Animal Collection by Colin Winnette

I scratched my neck until a lion’s mane appeared. I broke the skin and it poured right out. Up until then I hadn’t received much attention from women. I hadn’t received much attention from anyone really. But all of a sudden, I was a point of interest. It wasn’t something I knew how to handle. My best friend said we were in luck. Had I ever seen Teen Wolf? Things were about to start going our way. But I was still terrible at sports. In fact, I was worse than I’d ever been. I couldn’t turn very fast, couldn’t hold things like I used to. My thumbs were stiff. My fingers wanted to curl. My best friend told me to practice. If the mane didn’t come with any supernatural talent, I could always train myself, get better on my own, and that would still be impressive. More and more women said hello to me on the street. I got free coffees in cafes. A girl at a bar winked at me from across the room, and I had been pretty sure people didn’t actually do that. It didn’t feel right. I couldn’t get comfortable. I didn’t talk as much as I used to. I was less friendly. People said, it’s a nice color, did you dye it? I nodded a lot, or pretended not to notice them. I kept to myself. My palms got bigger and my fingers kept curling. They doubled over to half their size. I slouched a little so people would notice me less. I tried to cover the hair, but it was spilling out from my wrists, my thighs, my neck. I was scratching here and there, scratching all over, and it just kept coming. I stopped going out as much. I ordered in, left money in front of the door with a note that said, be right back. When I did leave the house, women made meaningful eye contact. I hunched over so I didn’t have to think about it. It’s not that I wasn’t flattered, but it made me nervous.