Exercising the craft—October 28, 2013

By Ekta R. Garg

Prompt: Garfield in Real Life–You are trying to read the morning newspaper when your cat begins pawing at your leg. You brush it away, but it jumps on the table and begins meowing. Finally, the cat speaks. What does she say? Write this scene and what she is trying to tell you.

I sipped my orange juice, scanning the paper but not really looking at anything.  It had become harder to read past the headlines.  The positive ones just made my heart hurt with the thought of happiness enjoyed elsewhere.  The negative ones…well, the negative ones I just avoided altogether.

As I turned from Section A to Section B, I felt something rubbing my shin.  I looked down, and my mouth curved upward at the corners.

“Hi, Socks,” I said, still trying to get used to the name.  I’d only had her for about four weeks, and even though calling her “Socks” had made sense at the time—the splashes of alternating tan and black covered her body except from her ankles down, which were completely white—sometimes when I said the name now it sounded funny to my ear.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t use anyone else’s name these days.

I scratched her head between the ears, but she didn’t purr like she usually does.  I couldn’t help frowning at her; of all the times I needed someone to exhibit a little bit of leeway, this would be one of those times.  But she kept pawing at my shin.

“I just fed you, Socks,” I said, turning back to the paper.  “Now it’s my turn for breakfast.”

I began scanning headlines again, and after a few moments she stopped trying to get my attention.  Or so I thought.  Before I could start on the headlines on B2, Socks had managed to jump onto the table.

“Hey!” I exclaimed.  “I told you, you already had your breakfast.  You’re not supposed to be up here.  Now get down.”

I started to reach for her, but she backed up a few steps just beyond my hands.

“Please stop this.”

I know my jaw dropped open.  I could feel it hanging as I tried to process the fact that my cat had just spoken.

“Don’t do this anymore.  Please, just find me another home and find yourself one too.”

“Wha—what?  What are you talking about?”

“I know why you need me here, and I don’t think it’s going to help.  Please find someone else to take care of me, and then find yourself a new place to live.”

I started to get a little annoyed.  After all, I had made quite a few investments in vet appointments to get her all squared away with vaccines and spaying.  I had also bought several toys, and the biggest investment came in the form of cat food.  I didn’t realize cat food could run up quite the bill.  But even with everything else that had transpired in my life recently, even when I couldn’t remember if I’d had a meal or not, I made sure to feed the cat.

“What’s your problem?” I asked, bristling.  “I’ve given you everything you need.  I don’t think you could have a better home anywhere else.”

“Yes, but you just brought me here to fill up your house.  I’ve only been here for a month, but I know that you don’t need a cat.  You need someone to help you heal your heart.”

My breath became a little shallow.  Not only was my cat talking to me, now she was trying to offer me therapy.  What else would happen?

“If you can’t find me a new home, I can try to find one on my own.  But it would be easier if you helped me.  I have a higher chance of finding a good place to live that way.”

“Why do you say I don’t need a cat?  Do you think I would have bought you if I didn’t need you?  I don’t go spending my money without cause, Socks.”

“Is that something the other human used to say?”

“What other human?”

“Greg.  You say his name in your sleep.  Did something happen to him?  Is that why there are no other humans in the house?”

The shallow breaths increased in number, and I felt something coming behind them.  Something began to prick my eyes, and I realized I felt the tears again.  How was this possible?  I thought they’d all run out.

Socks crossed the table toward me and put her paw on my arm.  She began pawing it but this time she pawed it slowly, like she did it to comfort me.

“If something did happen to him, and he’s the reason why you have dark circles under your eyes, you need to find another home.  And please find me another one too.  You’re a kind owner, but I need someone who can offer me more than tins of Fancy Feast.”

The tears had come back, and they began running down my face.  I thought I had gotten better.  I thought I had left Greg at the cemetery when they had lowered his coffin into the ground.  When had he followed me home?  When would he leave me alone?  And when would I get my life back?

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