The hills, sprinkled with frosty pastures and snowy brushes, zip past the window as I look into the distance. The gentle lulling of the train woos me as I lean over my notebook allowing my hand to feast the empty pages with inspiration.
At first I don't feel the gentle tap on my shoulder. I mistake the tap for the uncomfortable crease my sweater creates underneath my fur jacket. But then it happens again. A gentle nudge that I shrug off. It isn't until a third try, that the tapping turns into a pinch, where I'm torn out of my state of imagination. There is a moment of confusion as I turn my head towards the inquisitor and I blink my eyes into focus.
Seated next to me is a young bobcat, with a crew-cut and a face that looks like it's wincing. I follow his painful gaze where he's pointing at something caught behind the seat.
"My tail madam. You're sitting on my tail..." The bobcat boy says.
"Oh dear!" I say.
I lift myself and the young bobcat hastily gathers up his tail. The boy, with the tail now safely wrapped around his wrist like a coiled snake, looks up at me and grins, his fangs sparkling in the blue evening light.
"I am so terribly sorry." I say once again. The embarrassment fill my cheeks like hot jugs of mulled wine.
"Not a problem. It happens all the time. My father says I'll grow into it soon."
"I'm sure you will." I say and pull out a crinkly bag of sweets, shake the pack to get his attention and offer him some.
Tentatively, with claws poking through the fuzz of his paw, the young bobcat pushes the sweets around, until he decides on a large orange one. He pops the sweet into his mouth, his cheeks puffing out with delight, causing his whiskers to erect.
"Mmmm." The boy says squeezing his eyes shut.
For a moment there is silence and I watch the boy stroke his tail and suck his candy.
I lean in and just above a whisper say, "By the way, this fur jacket isn't real..."
The young bobcat looks at me for a moment, his pink tongue reaches out to lap up the remains of sticky orange goo from his nose,
" I know," he finally replies with a wink.