One hot night a leopard came into my room and lay down on the bed beside me. I was half asleep and did not realize at first that it was a leopard. I seemed to be dreaming the sound of some large, soft-footed creature padding quietly through the house, the doors of which were wide open because of the intense heat. It was almost too dark to see the lithe, muscular shape coming into my room, treading softly on velvet paws, coming straight to bed without hesitation, as if perfectly familiar with its position. A light spring, then warm breath on my arm, on my neck and shoulder, as the visitor sniffed me before lying down. It was not until later, when moonlight entering through the window revealed an abstract spotted design, that I recognized the form of an unusually large, handsome leopard stretched out beside me.
The first paragraph of “A Visit” by Anna Kavan. Originally published in Julia and the Bazooka (1970); reprinted in Machines in the Head: Selected Stories of Anna Kavan, forthcoming from NYRB.