A Trip

Claudia Ulloa Donoso
translated by Lily Meyer

Recently I took a trip to my cat’s stomach. It wasn’t hard. First I took a long shower so my body could soak up water. Once my skin was leaking, I went out to the garden without getting dressed and curled up in the sunlight to dry. When it got dark, I moved inside to finish the process in front of the stove. It sucked the moisture out of me and sealed my pores shut. I turned into a piece of dried meat.

I knew I would have to wait a while for my cat to get hungry enough to eat me, or bored enough to play with me. When he came over to investigate my body, the first thing he ate was my eyes, which had been very difficult to dry out. They were shriveled like raisins when the rest of me was as hard as jerky or salt cod or those pigs’ ears they sell at the pet store.

My cat ate a bit more of me every day. He worked through my muscles to my intestines, which hadn’t hardened completely and must have been a nice break for his jaws. Then he swallowed my skeleton, and inside his stomach I became whole.

All I saw in my cat’s stomach was hair. Like all cats, he cleans himself constantly, and so more hairs appeared every day. They stuck to me until it looked like he’d eaten a Chewbacca toy. But eventually the hairs stopped coming, and I began to worry about my poor cat’s health. No one was feeding him. It was time for me to go home.

I climbed up his throat, passing his lungs and heart, and stood on the place where he purrs. There, I stretched as tall as I could and managed to touch the back of his tongue. He hiccupped and puked me out.

The hairs stuck to my skin softened the landing. Still, it took a few days until I was ready to crawl to the bathroom. When I got there, I was too small to turn the shower on. Instead I jumped into the toilet tank and stayed there, like a fetus in a ceramic womb, moving my arms and legs and soaking up the bacteria my immune system needed. Once I had grown larger than the drain, I flushed the toilet to suck the remaining hairs away.

Now I’m naked and getting bigger. I’m still not ready to go to work, but I still have a few more vacation days left. Yes, I took my vacation inside my cat’s stomach. These days I’m frightened of airports. And besides, it’s always safer to travel with someone you know.

Claudia Ulloa Donoso was born in Lima in 1979. She is the author of the short story collections El pez que aprendió a caminar, Séptima Madrugada, and Pajarito, and has won the Peruvian short story competitions Terminaremos el cuento and El cuento de las 1,000 palabras. She currently teaches languages in northern Norway.

Lily Meyer is a writer and translator living in Washington, DC. She is a recipient of a 2018 Washington, DC Arts and Humanities Fellowship, and her work has recently appeared in places such as NPR, Electric Literature, Latin American Literature Today, and Bogotá 39: New Voices from Latin America.