THE PETTING ZOO
sara f. murphy
In the evenings Ruby sits with the lights off and the windows open. A raw breeze shoves through the curtains. She's nine stories up, but she can still hear the animals crashing through the undergrowth. When she moved to this apartment, the proximity to the petting zoo was a selling point. A year later Ruby's nostrils are eternally enlarged from the animal shit. She suspects that the ponies and geese and potbelly pigs escape their cages at night and root through the dumpsters like alley cats. Ruby can hear them below her window. Soldierly hooves. Soft, worn-out pelts rubbing against the pavement. Purposeful whinnies and bleats. By the wee hours, all the noises have stopped. The animals must willingly return to their cages, a concept that upsets Ruby. It doesn't make a lick of sense. By now she thinks maybe the petting zoo animals are plotting a raid on the city, stockpiling their weapons and supplies, and at night she dreams of vengeful marsupials running their tiny furred fingers up her thighs. She dreams of pitiless flop-eared rabbits butting at her breasts.
In the mornings Ruby wakes up panting, safe, and very much alone.
Sara F. Murphy