You look for the atlas, and then pull at the tail.

He always said I was only good at useless things so I picked up the microscope and slid it under the glass: the way that the veins on his hands pulsed as he stirred his coffee, the way the shadows of the holes in his lobes looked like the points on semicolons–separate statements, an independent clause. This is why in the end, I decided against it: after we cut a cat open, I decided scalpels weren’t really my thing. After the teacher, I thought it might be better to be self-taught. No, we never kissed. No, it wasn’t like that. We killed mice together is all. When I asked well, what is this for? He peered at me through the cigarette smoke so I held us to my lips. Blow away to see better. To study the body, he said. I put my index finger over the mouse’s belly until it felt like a rubber eraser. He was the one I wanted. Cat’s hearts are like pin cushions. I wrote him a story. We put the excess formalin into a different bottle, keeping it to slosh into another animal yet. I think of cats and mice and wonder who was chasing who when we were cutting them open.

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