It was a stand-off, unblinking eyes linking in mutual distrust of each other as they met.
The ‘outsider’ had walked nonchalantly along the dusty alley
until he came to where the slatted fence panels stopped
and opened onto the main street.
From the shade of the corner-steep a black shadow slid slowly out
and coloured into a feline with snake-like movements.
He stopped, she stopped.
Her hackles raised as she soundlessly arched her back and bared her fangs.
he looked at her ears, pulled back in anger and tipped like a lynx.
He reckoned this behaviour was typical of her.
No doubt she had fought battles for survival and time had tolled on her senses.
Attack maybe the best form of defence, learned the hard way.
He was still in walking-mode, four paws on the ground;
experience had taught him to relax so he lowered the weight slightly into his shoulders and adjusted the muscles in his haunches.
Joints slightly flexed, claws gently released,
head motionless and eyes focusing on hers, squinting through the sun.
His mind analysing her potential.
She was angry, more than usual,
and here was a stranger appearing. Wrong place, wrong time,
his tough luck.
She had to fight hard for her little place in the sun
and would be damned if someone strolled in to replace her.
Look at him, with his sleek, black coat like a jaguar, right down to his black velvet nose
and eyes that so casually burned into hers. Fur so soft and smooth she could see the corded muscles on his legs.
She could see he wasn’t scared,
well he should be!
Leather-brown hackles rippled as she turned to face him and shifted her body
closer, closer to him.
Like a cobra stilling the air
with a glare and silent spit.
We mustn’t humanise this, he thought.
She was angrier than him, he was obviously treading on her territory, her woes;
on her toes as it were.
All he had wanted was a quiet stroll from the barn he had just moved into,
and a sniff of the neighbours.
Maybe this is enough for one foray into the unknown, didn’t want to make trouble for himself so soon.
He sat nonchalantly
Turning his head away slightly though keeping an eye for movement.
She posed as a statue but her fangs were hidden now.
He lazily lowered his head, nimmed at his elbow briefly and with a final,
filing tongue on the place, lifted his face towards her,
nostrils twitching as he inhaled her scent.
Stood, turned and strolled away from the still-arched defiant tabby.
She watched as the sleek stranger walked away,
tail swaying as hips and shoulders worked smoothly.
His head moved as he glanced back.
By now she was sitting, relieved,
relaxed by his departure.
But the adrenalin was still stirring in her and she knew he would return.