The cat of French Leather
and the horse of Irish Leather,
bounding through Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Here I am, outside at last. I am saved. I’ve left my house, or rather my owner’s house, to give myself over to the street. I’ve long dreamed of this moment. A heartbeat adrift in the sun. Hours on end to slip between the soft sheets of the night. Wandering from one street to the next, jumping from roof to roof, following my whims, no one waiting with worry at the house to lock me inside. I’ve always dreamed of leaving; free to weave in and out and around the legs of the city. My homecoming will be all the sweeter, back at her feet, clawing at her dress, curling up in the secrecy of her softness and drinking in her scent. In any event, my breath will remember her fragrance, I’ll be back...
Tonight, I’ve taken the leap. Here I am, outside at last.
My first stroll around Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and already I find myself caught up in an adventure. Walking along in my coat of nonchalance, I am suddenly caught by surprise. A big flash of white in the night. A horse. The shine of its white hair cuts through the dark like a great splash of stars saturated with light. Our eyes meet. There is something disconcerting about his gaze that makes my fur stand on end: a mix of tenderness, unwavering composure, and distrust. In haste, I scamper up the first lamppost I see. His eyes follow me with the same intensity. I can hear the heaving rhythm of his breath, as if he were sniffing me to read my thoughts. The way he carries himself is almost like an invitation. So I jump on his back.
First, he tries to swat me with his tail, spinning his magical bouquet three times before snapping it at me. But I am far too clever, and dodge it in two steps. He cranes his neck and tries to catch me in his mouth, but I spin through the air and land on his back again. So he starts to gallop. He is not afraid of me, that is for sure. He hurtles down the streets at incredible speed, and I find it quite fun. It is like I am sitting on a throne, but with a rickety frame. And yet I have no fear. I cling to his giant body with all my might, as the wind whips my fur about... He stops abruptly. His breath is like a storm, and his body emits the odour of a distant land, imbued with a rare strength. I climb down from his back and stand at his feet, drinking in his intoxicating scent.
— Where are you from, brother horse?
— I am at home, my little cat, he answers. The city is mine, the light is mine. The Paris inferno engulfs me and makes me feel alive. I love its heat coursing through my veins. Paris raises me up. There is nothing more enticing than the smell of its night to fire my dreams.
— You’ve got me dreaming, too... By your side, I can feel the pulse of the city, I breathe differently. Where are you going? Will you take me with you?