You tear away your human suit. To free the animal. So it will breathe. And breed.                         

On all fours, you leave your mother. For the wilderness, a thick cloud of emerald. You unravel from her grizzly-bear-hug; she squeezes your velvet paws, tousles the fiery fur upon your crown, kisses your tickling whiskers and looks with drowning eyes deep into yours—beautified to green-gold slits. Your mother begs you to stay. You hiss and bare your yellowing teeth.         

She doesn’t cower—your mother has always adored you. When you were a boy (Beau). When you were a girl (Beatrice). And even now, as a cat (Beast). She promises she’ll take you to the park more often. That she’ll buy you a scratching post and a bigger litterbox. That she’ll feed you tuna or chicken or dairy—whatever you want.                                                                           

But tigers don’t live with their mothers. They run wild. Free. Alone.                                 

Your mother can only watch, and worry, as you race into the arms of timber like a flame races in the wind. You burn and bloom bright at first, then flash and flare orange.

Kieron Walquist lives in Mid-Missouri—mostly in the woods, where he tries to catch his shadow. His short fiction has appeared in Electric Cereal, Flash Fiction Magazine, FRXTL, Gone Lawn, The Molotov Cocktail and Unreality House, among others.