Short Story: Cat

K and I are co-creating. I doodle on ArtRage, and he writes a little story for me. It makes us happy.

***

Painting Title_021

This was where I found her. Curled up into a tiny ball, shivering from the cold as she hid herself in a little nook along the buttress root of the towering angsana. I was hiding too, then, from things in my life that seemed like they were going to hunt me down and consume me. But I had a coat, I remember, and she did not, and for a brief moment the sight of her quivering frame made me feel a little less miserable about my life. She hissed and tried to bite me as I picked her up and wrapped her inside my coat, but I could barely feel her teeth. And so I brought her home, and we became friends.

Well she became my friend, that much was certain. I could never tell if she saw me as a companion or just a convenient source of food and shelter, but for the next fifteen years she made my house her own, coming in and going out as she pleased. She came to expect the food I placed beside the dining table each evening, but whenever I came home late, I would always find that she had already taken care of her own dinner somewhere else. She never entertained meals past nine o’clock.

She made my bed her own too. Again, I could never be sure if it had anything to do with her affections towards me, of if it was just a practical blend of body temperature and memory foam, but ever since she discovered my bed, no other alternative could satisfy her. Not baskets, nor boxes, nor rugs. I gave up trying after awhile, and resigned myself to occupying the left half of my bed, taking care not to move around too much each night in my irrational fear that I might somehow suffocate her in my sleep.

She liked to watch the television with me, or at least, to sit beside me and gaze in the general direction of the television set. Sometimes, at we sat together facing the flickering screen, I would try to imagine her thoughts. Did the make belief lives of the television stars mean anything to her? Or was she just enjoying the breathless bursts of color across the screen? Did she wonder the same about me? I would never know, and she never displayed any interest to let me find out, either. She would just sit there quietly with me, every time, and then wander away nonchalantly in the middle of the program to return to her tireless exploration of my tiny apartment.

And so like this, we danced around each other for years, two binary stars in our silent orbit, bound together by the gravity of fate but always with that constant, unchanging distance between us.

I watched her as she walked slowly but deliberately across the length of that old root, stopping for only the briefest of moments to survey that little recess where I first picked her up, so many memories ago. She sat herself down, facing away from me, back straight and ears pricked up as if scanning for something in the distance. I called out to her, and she turned and mewed at me contentedly. But as I took a step towards her, she got up and quietly walked away, disappearing like a whisper into the trees. And that was the last I saw of her. Watching her go, I knew somehow that this time she would not be coming back. I thought of calling out to her, of going after her, but after a long time I found myself still standing there, staring at the small empty space she had occupied just a moment ago. Then I realized I was staring right into my own heart, and that empty space had suddenly become a lot larger.

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