Catskin by Kelly Link (2012)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror January 31, 2017
When we think of witches, we don’t think of soft round women, scented and powdered, wearing pink tufted slippers, and living in cute houses. They are more like women with twisted hearts that beat fierce blood into powerful spells over their victims. Kelly Link writes in odd directions and this story, Catskin, is a world where you can totally lose yourself. Are you up for a horrific fairy tale? Here’s a warning: Never poison a witch.
The witch, up in her bedroom, was dying.
Now, since witches cannot have children in the usual way—their wombs are full of straw or bricks or stones, and when they give birth, they give birth to rabbits, kittens, tadpoles, houses, silk dresses, and yet even witches must have heirs, even witches wish to be mothers—the witch had acquired her children by other means: She had stolen or bought them.
Do you like creepy cats? When I think of old cats, I conjure up lazy ones on a quilted bedspread, eyes slit closed and their soft minds dreaming in the shadows—a little bit like Poe said in The Raven: “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.” Truly, I do.
Cats trotted and slunk and leapt and crouched. They were busy. Their movements were catlike, or perhaps clockwork. Their tails twitched like hairy pendulums. They paid no attention to the witch’s children.
Witches and cats … a winning combination for a short story.
Ancient Proverb: You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats.”
Read Catskin at LightspeedMagazine.com
Kelly Link’s debut collection, Stranger Things Happen, was a Firecracker nominee, a Village Voice Favorite Book and a Salon Book of the Year — Salon called the collection “…an alchemical mixture of Borges, Raymond Chandler, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Stories from the collection have won the Nebula, the James Tiptree Jr., and the World Fantasy Awards. Her second collection, Magic for Beginners, was chosen as one of the best books of the decade by Salon and The Onion. Kelly has taught at Smith College, Columbia University, UMass Amherst, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Clarion, Clarion West, and Clarion South in Brisbane, Australia, and the Imagination Workshop at Cleveland State University.
Read more of Kelly Link’s work like Catskin in her Magic for Beginners.
Check out BuzzFeed’s Cat Stories.
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