campkilkare: (Default)
T. Oso ([personal profile] campkilkare) wrote2011-01-08 02:06 pm

(no subject)

She is a white cat with black eyebrows, smarter than most, declawed in the front, sweet-natured. When his belongings were put on the street by the Greek landlord and his two English-speaking sons, she didn't let them touch her, but traipsed out the door and down the stairs and curled against the door of one of the other rooms downstairs; in the end, though, they chase her out and she took up stationed huddled on a mesh bag of holy socks, the heaped boxes of books sheltering from the wind.

He isn't here. He doesn't work anymore, but he does leave from time to time, and he isn't here. He fed her this morning, but now uncertainty and anxiety makes her want to gorge herself. The dish is out here, but it's empty--she pokes her face into it just in case, and follows her nose to the bag of food they tossed out, too, but it's twisted in on itself. She knocks her face against it, leaving a smoky trail of unhappy smell on it, then pads back to the socks, tucking her feet away, becoming a huddled loaf of fur.

Another cat, an outside cat, male, squeezes out of a gap between two of the buildings that close off this end of the alley. She's seen him before, this is his route, and he stops stockstill at the unfamiliar cat in his space at his time. She puffs up; he puffs up. He deflates, she deflates, and he pads closer. They pass the news, but she is spayed and his interest is in a minor key. She knows where to find him if she needs him.

She has made a point of trying to make it out here now and then, and gotten all the way down the stairs a time or two. Now she has no interest. After a few hours she unhuddles and laps water from the gutter; after a few hours more he comes back, smelling like books and unwashed human as he always does. She presses against his legs and sniffs urgently against his hands, smelling books in the stronger way that mean he has been to the bookplaces, and he picks her up and they sit on the curb for a while. She squeezes as flat as she can, ratcheting the purr upwards, digging her head under his chin.

She can feel the madness that has stalked them, lived with them, welling up inside him now, and she tries to soak it up from him, radiating warmth. She begins the rhythmic ritual press of her feet on his arm, and after a little while he starts to cry, which is a relief. There is only so much she can do, now.

She curls up and lets him carry her to the vet's office two blocks north. She hates it there, digging her claws into his arm for a moment in visceral panic, but then retracts. They are promising to take her to the shelter. She feels ill, and mews quietly. He rubs his thumb over her face, over her eyebrows, and she lifts off her front feet to butt his hand.

He goes, and they put her in a metal box. The other cats call out to her, and she huddles into the corner. She doesn't want their sympathy, and not all of them are sympathetic. She braces herself in the corner, then retches, bringing up the madness she staunched from him, all she could swallow while she still could. Not enough.

She hauls herself into another corner, as far from the retch as she can in the close space, and sags onto her side, panting. The other animals begin to yowl; the smell, smell of the charred residue the gambit has left of the man's mind, upsets them. It upsets her.

She is going to fail him.

She can't fail him.

The cat considers her options. All of them are dark. But she's in a box, and the man is dying; dark ways are all that are left.

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