Mourning Animal Tale
Submission for 2022-06-24 Writer’s Guild Meeting
Prompt: An animal tale
My middle-aged self absorbing my mother’s recent death by imagining my child self absorbing her death by talking to my cat.
There you are.
I’ve been looking for you.
Nobody’s home again.
I’m just going to lie down next to you by the heat duct.
Please don’t run away.
I’ll be nice.
I don’t know where dad is.
Not that you would notice.
I’ve never seen him play with you.
I wonder what’s going to happen now.
Spring break is almost over.
What am I supposed to do at school?
Somebody must have told them.
I know you haven’t seen her in a while.
But do you miss her?
She was the only one of us you would actually come to.
When we kids would wait for her to visit, you would look through the window
panes with us, waiting.
But now she’s really gone for good.
Do you know what that means?
You must remember your mother.
You must have been part of a litter waiting for her to visit you.
You probably had a dad who was not all there too.
Did your mom and dad fight and she left,
just to sneak back for an occasional visit to the litter?
Maybe she even died in a car accident like my mom?
It’s been over a week now.
How long did it take for you to get over it?
It’s nice and warm here by the heat duct.
I think that’s what you do.
Find a cozy spot and purr.
You don’t need other cats around.
Maybe you can teach me.
Did you miss your family, when they went away, one by one?
I had a friend once.
He had a lie detector test, made from a kit.
He asked me if I loved my mother.
I said “Yes.”
It said I lied.
I didn’t know if it was right.
Did you love your mother?
Did you cry when she died?
Did you worry what was going to happen to you?
Maybe you were old enough to catch your own mice then.
I’ve gotta go back to school soon.
It will be embarrassing if I throw up again in front of everyone.
I’ll have to hurry and do it in private like I’ve seen you do.
I wonder if people can get hair balls.
Or what would happen if somebody ate a just-killed mouse.
Gross, I don’t think I could do that.
So, I guess I’ll stick to TV dinners.
We still have desserts from when the aunts and uncles and cousins came.
My brother and sister seemed to like to talk to them.
I guess that’s why they went with them.
But I couldn’t talk to them like I talk to you.
They were so loud.
I’m staying here with you and dad.
Can I hold your paw?
Just for a little bit.
I won’t block the heat.
I’ll give you some whipped cream from one of the desserts.
~ Scott Axelrod ~
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