There is nothing worse than saying goodbye to a dear friend. In this case, it’s a ten year relationship with the coolest fur-buddy I have ever known. Several months ago I awoke to deep purrs and a wet nose in my face and came up with the idea to write a short story from a cat’s point-of-view. Maxx will be missed like no other!
Here’s the story he inspired…
DEATH: THROUGH A CAT’S EYE
Hours ago they attempted to pull me away, but she said she liked the feel of my weight against her side. So, that’s where I stay until the very end.
My eyes can’t release the tears the others cry, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less crushed. I love her, too.
The sobs continue as I move from her side to rest my head on her chest. This is a familiar spot. Almost every night of my life I slept here, listening to the beat of her heart and the soft puffs of air move in and out of her lungs. But everything is quiet beneath my ear.
Where will I sleep now?
“You need to get Sax, in order for them to move her body,” the girl that slipped me peanut butter says to him.
I dig my claws into the blanket.
He knuckles a falling tear before leaning over with arms open. There’s a warning in my eyes, but he’s not paying attention. The hands reaching for me never touch fur.
“Ouch!” He pulls away with a curse and inspects the bloody scratch marks. He turns to me. This time when he looks, he sees. He understands.
“Oh God, she’s left us both, hasn’t she.” He crumples beside the bed and lifts her limp hand to his cheek. “What are we going to do, Sax?”
I can’t answer the way he does, so I clean the mixture of blood and tears that’s drips down his arm to hers. The corners of his mouth lift as he gives my head a quick rub.
A clatter of metal and plod of heavy boots alert me to the people who are about to enter the house. I crouch, pressing my body closer to hers. They’re here for her. I hate change, and her leaving will be the worst kind–permanent.
Towering strangers with blank expressions stand in the doorway. They smell funny. There’s a loud clank as a hard case drops with a startling boom. Raised voices, urgent cries…there’s so much noise. I want to stand my ground, I don’t want to leave her, but the commotion’s too much. I’m frightened.
I see him stand up to address the strangers, and before I realize what happening, I’m in his arms and he’s walking out of the room.
The strangers are going to take her away.
I twist and howl until he loses his grip, and then I run and take cover from the chaos. The one I love most is about to disappear forever. She’s the only one who truly cares for me. He has rules, rules that she has broken for me. Now he’ll insist that I stay off the furniture and ban me from sleeping on the bed. Will he even remember to feed me with her gone?
Hours, maybe days pass before I finally venture out of my hiding spot. There’s old food in my bowl, dried-out and crusty. At least he left something. It stinks, bad. The whole house smells different, her scent lingers, but it’s not here. Not really.
I hear a soft whimper and move from the kitchen to the living room. It’s dark. He’s sitting on the couch with his head in his hands. He hurts too. I don’t want to go to him, but I do, because I think she would have wanted me to.
At first he doesn’t notice me sniffing his toes or the press of my head against his leg. So, I force a single purr.
“Hey, there you are. Guess you’re pretty hungry.” He stands and almost trips over me as he stumbles toward the kitchen. I follow. Despite my sorrow, I want food. He scrapes the dish but doesn’t clean it. The water in my bowl is stale, it’s been there awhile, and he doesn’t bother to replace it. But the fresh food makes my mouth water and I dig in as soon as the dish touches the floor.
He leans against the counter watching me eat. Is he deciding what to do with me? Will he throw me out? I eat faster. This could be my last easy meal. No, wait… I should eat slower, bide my time. When I glance up from my dinner, his eyes are closed. I doubt he’s sleeping but I seize the opportunity. He can’t get rid of what he can’t see. I hear him call my name as I make my way back to my secret hiding place. I ignore him and curl into myself, warm but alone.
When I emerge the next day, stacks of brown squares line the hallway. Through the dense particles of cardboard I smell her. Inside are her things. I attack the box; pouncing, scratching and biting. I create a pile of scraps but make no progress freeing her belongings.
I creep through the bedroom door, her scent is stronger in here. I watch as he dumps a drawer full of her clothing on the bed. The stack is too tall and some items topple over the side to the floor.
He turns around when I yell at him to stop. “Sax, you want to help?” he says as he replaces the empty drawer, and pulls another out. I leap on the bed, climb the teetering pile, and sit boldly on top.
At first I say nothing, just watch as he swings the drawer around, ready to pour its contents over my head. A fuzzy sock tumbles from the partially up-turned drawer before he realizes I’m sitting here. “Hey, what are you doing up there?”
We stare at each other for a moment. Finally I tilt my head still trying to translate his meaning. Did ‘up there’ imply to my being on the bed or on the pile of clothes he’s too easily discarding. I don’t wait to find out. Grabbing the sock in my mouth, I flee the scene. My new mission–save whatever I can of hers.
On my fourth trip into the bedroom the squint of his eyes tells me he’s getting suspicious. He stops what he’s doing and watches as I casually clean my paws. It’s almost as if he’s daring me to steal something else. I do.
I grab the closest garment and hightail it out of the room. He chases me until we reach the basement stairs. He pauses, fumbling for the light switch. By the time he finds it I’ve already disappeared. His descent down the stairs is slow and methodical as he clicks his tongue and calls ‘kitty, kitty’. This is a special call that she mastered long ago, but he never did. I ignore his attempt to get me out into the open and wait for him to leave my territory.
I sit very still as he moves closer to my hiding spot. He’s talking to himself, something about a tail. He’s an idiot. Any time now he’s going to give up and go back upstairs.
A loud screech echoes, then a shadow falls over me. I scan the area for the cover that once was… He moved the couch! I’m totally exposed. I dart to the right and skitter around the corner before he can get his hands on me. For a long second it’s quiet. Then I hear my name… “Sax, Oh come on. Kitty, kitty.”
Since he’s begging I return, but keep my distance in case he tries anything funny. “Hey cat, what are you doing with her stuff?” He’ll never understand. There’s no point in hanging around, so I race up the stairs and quickly search for a new hiding place.
The next day I’m drawn out by the smell of fresh tuna. Before the idea of a trap registers I’m in the kitchen gulping down the delectable meat. I know he’s there. He’s watching me again. It’s too late to run, so I eat more. He lets me finish the plate before he scoops me up and carries me into the living room.
Next to the fireplace is a small wooden enclosure. Inside are her pillow, fuzzy socks and a soft tee-shirt. He’s made this… kept her things… just for me.
He places me inside the handmade box and smiles before kneeling down. His hands gently stroke my fur from my head to my tail. He wants to soothe me, thinks this offering will make everything better. What’s to keep him from tossing the box, with me in it, right out the front door? Nothing, that’s what!
On the third rub of his hand I hiss. Claws fully extended I lash out at his hand and flee back into the basement. I miss his skin on purpose. It’s a warning, not an attack. We’re not friends. Not yet anyway.
I won’t be fooled that easily, he has to earn my trust. He has to love me unconditionally, the same way she did.
© Sandra R. Campbell