maybe a woman will find your picture and fall in love?”
“no, good sir. not this time. i do not want the wicked cat’s craftsmanship on display for all the world to see. besides, i can see you do not have your camera with you right now, and you’d have to go inside and inconvenience yourself. this would, i suspect, make you late for whatever thing you are in such a rush to attend in that jacket and tie. might i suggest changing out of jeans into good, old-fashioned slacks?”
“i appreciate the advice, mr moth, but this is appropriate attire for my current function. i feel sorry for you, sir, and i wish you all the best. i will respect your desire not to be photographed.”
i bowed to the moth. he bowed to me. he spread his wings and flew away, away, away.