Her mother named her Cheetah, hoping she would grow into a long-limbed, fleet-footed woman, but she developed broad shoulders and rounded haunches like a raccoon. Her father called her Chee, as if it were a nicked name, a shortened version of her totem animal, but Cheetah knew he meant Chi, pure core energy. She wanted to adopt this moniker, but she worried she couldn’t live up to such a legacy. She was quiet and still, a yogic tree, potential not kinetic.
One night in dream, vision, or illusion, she looked out the front window to see the house across the street was a twin of her own. But the roses were not red, the irises were not purple, the chrysanthemums were not yellow. There were white roses, milky calla lilies, white hydrangeas. Chi’s twin appeared, gathering a bundle of flowers, her arms overflowing, tucking the blossoms between chin and breasts, white petals floating on the breeze like white moths circling under yellow street lamp.
Soon the door of the white ghost house will open and a surge of animals will emerge: wolves, coyotes, bobcats, foxes—all predators. Chi will not be afraid, she will open her arms and absorb them into every pore in her body like a sponge soaking up water. She will take on their fierceness, tenacity, focus, singleness of purpose. Her prey will be authenticity; her prey will be desire; her prey will be open-hearted compassion. She will pursue within. She will love her prey. Predator and prey will be one.