Exercising the craft—August 24, 2015

By Ekta R. Garg

You’re at work, like any normal day, and happen to look out the window as you head to the break room for a second cup of coffee. What you see makes you stop in your tracks: What is it?



Candace stifled a yawn with one hand and hefted her coffee mug with the other hand as she headed down the stairs to the break room. She couldn’t wait for the weekend to start. Peter promised to spend the whole weekend at her place.

If I can finish that report and email it to Jeff by four, I can knock off early and pick up around the house before Peter gets into town. I wonder if he’ll want to stay in or go out to eat.

She blushed when she thought of the last time he’d come to town and how they’d spent the entire weekend ordering takeout and devouring the food and one another in bed.

Pressing another yawn back into her mouth, she shuffled to the sink under the window and wished for the tenth time she hadn’t stayed up so late the night before to read. She rinsed out her cup, reached for a paper towel, and began swiping the inside of the mug when she heard a sharp squeal. Her head snapped to the window, and she saw a car swerve on the road adjacent to the building in a dramatic turn. The driver, whoever he or she was, must have dropped a barbell on the accelerator. Before Candace could blink, the car sped off.

What the…

Something flipped over in the street, and Candace’s heart thumped hard twice before pausing and then thumping again. She saw a streak of black rise in the air and fall, and she realized the black belonged to the flipping thing. She squinted hard as the creature flopped over two or three times and then flipped again.

That’s a cat!

Without another thought Candace put her cup on the kitchen counter and ran out the back door of the building. She ran toward the street. An elderly gentleman ran out of one of the houses on the other side of the street, the concern on his face mirroring what Candace felt.

“Did you catch the license plate number?” the man asked, huffing a little as they each got closer to their side of the street.

Candace shook her head. “I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t. Is this cat…is it yours?”

“It belongs to my neighbor, Beatrice,” he said with a grim expression.

Candace looked at the cat, and from this close she could see the blood leaking from its side. It continued to flip, a site that horrified Candace and compelled her to watch all at the same time. She considered approaching it but knew it wouldn’t do any good. She’d never had a pet before, and she’d never spent a lot of time around animals. She didn’t know what to do with one that was healthy, never mind one that was dying.

Her mouth ran dry, and her stomach began to churn. The cat was dying, and she couldn’t help it. Couldn’t stop it.

“I’ll call 9-1-1!” the man declared. He made his way back down his driveway, this time limping in favor of his right leg, and shame shot through Candace. She hadn’t even considered anything outside of her own feelings.

Fear gripped her as the cat stopped leaping, and it began flopping on the ground like a fish gasping for water. Its blood kept flowing, now in wider ribbons around it. The cat’s black fur became matted by red, and the fear flowed freely through Candace.

She wanted more than anything to leave, to go back to her coffee and her report and her weekend fling with Peter, the married pilot who always called her for a good time but never followed through on his promises to leave his wife and make a commitment to her. But the cat forced her to watch. Forced her to witness its death.

It stopped moving for a few moments, then began twitching almost violently. Candace covered her mouth with her hand. The twitching slowed down, and after one more jerk the cat finally stayed still. It’s mouth hung open, it’s face contorted in pain.

Several minutes later a police car drove down the street and stopped; an officer got out of the car and approached her, but Candace couldn’t hear what he said. His words sounded so far away, like he stood at the end of a long tunnel and tried to speak to her from there. She couldn’t make out his words, and when the elderly gentleman came back out of the house she turned on her heel and ran back to the office. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and her heart still hammered with fear.