The Fox and the Tiger



As a child, I feared foxes–the ones disguised as beautiful women whose skin never suffered under the sun’s glare and whose waists were no wider than a sheet of A4 paper–these foxes tricked tigers into lending them their striped coats so they’d masquerade at the top of the food chain, hopping from boulder to boulder, fearless, which made me feel bad for the tigers, now naked cats trying to catch mice in their paws, but everyone mistook the tigers for oversized mole rats and dispatched them with glue traps, so soon there were hardly any tigers, only foxes, which I saw in everyone, especially my guidance counselor with her pointed nose and clacking heels–and how she towered over me, asked me what I’d brought for lunch that day and I conjured up pork blood, octopus tentacles, chicken hearts even though my paper bag lunch box was actually empty and I’d sit behind it in the cafeteria and flip through apricot-colored SAT vocabulary flashcards instead, maybe hungry maybe embarrassed definitely trying to memorize “complacent” and “competent” and “complement” and that foxy woman told on me, and my parents yelled, and I thought about expensive things like computers and college tuition and treatment programs and decided to grow up, something I could surely do, just skin the fur off a tiger and wrap it over my clavicles, turn my orange-brown striped back to the world, just like that, until my hips widened and chest swelled and suddenly everyone could see the nine tails I had grown while hidden away on a mountain’s slope, where jade and green cinnabar covered its surface; yes, hidden there was a child now fully-fledged man-eater, and now I shape-shift into a waif-like celestial maiden to seduce men and eat up their spirits like barbecued chicken hearts, ripping them off, one at a time, until I am full.

Lucy Zhang writes, codes, and watches anime. Her work has appeared in New Delta Review, EX/POST, Jet Fuel Review, Third Point Press, Atticus Review, and elsewhere. Find her at or on Twitter @Dango_Ramen.