Not Forgotten, Just Gone

cat_women_by_heyktupq

(Credit: HeyKtupq on DeviantArt)

We met in the laundrette on Sedgwick Street. I don’t remember how our first conversation began, but I met her there every Thursday for almost a year. She brought a small bag of liquorice, which she shared with me while we watched our clothes tumble, and I brought bottle caps for her, after she told me she collected them.

She always stood up and on the balls of her feet, as if she were ready to run at any time. Once I asked her whether she liked running and she said: ‘I’ve become very good at it.’ and her eyes looked so sad, it made my heart hurt.

There was something feline about her. It was something in the fluid way she moved and how her eyes sometimes followed things, which weren’t there, or maybe I just couldn’t see them.

It’s not that I’ve forgotten her name, it’s just gone. Every time I try to remember it, I get a faint taste of liquorice in my mouth and my head goes empty. Her face has grown blurry too even though it’s only three weeks since I last saw her.

I hope she got away from whoever’s after her. I considered going to the police, but without a name or even a face, what are they supposed to do?

What am I supposed to do?

55 Waiting

 

(credit: hashhq.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/l-b-c-making-news)

(credit: hashhq.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/l-b-c-making-news)

The timetable said that the bus would be there in ten minutes. Peter shifted his briefcase to the other hand. It had gone well all in all, the job would not make him rich, but it would be possible to pay for a wedding and a mortgage when he had settled in. Laura would say yes, if he asked her.

A black cat joined him at the bus stop.

But was that really what he wanted? Was he still too young to settle completely? There was so much he had not seen and experienced yet. He constantly felt there was something he was missing.

The black cat stretched, yawned and padded away behind him where it jumped into the wall and became a graffiti drawing of a black cat. It curled up and Zs appeared on the bricks above its head.

‘All the interesting things,’ thought Peter, ‘always happen to someone else. Maybe I’m just not active enough. I should go out and see the world. I could choose not to take this bus home. Scale Mount Everest, go deep sea diving, something like that.’ Only deep down Peter knew that he did not have the physique for something like that, and he did not have the will to obtain the physique either.

A man bumped into Peter’s shoulder and Peter looked at him with a frown. The man looked apologetic, but did not say anything as he evaporated. Peter kept looking at the space where the man had stood, his frown still in place, wondering why he was mildly irritated at someone who was clearly not there.

Peter checked his watch. Maybe he was just imagining things. ‘The neighbour’s grass is always greener,’ he thought, ‘and would it really be so bad to settle into a comfortable life, have some children, pick up a hobby, things like that.’

A bus stopped in front of him. He noticed that the bus had strange squiggly lines which he could not read instead of a number.

The Albatross

The albatross from The Rime of the Ancient Mar...

The albatross from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, depicted by Gustave Doré. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Cheshire Cat’s grin hangs just above the ship and makes the waves glitter as if there were jewels in the water. My little Molly loved the Cheshire Cat. When we had read Alice in wonderland she would talk about cats for days. Now she can only beg Ann for a cat, and Ann hates cats. I should never have married a dog-person.

Except for Molly. My little Molly makes it all worth it, but will I even get to see her? I want to share the ocean at night with her. The splash of the waves and the stars. I want to share all the best books I’ve read on the long trips when everything settled down and there was nothing better to do but read. When will she be old enough for the Ancient Mariner?

The light from the watchman’s lamp disturbs my reverie and I curse him under my breath, but I know he is necessary. There are pirates in these waters. The theme of Pirates of the Caribbean begins to play in my pocket. I fumble with my phone.

‘Hello?’ I say.

‘Dad?’

‘Molly?’

‘Hi dad!’ she almost shouts and I hold the phone a bit further away from my ear.

‘Molly, hello love, what time is it over there?’

‘It’s umm … Eight … And some more.’

‘Shouldn’t you be in school?’

‘No, it’s Saturday, silly.’

‘Of course, love. How are you?’

‘I got a puppy!’

I lick my lips.

‘Puppy?’

‘A really fluffy puppy.’

‘But, what … what about the little kitty you talked about?’

‘Cats are boring compared to dogs.’

There is a slight pain behind my eyes.

‘You can’t keep it, Molly,’ I say.

‘What?’

‘You can’t keep the dog.’

‘Why? Mum said-’

‘It’s evil,’ I say, ‘I’ll bite you and hurt you. You have to get rid of it.’

‘No, it wouldn’t.’ There is a sob from the other end. It tears at my heart.

‘Remember the Cheshire Cat?’ I say, ‘he wasn’t boring, was he?’

‘No, The Cheshire Cat was fun. He had a big, big smile, but mum says cats don’t really smile.’

‘Cheshire Cats smile,’ I say, ‘but dogs eat them.’

‘No.’

‘Yes, they eat them all up, so there is almost none left.’

There are more sobs.

‘And you know what?’ I say, ‘Mum is on their side.’

There is a bump from the other end, she must have dropped the phone, and I hear crying. Crying and wailing. I hang up.

I look at the moon.

I think of the albatross.

And I feel its weight around my neck.

23 Cat

She stretches. She purrs. She beckons. And he comes to her. Slowly, hesitantly. But he comes. The sofa is red leather. The thick carpet masks his steps. Only her purring and his breathing disturb the air.

Sweat glistens on the back of his neck. The only source of light and warmth is the candles on the table and the windowsill. When he takes off his coat and shirt, goosebumps appear on his arms. She does not seem to feel the cold. He flinches as he notices the wet spots under the arms of his shirt. She only looks at his face. Her green eyes unblinking. His gaze shifts and he blinks several times. Then he takes another step. Her purring grows louder.

He goes down on his knees before the sofa. She sits up. As she strokes his hair with one finger, he trembles. She arranges herself comfortably on the sofa as he unties his shoelaces. His cheeks grow red, his eyes shine. He removes his trousers. His breathing grows ragged as he climbs onto the sofa.

Her purring fills his head. Her claws dig into his back. For a split second a smile finds his lips.

Then the tearing begins.

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