“Zebra Skin”

Linda hated Norman’s floor for its zebra skin rug. If it’d been hers, she’d never have let it touch the ground, but instead would’ve draped it regally about her shoulders, venerable as a flag.

No one and nothing would wear the zebra skin but her. Its leathery inside would fall over her living, human skin, and there they would become one, melding together until there was no end or beginning left between them.

With her new skin, Linda would go to Africa and blend with the other zebras, losing herself between their blacks and their whites before slipping improbably into a disguise of dappled sunlight. Wearing her fingerprint like a jacket, she would roam the plains with her ancient tribe and thrill in the feel of her hooves pounding against humanity’s cradle.

There she would know her friends and enemies by sight alone. She would always be able to trust her friends’ compliments, knowing stripes are slimming and that all zebras must love them in order to be loved themselves. She would shake her thick mane at her lover’s teasing nips and bat her ropey tail against gnats, impatience, and ill-behaving foals.

Her hair would never need brushing out on the plains, and think of the money she’d save on makeup and lingerie! After all, what use does a zebra have for lacey things? Her skin would be decorative enough on its own, naked and clean and striking. Bold slashes of white and black would cut suggestively down her ribs and curl around to the shadowy tucks and dips of her underbelly.

And when her lover was ready, they would find a shady spot beneath one of the savanna’s rare trees and she’d let him stand up tall behind her. His long legs fitting warmly around her middle and his flat cheek resting against her neck, they would snort happily a while there, knowing that new zebras would be coming soon.

It wouldn’t even matter that she was one of several in her stallion’s harem, because she would know her own mind inside her snowflake-precious skin. She would know that, together with her dazzle, their stripes would beget new stripes and soon they would paint the entire world in luscious bars of black and white. Soon they would distill the cosmos to a perfect, numinous balance, inviting Everything and the Void to stand in harmony upon their backs.

There in her stripes, all would be right. There where she could roll in the grass and flirt with wishful photographers. There where she could meet eyes with human children through the glint of their distant binoculars. Their parents would spend the next month pinning her likeness up with fruit-shaped magnets, grateful that she’d revealed herself even if only for a moment. Grateful simply to know she existed at all.

There where she would know herself. There where she would have purpose.

There where Norman wouldn’t look at her with his human eyes over his human frown and humanly shout, Linda! Get out from under that rug! You’re embarrassing me!

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About K.C. Mead-Brewer

KC Mead-Brewer is a writer and editor living in beautiful Baltimore, MD. Her writing appears in a variety of publications, including Zone 3 (forthcoming), Bartleby Snopes, Cold Mountain Review, Litro Magazine, and Menacing Hedge. She also serves as an editor with Cleaver Magazine and is a proud member of The Roving Writers, a small group of wild women artists who got their start together at Hedgebrook: Women Authoring Change.