I yawned, flashing my gleaming fangs, and stretched leisurely, the dazzling sun glancing off my bold, satin hide. Rasping my sandpaper tongue over my lustrous fur, I rolled idly onto my back, churning my huge, padded paws in the air.
Glancing over to the stained and scratched glass, I glimpsed a parade of young boys with sticky hands and messy hair jostling for position next to a cage beside mine. I heard a snarl of rage and all the boys jumped backwards at once, elation in their chubby faces.
I rose from the putrid straw where I had been snoozing and moved, like a lithe shadow on a summer’s day, towards the barrier where my world ended, and another began. Persistent flies buzzed around my nose and I shook my head irritably, trying to rid myself of them. From here, I could see a spotted silhouette passionately pacing round and round his barren enclosure, almost like a dainty fairy in a music box.
Scuffing my blunt claws nervously along the soiled stone floor, I edged as close as I dared, my ebony stripes blending me into the gloom. I could smell the unmistakable scent of a raging cat, distinct among the lingering odour of humans. Topaz eyes blazing, he whirled round like a dervish, a storm of ire and spirit. Startled, I back away, crumbling under his defiant gaze. His enormous, cream-coloured teeth bared, his obsidian rosettes cloaking a vehement being, he prowled forwards until his nose was pressed up against the rusting bars of his grimy prison. I could sense the stench of rotting meat on his breath and feel the relentless thump of my heart like a hammer in my chest. I managed a feeble snarl as he made to come closer. But my efforts were futile.
He stopped a whisker away, the decrepit bars the only thing separating us. I stared into his titian eyes, feeling his anguish, his ardour, his sorrow. My heart went out to him. I would never be as brave. I turned away, miserably swishing my tail. My life was over. Forever.